Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Good Clergy, Part 7: "She Might Have Been Drunk When She Was Consecrated As a Bishop"

You ever wonder how deep the rabbit hole goes? That's what I'm wondering about the case on Heather Elizabeth Cook. 

I'm also wondering how many times I'll have to say "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?" when blogging about this story for someone to say, "Yeah, John. We're just fucking with you. No religious organization worth their salt would allow a person with this kind of history to hold a high office."

I wish I was wrong. 

So NOW it comes out that after the DUI arrest in 2010, during which she did several different kinds of therapy, Ms. Cook was recommended "without hesitation" by the Episcopal Church in Easton to the post of Suffragan. 

Then there was the 2014 meeting in which council participants were "unaware" of Ms. Cook having a DUI or a drinking problem. 

According to the official timeline that came out Monday, Bishop Eugene Sutton now says that he suspected Ms. Cook might have been drunk at her installation festivities last September. This was the party to celebrate her becoming a bishop, and well...she was likely drunk at it. IMAGINE THAT. 

In many organizations, being drunk for a work function would have been an immediate termination, or at the very least a suspension, but not a promotion.

The Washington Post article says that Bishop Sutton conveyed his concerns to the presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who in turn tells Sutton she's going to meet with Cook. A meeting did occur between them in October, but of course, the details are confidential. I don't have a problem with that; if I had a drinking problem I wouldn't want the world to know by googling it. Ms. Cook certainly has a right to her privacy.

But I'll be honest: I'm trying to wrap my head around this one, folks. I really am. And I'm not calling out the people involved because they're Episcopal, of course. This could and does happen to people of any faith or spiritual path. But it makes the Episcopal Church look pretty bad. 

The signs were ALL THERE, and people who could do something about the problem did NOTHING. You have TONS of evidence to work with, and despite the fact that she has a DUI and has been treated for alcoholism, and four years later is drunk at her installation festivities, Bishop Schori STILL decides it's a good idea to consecrate Heather Elizabeth Cook as a bishop.

Ms. Cook was likely very good at her job. Now I'm all for second chances and forgiveness, but she's no good to anyone as a drunk. The staggering lapses in judgment on the part of Ms. Cook may have been due to her alcoholism, but when all the "leaders" around her look out for themselves and their organization by assuming everything will be fine and not monitoring a recovering alcoholic, they're no longer fit leaders. 

I mean...did you just not SEE it? Or did you choose not to see it? 

Bishop Sutton's revelation--pun intended--pretty much destroys any credibility that the Episcopal Church of Maryland had left. None of Ms. Cook's empty promises in 2010 that her arrest was a major wake-up call or the hollow words of sorrow of Bishop Sutton can bring back Thomas Palermo.

Pray for them all, especially members of the Episcopal Church of Maryland, because they're being led by people who put the Church and their own convenience before the personal safety of others.

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