Bishop Schofield in denial

Bishop John David Schofield has been in denial for so long that it's a wonder he hasn't gone crazy. Elected as bishop of the diocese of San Joaquin twenty years ago in 1988, he continues in denial about the fact that this church (The Episcopal Church) had collectively decided to ordain women and that one day that reality would come to the Diocese of San Joaquin. He still somehow believes that his theological viewpoint – that women cannot be ordained – can be maintained as a guaranteed minority viewpoint in The Episcopal Church. The election of a woman as Presiding Bishop must have been difficult for him, having somehow thought that the ordination of women need not directly affect his own world.

He has been in denial concerning the reality that he belongs to a church that has increasingly welcomed gay and lesbian persons into all that the church is, including the possibilities of holy commitments and holy ministry.

He has been in denial concerning the reality of the effects of his actions in the past year regarding the life of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

In his letter to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of December 21st, responding to her request of December 14th for clarification concerning his status in the Episcopal Church, his denial continues unabated. The decisions made by the San Joaquin Diocesan Convention are all due to the failings of the Episcopal Church leadership. The confrontations those decisions provoke and the consequences they engender are downplayed. The fact of the Bishop's leaving the Episcopal Church is left unexamined.

The letter is a rambling hodge-podge of material. As Fr. Jake points out, only once in the letter does Bishop Schofield get close to stating his understanding of his status. The bishop says, "...I understood the Convention's actions as a request that I provide episcopal oversight of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin under the Province of the Southern Cone of South America..." That makes him a bishop in the Province of the Southern Cone and a bishop who has abandoned the ministry of this Church. It may take some time to sort the whole matter out, but the House of Bishops will have to determine that he has indeed left and then he will, officially, be out. Oddly, the bishop takes no personal responsibility for having done anything. Rather it was "the Convention's actions" that were the source of the unfolding story of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

The website for the diocese already reflects the new order: The "Staff" page begins with Bishop Venables of Argentina, listed as "Archbishop of the Southern Cone." (Bishop Venables is not an archbishop and he is Primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, shortened on the Anglican Communion website as "Primate of the Southern Cone.") Still, with all the changes – including changing the name of the Cathedral to "The Anglican Cathedral" and the change in the masthead to "The Diocese of San Joaquin, an Anglican Diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone" the bishop can't straightforwardly respond to the Presiding Bishop and say that that he has abandoned the communion of this Church (the formal language of the canons) or less formally that he has quit the Episcopal Church and joined the Province of the Southern Cone.

But the answer to the Presiding Bishop's question as to his status is this: He has left the Episcopal Church.

One can't tell that too clearly from his letter, however. The letter gives every indication that Bishop Schofield continues in denial.

The whole letter can be read HERE. Fr. Jake has been following the whole unfolding of the Bishop's actions on his site. The most recent of his postings regarding the fallout of the December Diocesan Convention is HERE.

Looking at Bishop Schofield's response to the Presiding Bishop, the level of his denial is fairly clear:

Bishop Schofield writes:
"….This year the delegates to the Annual Convention came fully cognizant of what has taken place in Virginia and Southern California where litigation has been pursued vigorously against those who oppose the innovations of The Episcopal Church and who, consequently, have stood up for their faith and remain protective of the property they have built, purchased and maintained with no help either from The Episcopal Church on a national level nor –in most instances– from the local diocese either."

He thinks the Episcopal Church is punishing people for being in opposition. It is not. The legal proceedings are not against "those who oppose the innovations" but against those who no longer oppose but have left, taking the keys with them. This is not a conflict between opposing parties, but between The Episcopal Church and those who have left.

He wrote, "Their (the Province of the Southern Cone's) offer, as you know, was conditional until such time as The Episcopal Church repents of those decisions and actions that have caused a rift in the wider Anglican Communion."

The Bishop is either spreading a falsehood or in denial. The Episcopal Church will not repent of the decision to ordain women, the long standing divide between the bishop and the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church will not repent of the efforts to be more inclusive. Therefore the move to the Province of the Southern Cone is perhaps temporary, but only until such time as there is a new Province in North America more to his liking. His leaving the Episcopal Church is not temporary, awaiting a time of better conditions.

He continues in deceiving himself and others in what follows: "Furthermore, I understood the Convention's actions as a request that I provide episcopal oversight of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin under the Province of the Southern Cone of South America. Accepting such an invitation to be a part of the Southern Cone's House of Bishops may not necessarily define my relationship with The Episcopal Church particularly since this may only be a temporary arrangement." The arrangement may be temporary but the exit will be permanent. Becoming part of the Province of the Southern Cone's House of Bishops without a special arrangement worked out by both churches and while exiting any engagement with the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is simply what it is – abandonment of the communion of this Church. More, the actions of Convention did not happen without his active promotion of the idea of leaving. Yet his letter never acknowledges his own responsibility for what is going on.

Amazingly, the Bishop concludes this portion of his letter by writing, "The purpose of December 8th's vote, then, was not to change anything within the Diocese but quite to the contrary. With the status of The Episcopal Church's membership in the Anglican Communion looking more and more precarious, the people of San Joaquin simply wanted to remain what we have always been, namely Anglican." His argument rests on the desire to remain Anglican, a desire which he proposes to further by complete distancing of himself from the Episcopal Church. To then turn around and claim he has not necessarily left the Episcopal Church borders on absurdity or mental unbalance.

The bishop states, "Ultimately, then, it is the Archbishop's proposal for a course of action in the months ahead that may affect my status. Since everything that the Diocese of San Joaquin has done, it has done with an eye toward remaining Anglican and in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, his proposal should naturally take precedence."

Bishop Schofield wants to embrace the Archbishop of Canterbury's proposal as a way of putting off the matter of his status in the Episcopal Church. "Despite the dismal failure of meetings with the leadership of The Episcopal Church over the past two decades, I will remain open to the Archbishop's proposal and not close the door on anything that the Holy Spirit may accomplish through these efforts. It may well be that in these facilitated conversations my own status and even that of The Episcopal Church vis-à-vis its membership in the Anglican Communion will be clarified."

The Archbishop of Canterbury may indeed determine who he invites to Lambeth and who will be included in the Primates meetings. But by the time the Archbishop and his panel meet, facilitate conversation and so forth, it will have already been determined by the Episcopal Church whether or not Bishop Schofield is still a member of the House of Bishops of this Church. That matter is entirely in the purview of the Episcopal Church. His denial of the reality of his status is at very least ingenious. It may be a sign of his being in denial.

Bishop Schofield is not speaking plainly. He has not been clear with his people, the wider church or himself about the meaning of his actions. It may be because these are uncharted waters. But it may be because he is so far off course that he is lost and cannot admit it, or worse that he knows where he is going but doesn't want to admit it. Either way he is in denial.


  1. I'll wager a fin that the former Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin eventually swims the Tiber and finds himself safe in the becalmed waters of Rome.
    I don't think any "alternative" Anglican communion, or any attempted coup at Lambeth will be enough to rescue him from this self-made predicament.
    Rome (in its current forward-to-Trent incarnation) may well be where he would be happiest. The only problem is that in the Anglican world, he is a big fish in a small pond. In Rome, he would be only a small fish in a very big pond.

  2. Hasn't gone crazy?

    I don't have the training to diagnose anyone properly--but what I saw on Sunday was anything but sane.

    He's more than "in denial." He's doing real damage. And he has been, for a long time.

  3. Fr. Mark,

    As much as it pains me to agree with the mad one, how can you read that hodge-podge of lunatic rhetoric and then write, "Bishop John David Schofield as been in denial for so long that it's a wonder he hasn't gone crazy." with a straight face?

    Long since, Father, long since the author was anything approaching sanity. We should depose him and pray for healing. Clearly the job is too much stress.


  4. I love your anaysis of the situation. I am speaking again as an Episcopalian in the Diocese of San Joaquin who is praying for the resconstitution of the Episcopal Church in this diocese. If you are noticing the doublespeak in ex Bishop Schofield's letter, you are one other person who sees what we have been living with since he became the bishop here.

    Thank you! We need to continue to speak out when we see the manipulation of the facts. At the very least, JDS is disingenuous. But it is more than that. I was at the church service at St. Nicholas in Atwater, CA, this last Sunday, when he made such manipulative misstatements at the end of the service that we only were left wondering about their purpose. JDS said that the rumors that he was firing Father Rissard and closing the mission were not true, but... that there was a dwindling congregation and no money so there would be no money to pay a full time priest, and that they would send supply to this location from time to time. Those present were floored by the insincerity and dishonesty of the full context of those statments.

    We let ex Bishop Schofield have all the say for way too long. Many of us will speak out to point out inconsistencies and statements made only for the purpose of propaganda, and we can't help but be pleased when others notice these issues as well.

    Beryl Simkins

  5. This comment is interesting: "Accepting such an invitation to be a part of the Southern Cone's House of Bishops may not necessarily define my relationship with The Episcopal Church particularly since this may only be a temporary arrangement." Yes, and as the Sufi story ends, "In time the King may die, or I may die; or the ass may learn to talk."

    In all honesty, how long does he expect to live? I don't mean him any ill will. I only observe that, unless the Kingdom comes first, we will all die. So, while arrangements between the Episcopal Church, the Church of England, the Province of the Southern Cone, and other provinces within the Anglican Communion may change, one must question just how "temporary" is his decision for himself.

    Personally, I fear he is neither in denial, or demented per se. Rather, I think he has been repeating his "big lie" for so long, with so many "yes-men" around him to repeat it, that he has come to believe it.

  6. It is always a lot easier to let the spotlight be directed to someone else, rather than have it shine on us. While this Bishop may be in denial, he is NO MORE in denial than the majority of TEC that thinks that they have not departed from the faith, tradition and reason, as well as the Scriptures in the decisions that they have made in the last decade.
    It has separated itself from the rest of Catholicism, and the more that the leadership of TEC speaks, the more it seems to be seperating itself even further. So, yes, he may be in denial about women's ordinations, and the New thing, but he is certainly not in any more denial than the majority of TEC thinking that what they are doing is in any way confirmed by any of history, which is why the left is so "militant" about what they are doing....they know they are wrong, historically, traditionally and Scripturally.

  7. I know this comes at a time late with all the new information available but I dont believe he is in denial at all.

    He is your basic liar. Truth cannot come out of his mouth, it is not within his nature.

  8. Well, he's either in denial or, as you also pointed out, he is mentally unstable. Was it some alter-ego or a Schofield impersonator who was at the San Joaquin Diocesan Convention three weeks ago where a certain rogue Bishop blasted away at the Episcopal Church? The Convention requests his oversight? Ah, no. That's not how I read his rant. It seemed clear he was at the head of the parade! Is it too much to ask this man to be honest about his intentions? And if he really can't stand women serving as priests and gay people cause him great discomfort, why doesn't he do everyone a favor and go back to Rome and let his people go?

  9. When will KJS refer this matter to the Title IV Review committee?

    You rightly conclude Schofield has abandoned the communion of this Church, but here's what I don't get. You're a member of Executive Council; why is the Presiding Bishop silent when Schofield is busy abusing clergy and closing churches that disagree with him?

  10. "Separated itself from the rest of Catholicism?"

    As a lapsed Catholic who came to TEC by way of marriage but has stayed by way of preference, I'd just like to ask--wasn't that the point?

  11. Narcissistic Personality Disorder*

    Pathological Narcissism at a Glance
    What is NPD?

    By Dr Sam Vaknin

    An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy,usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:

    Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

    Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting

    Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)

    Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).

    Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favourable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations

    Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends

    Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others

    Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her

    Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.
    The language in the criteria above is based on or summarized from:

    American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

    Sam Vaknin. (1999). Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited , first edition. Prague and Skopje: Narcissus Publication.

    http://www.ohno.pwp.blueyonder.c...es/ narcissm.htm

    Leonardo Ricardo

  12. <...which is why the left is so "militant" about what they are doing....they know they are wrong, historically, traditionally and Scripturally.>

    Rev. J,

    With all due respect, the majority of Episcopalians are raised to think that our "traditions" and "historical roots" are in the Prayer Book and the liturgy. We love Scripture because it tells us something new with every reading as we grow in our faith.

    We are taught that God did not stop sending us messages with any one translation of the Bible. That if your faith is deep and true, you can question the past and emerge with better understanding of how to live the Gospel in today's world. Because the world does not stop changing, nor should we stop learning how to love the God we will never truly understand. We are merely human beings, searching and growing.

    And our roots are in our local parish churches. Celebrating the beauty of our common liturgy, working together to make our communities better for everyone - as our Lord Jesus taught us.

    And our Lord taught us that we must break all rules and traditions if it keeps us from treating anyone with less than kindness and respect.

    That a house of worship is just that - a place where commerce and politics must be set aside. I think he would also advise today's Christians to stay out of other people's bedrooms. That we must see each other as children loved by God despite how and who we love in hearth and home. And that means we stay out of the bedrooms of our priests and bishops, too.

    Our Episcopalian hearts are open. Open to all that scholars have taught us of ancient Greek and Hebrew, and ancient cultures.

    Look to God, Father J, not the traditions of man and the historical Church. God is still talking, and the Holy Spirit is still here to guide us as the world changes.

    Open your heart, and you will be blessed with new messages everyday. Close it, and the kingdom will be incomplete.
    Look not to the faith once delivered to the saints. I suggest the faith delivered to the Apostles. They changed the world.

  13. I keep wondering how TEC has "departed from the faith." Which of these "decisions it has made in the last decade" has anything, even remotely, to do with the historic Creeds - which are the doctrine of our Church?

    And I'm really getting quite tired of hearing how recognizing that gay people exist and are basically no different from straight people is somehow equivalent to "departure from reason." It really looks to be quite the other way around from where I'm sitting.

    Really, folks: the only thing you've got is the big T. Yes, you have "Tradition" on your side - but I hate to tell you that's all you've got.

    Please, get ahold of yourselves.

  14. What is now the Anglican Communion "separated itself from the rest of Catholicism" in 1559, revj+

  15. "Thief" "Delusional" "Liar"
    "Mentally Unstable"

    When you have lost and you are too darn dumb to know it is time to lay down and die, you do the only thing you have left to preserve any sense of self worth -- you atttack the one who has succeeded where you have failed so miserably.

  16. Virginia Gal..
    "We are taught that God did not stop sending us messages."
    And I agree, He did not and has not. But what God does NOT do is to "contradict" Himself. What the Episcopal Church is doing today is contradicting Scripture, and or "Reinterpreting" it in a way that no one ever has before, or if they have, they have not remained in communion with anyone else, and they are doing that claiming "divine revelation". Isn't it interesting that no other part of the Christian Church is interpreting it that way, unless you look to the Unitarians Universalists Church, which the Episcopal Church is seemingly following in more ways than one. Their latest push is for "group marriage"; several people, who "really love each other", can be united and raise a whole bunch of kids and everyone can love each other like a nice 60's commune. Legalizing perversion has ramifications that even TEC cannot forsee. Coming down the pike is group sex, or some nice politically correct name that does not make it sound so bad, then the legalization of pedifilia. The MANBLA had a link on the website of Integrity, until, during GC 03it was removed before the vote of Bsp Robinson. The entire push of TEC on the issue of Gays is all based on a flawed study done 15 years ago, and when the truth was know, it was never given the publicity that the lie was given, and for good reason. So, the lie persist, but God is not amused I am sure, and people like Mark will publish things like the picture of Jesus with words coming out of His mouth which delights the Devil in ways that we will never know in this life.

  17. "The MANBLA had a link on the website of Integrity, until, during GC 03it was removed before the vote of Bsp Robinson."

    Well, we've heard some whoppers over the course of the past 4 years, but this beats all, hands down.

    Speaking of "lies"! This is a total and complete fabrication (spelling error not included). I'm always amazed at the lengths some people will go to in order to smear and slander gay people.

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised anymore. In any case, it means nobody has to pay any further attention to "rev j+," since his or her credibility is now completely shot. Thanks for that, anyway, rev.

  18. "in Virginia and Southern California where litigation has been pursued vigorously against those who oppose the innovations of The Episcopal Church and who, consequently, have stood up for their faith and remain protective of the property they have built, purchased and maintained with no help either from The Episcopal Church on a national level nor –in most instances– from the local diocese either."

    These statements always intrigue me. Did their staff and clergy participate in the Diocesan health and pension plans? Yes. Did their parishes use Diocesan facilities (e.g., Shrine Mont in Virginia)? Yes. Did their clergy attend Episcopal seminaries such as VTS? Yes. Did they use Diocesan loan funds for church planting? Yes.

    Did they cease making an annual contribution to the Diocesan coffers yet continue to use Diocesan resources? Yep.

    So, tell me again about this lack of support from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia....

  19. In exactly what was has Former Bishop Schofield succeeded?

    In locking the faithful out of their churches? Shutting down more churches than he has planted? Opening his diocese to ruinous legal liability for the sake of his own vainglorious ambition? Making the entire church a participant in his tedious little psychodrama of self-loathing?

    Do you people even try to make sense anymore?

  20. As an Episcopalian I don't HAVE to believe in the stuff this bishop does. I DON'T believe in the virgin birth, physical resurrection of Christ or his diety or that salvation is through Christ alone. I have the LIBERTY to believe whatever I want. Thank goodness this bishop is in another province.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.