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National Episcopal Church restricts Cook's ministry

This photo provided by the Baltimore Police Department shows Bishop Heather Cook.
This photo provided by the Baltimore Police Department shows Bishop Heather Cook. (Associated Press)

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook, who is charged with killing a bicyclist with her car while drunken driving in December, was formally restricted by the national church on Tuesday from acting as a member of its clergy.

The order from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who oversees all the church's bishops, came after the Maryland Episcopal Diocese wrote Cook a letter requesting her resignation.

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"You shall not exercise or engage in the ordained ministry of this Church in any respect, shall not participate in any functions of the House of Bishops, and shall not hold yourself out as an ordained person of this Church in good standing, until such time as all matters relating to you that are pending before a panel of the Disciplinary Board of Bishops shall have been finally resolved," Schori's restriction said.

Cook, 58, the second-ranking bishop in the Maryland diocese, is out on bail after being charged with charged with manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol, texting while driving and other offenses in the death of 41-year-old Thomas Palermo in North Roland Park.

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"This restriction is being placed upon your ordained ministry ... as a result of your alleged criminal conduct in connection with an automobile accident on December 27, 2014 and misrepresentations you allegedly made to persons in the Diocese of Easton and in connection to your candidacy for the episcopate in the Diocese of Maryland regarding your experience with alcohol," Schori wrote.

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland made its resignation request in a letter to the bishop last month. Cook's lawyer said she had received the letter.

The eight-member panel said it "agreed unanimously that you are no longer able to function effectively in the position of Bishop Suffragan given recent events."

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