US Episcopal Church is “Complicit in culture of alcohol abuse”, report finds

Mar 23, 2018 by

by Harry Farley, Christian Today.

The Anglican Church in the US remains mired in a ‘system of denial and helplessness’ over alcohol abuse among its senior clergy, a damning commission has concluded.

It found the Church had done little to tackle the issue after a Baltimore cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run incident by the former bishop in the Maryland diocese, Heather Cook, who was drunk-driving.

Cook was jailed for 10 years in 2015 after she pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Tom Palermo, 41. She was found to have three times the legal blood-alcohol limit.

But a report, commissioned by The Episcopal Church’s bishops, examined a number of case studies and in almost every case found ‘the ecclesial structure and polity of our church proved to contribute negatively to the situation’.

‘Clericalism, a misunderstanding of hierarchy, the canonical autonomy of parishes and dioceses, and a polity that hinders the enforcement of expectations all contributed to inactivity by responsible persons and bodies,’ the report, published this week, said.

‘The commission has discovered that in many instances, church polity has impeded the ability of the church to intervene, assess and treat impaired people and care for the injured community.’

The commission exposed a fear of exposure to liability, friendships between church officials, the autonomy of dioceses and a ‘culture of forgiveness’ as reasons for why there was a failure to address alcohol abuse among clergy.

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