Episcopal leader in spotlight after bishop charged in Baltimore hit-and-run
By Jonathan Pitts
The Baltimore Sun
Just over two months ago, when Heather Elizabeth Cook, a newly ordained Episcopal bishop, was involved in an accident that left a bicyclist dead, the tragedy made headlines around the world, while sparking controversy within and outside the church..
Cook — who was drunk at the time of the accident, according to Baltimore police and prosecutors — had been made a bishop despite an arrest on DUI charges four years earlier. The Dec. 27 crash raised questions about how the Episcopal Church, already split over dogma and facing steep membership declines, chooses its leaders.
And it has put the stewardship of the national church's presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, in the spotlight.
Jefferts Schori, 60, has headed the 1.9 million-member national church since 2006. Her tenure has been a period of major schism, and she has drawn criticism for what some say is her overly litigious response to conservative Episcopalians who have broken with the church over its official support of same-sex marriage and gay clergy.
Jefferts Schori, who presided at Cook's consecration Sept. 6, has faced criticism before — perhaps most notably when she welcomed a former Roman Catholic priest who was a pedophile into her home diocese without telling parishioners about his past.
Now, some Episcopalians in the Baltimore area have been asking how their diocese could have put forward a candidate it knew had a drunk-driving arrest without telling them. The selection committee that vetted Cook knew of the 2010 DUI on the Eastern Shore — though not all its details — and decided not to pass the information on to those who would vote in her election last May. the rest