Episcopals examine alcohol use after fatal drunken driving case involving assistant bishop

The top legislative body of the Episcopal Church is reviewing its policies on alcohol and addiction as part of the churchwide soul-searching over a Maryland assistant bishop charged with drunken driving while texting and killing a bicyclist.

Leaders of the Episcopal General Convention, meeting in Salt Lake City, put the topic on the agenda after the criminal case against Heather Cook drew national attention.

Cook, who has been defrocked, has pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter, drunken driving and other charges.

Episcopal leaders say the reexamination of policies about alcohol is not about implementing prohibition, but promoting responsible use and compassion for people struggling with addiction.

The Episcopal Church allows social drinking, which often becomes part of parish events and congregational life.