The appointment of the Rt Rev Chilton Knudsen as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Maryland, following the deposition of Heather Cook, has drawn widespread attention and affirmation.
Knudsen, a recovering alcoholic who has made recovery support and education part of her own ministry, spoke to NPR’s Renee Montagne this morning from an addiction education day for clergy in Pennsylvania. She said in part:
KNUDSEN: …So across the church right now, diocese by diocese, we are holding these days about alcohol and drug addiction. We are now treating the issue as opportunity to learn how to really respond pastorally, in-depth. And as we teach the clergy how to ask the harder questions, they are learning. So my prediction – I guess it would be also my hope – is that the next time someone has a DUI in their history and are asked about it and the response is, oh, I’m fine now, the next set of questions will be it’s good to know. We hope you understand that we will need to ask a lot more questions about this.
MONTAGNE: I think people have an idea that clergy should be better and stronger than the average layperson. So how do you mesh that expectation with the idea that clergy do indeed battle these demons?
KNUDSEN: Yes. When we look at clergy, we think of them as equally likely as anybody else to have a heart attack. I want us to think – because we know alcohol and drug addiction is a disease, it is not a moral issue, where we’d expect the clergy to somehow be exempt from one part of the human condition. It’s a disease, and the clergy are subject to it at the same rates as everyone else.
You can read and hear the whole interview here.
Photo credit: Diocese of Long Island. Posted by Rosalind Hughes