A Suffragan Bishop (a Suffragan Bishop is not in charge of a Diocese, but rather roughly equivalent to an Auxiliary Bishop in the Roman Catholic Church) from the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Maryland was arrested and charged with manslaughter for driving drunk, texting, and leaving the scene of an accident when she hit and killed a cyclist last month. Bishop Heather Cook had a previous arrest in 2010 for drunk driving, and her blood-alcohol was nearly 3 times the legal limit.
This is not someone who had too much to drink at a party one day, made a poor decision in attempting to drive, and tragedy was the result. This is someone with a serious alcohol problem, the kind of problem that isn’t a secret to anyone around her, and whose problem was ignored by the Church.
There are tragedies that occur where, sadly, there is no warning or any reason for anyone to be suspicious that anything bad will happen. However, in this case the diocese of Maryland exhibited moral failing at the highest level. That moral failing was present not only in Bishop Cook’s decision to drive drunk, but also among those who recommended her for consecration to the episcopacy while having every reason to know that she has a serious medical condition that profoundly impacts her judgment. People who are able to drive it nearly 3 times the legal limit, no matter how poorly, have a chronic condition and drink all day long. There is no mystery. Tragically, someone lost their life because of this moral failing.
If you know someone who has a problem, confront them. Do not enable their problem. If they refuse to get help, the loving thing to do is to allow them to hit bottom in the hopes that they will seek recovery. Promoting them is perhaps the worst decision anyone could make. Silence kills.
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