Report wants to address clergy substance abuse

NEW YORK — A report by the Episcopal Church’s Commission on Impairment and Leadership says the church has failed to adequately address alcohol abuse among the ranks of clergy.

The study was commissioned after the 2015 conviction of former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland Heather Cook for the death of a 41-year-old bicyclist in a drunken hit-and-run incident. An appointed commission was asked to “explore the canonical, environmental, behavioral and procedural dimensions of matters involving the serious impairment of individuals serving as leaders in the church, with special attention to issues of addiction and substance abuse.”

The report said that despite efforts to address the “culture of substance abuse in the church, a lack of education and awareness continues regarding alcoholism and addiction.”

The report calls for better training and stronger policies to address clergy substance abuse, including spiritual practices as a means of prevention and healing. (TAB)