01/09/2015 – Statement following the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City Press Conference

Baltimore, MD — With the announcement today┬áby civil authorities of charges against Heather Cook in the tragic death of Thomas Palermo, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, reaffirms its respect for the course of action the legal system is taking and prays for a just outcome in this case.

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said in reaction to these charges, “I want to thank the Baltimore Police Department and the State’s Attorney’s office for the thoroughness and care by which they have handled and investigated this case.

“On behalf of everyone in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, please know that we are deeply heartbroken over this, and we cry for the Palermo family, our sister Heather and all in the community who are hurting,” Sutton said. “Our Lord Jesus would be a healing presence in the midst of this tragic situation, and we are seeking ways to walk in his footsteps in the days and months ahead. As we do so we are truly being the church, and we will always be guided by our core Christian values of personal accountability, compassion and respect for the rule of law.”

Additionally, the diocese commends the compassionate response of Episcopalians who are keeping the Palermos and the cycling community in their prayers and those who have contributed to the Palermo Children’s Educational Trust.

Finally, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is fully cooperating with the Episcopal Church’s internal investigation concerning Cook’s conduct as a clergy-leader. Since she is a bishop it falls under the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to handle disciplinary proceedings regarding Cook’s actions. These proceedings were begun on or about Jan 2. The disciplinary process, known internally as Title IV for the section of the Church’s Constitution dealing with discipline procedures, is in place to objectively investigate and determine appropriate action by the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is guided throughout this tragic situation by three core values: accountability, compassion and the rule of law. As we all process and come to understand this tragedy, these values will be our guide.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is a Christian community of 21,500 households in 108 congregations covering 10 counties and Baltimore City; our purpose is to sustain our community of churches, congregations and ministries while living into our Baptismal Covenant to proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ, seek and serve Christ in all persons, and strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being. Please visit www.episcopalmaryland.org for more information. The Episcopal Church is a community of 2.4 million members in 100 nationwide dioceses, 10 overseas dioceses and six extra-provincial territories; www.episcopalchurch.org. The Anglican Communion is a global community of 77 million Anglicans in 38 member churches/provinces, including The Episcopal Church; www.anglicancommunion.org.

Media Contact:
Please contact Sharon Tillman, director of communications for the Episcopal Churches of Maryland, 410-467-1399, stillman@episcopalmaryland.org.

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