Friday, January 15, 2016

A Summary of Robert Sungenis and the Jews


This blog was created to document and provide a counter-balance to Robert Sungenis' problematic views and history related to the Jewish people, beginning in September 2006 and up to the present. The following topical directory is available to help readers more easily navigate the articles on this blog. "Labels" are also available on the right-hand side of the blog in order to locate articles that touch on various topics.


Over the past couple of years, Robert Sungenis and some of his close associates have returned to making false accusations against his diocese and former ordinary, Bishop Kevin Rhoades. Sungenis has also subsequently published an article that violates one of his many promises to restrict himself to purely theological matters when Jews were involved and to maintain charity "as if the bishop were present with us."  This broken promise is merely the latest in a long line of broken promises. As a result, some articles documenting Sungenis's problematic views about the Jewish people and the falsehood of his accusations against his diocese and former ordinary have again been made available to the public.

Sungenis has gone to great lengths to portray his conflict with Bishop Rhoades and other Catholics as stemming from his efforts to defend the purity of Catholic doctrine in regard to the Jewish people. His claim is completely and demonstrably false.  While the most recent articles below deal with doctrinal issues, we have presented them primarily in order to illustrate that Sungenis's accusations of "heresy" against his critics (including his own bishop) have been and continue to be a canard used by him to take the focus off the actual reason he's gotten into so much hot water with his bishop and so many others:  his anti-Jewish prejudice.  This anti-Jewish prejudice was publicly expressed for over a decade on issues that have nothing to do with theology -- ranging from historical revisionism to conspiracy theories about Jews. However, even in regard to doctrinal issues and scriptural interpretations involving Jews, Sungenis has made numerous errors because his theology is tainted by his prejudice against them (for example, see here and here). He has repeatedly demonstrated that if Jews are involved, he is unable to maintain any semblance of fairness and objectivity.

Robert Sungenis and the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults 
Was Sungenis the first and/or only one to notice a problematic sentence on page 131 of the USCCA and did he single-handedly cause the U.S. bishops to change it, as he publicly claims? Did the U.S. bishops "vindicate" Sungenis's personal views on "supersessionism," as he also publicly claims?  Was the conspiracy theory he publicly floated about the U.S. bishops true? What role did Sungenis actually play in regard to the change to the problematic sentence on page 131 of the USCCA?  Is he uniquely qualified to handle Jewish issues?  These questions and more are answered.

Sungenis's Continued Misuse of "Supersessionism"
Sungenis unfortunately continues to treat the term "Supersessionism" as if it is magisterial.  It is not of Catholic origin and appears in no magisterial texts. It's a loaded term that can and does carry very different connotations, implications and nuances.  Some versions of supersessionism are not in accord with Catholic teaching. Sungenis himself holds to a version of "supersessionism" that then Cardinal Dulles aptly characterized as "crude" and that we have characterized as "extreme." Click here and here (scroll down to "Supersessionism, Redux") for more in-depth discussion of Sungenis's problems as they pertain to supersessionism.

Is Sungenis Right About a Future Special Conversion of the Jewish People to Christ?
Short answer?  No.  In fact, contrary to Sungenis, there is widespread evidence from the Church Fathers, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Scripture, various saints, Popes and renowned scholars that there will be a future, special conversion of the Jewish people to Christ. Click herehere and here for even more evidence that Sungenis is incorrect.

Sungenis on Romans 11:  Theological Bias in Biblical Exegesis
David Palm discusses several of Sungenis's errors regarding Romans 11 and the Jewish people.

Why Sungenis is Wrong to Insist on Saying the Old Covenant is "Revoked"
Sungenis continues to insist on using a word in relation to the Old Covenant that the magisterium has never used:  revoked.  Take a look the facts and reasons why avoiding this term makes sense. You can read more here as well.

Why Sungenis is Wrong to Consider the New Covenant a Punishment of the Jewish People
Watch on as David Palm exposes Sungenis's erroneous "theology of punishment" at the Catholic Answers Forum. Click here and here for two additional posts by Palm dealing with Sungenis's fundamental error about the establishment of the New Covenant.

Why Sungenis is Wrong to Deny the Inherent Jewishness of the Catholic Church
David Palm explains how Sungenis's anti-Jewish bias leads him to flirt with multiple heresies.

Is Sungenis Right About the Identity of the "Olive Tree" and "Root" in Romans 11?
Sungenis insists that the "root" of Romans 11 is Christ alone. Unfortunately, it seems that his anti-Jewish inclinations are influencing his theology again.  There's a considerable number of Catholic witnesses who disagree with him, including the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Church Fathers, renowned Scripture scholars and even Pope Benedict XVI. And it doesn't help that he was caught cropping quotes to make Church Fathers appear to say the opposite of what they actually said.

Sungenis's Theology of Prejudice Against the Jewish People
Several examples are presented that demonstrate how Sungenis's bias against the Jewish people has adversely colored his theology:  The Conversion of the Jews, The Antichrist as a Jew, The Good Friday "Demand",  Pope Benedict XVI on the Jews, and more.

All in the Family:  Christians, Jews and God
An in-depth look at what the Church has taught about our relationship with the Jewish people, and the Jewish people's continuing relationship with God. In particular, a critique of two opposing errors common in certain circles:  the dual covenant theory and extreme supersessionism. (Sungenis falls in the latter camp).

Two Narratives and 15 False Claims About Bishop Rhoades
Sungenis and his friend Rick DeLano have labored to create a false narrative about what happened between Sungenis and Bishop Rhoades and why. In the process, they have spread many false claims about His Excellency, 15 of which are exposed and corrected in this piece.

Sungenis Privately Admits He No Longer Believes Bishop Rhoades is Teaching Heresy on the Old Covenant But Continues to Publicly Accuse Him of It Regardless
Remarkably, Bob Sungenis privately admitted that he no longer believes Bishop Rhoades holds to a  heresy in regard to the Old Covenant (Bob now thinks the real problem was some other "evil man" who was the "mastermind behind the whole thing")...but that hasn't stopped him from continuing to publicly make the slanderous charge against His Excellency, regardless.

Sungenis Comes Out at the Catholic Answers Debate David Palm
A close supporter and member of Sungenis's inner circle came out at the CAF anonymously to take a dishonest shot at an article written by RSATJ contributors, only to be confronted and corrected.  Suddenly, Bob did something he rarely does:  he made an extended, online appearance at the CAF himself.  See how Bob was repeatedly challenged by David to defend his charges and how he repeatedly failed to do so...and much more.  The entire debate/thread at the CAF is very enlightening.

Answering Sungenis's Latest "Response" on the "Bishop Rhoades Affair"
Some of Bob's latest errors and dishonesty in his 34-page response regarding his interactions with Bishop Rhoades are exposed.

Answering Sungenis on the Conversion of the Jews...Again
Bob's latest fundamentalist-style attempt to deny this traditional, positive Church teaching about the Jewish people is answered...again.

Contra Sungenis on Elijah and the Conversion of the Jews
Bob has made accusations of supposed "blunders" and "exegetical duplicity" on the part of the Church Fathers in regard to the role of Elijah in the "Conversion of the Jews."  But David Palm shows that it is Sungenis who has blundered and behaved impiously.

Defending Pope Benedict XVI from Sungenis's Latest Attack
Bob has again treated Pope Benedict XVI very disrespectfully because Bob remains unable (or unwilling) to read carefully and charitably when Jews are involved.

Rick DeLano Crafts a Conspiracy Theory (01/28/12): A detailed response to Sungenis board member Rick DeLano concerning numerous factual errors and allegations he made concerning why Bishop Rhoades told Sungenis to take the name "Catholic" off of his organization (it had nothing to do with page 131 of the USCCA or the dual covenant error).


A History of Unjust Attacks Against Jews:

Timelines of Events

The Unjust Attacks of Bob Sungenis Against His Bishop:

Sungenis Smears Bishop, Continues to Mislead and Distort the Record (07/06/07)

Bishop Rhoades Sets The Record Straight (02/21/08)

By Sungenis Alone (03/29/08):

Slandering the Bishop, Again (05/13/08)

Bishop Rhoades and the Dual Covenant Theory (09/24/09)

Sungenis vs. Sungenis vs. Jones (Sungenis and Jones can't seem to get their slanders of Bishop Rhoades straight)

On Plagiarism:

On Fraudulent Quotations:

On Tainted Sources

On Sungenis' "Doctorate":

Denied Imprimaturs:

On Conspiracy Theories:

Monday, December 28, 2015

Is Sungenis Right About the "Root" in Romans 11?

Robert Sungenis has insisted that the "root" written of by St. Paul in Romans 11 must be Christ alone. In his CASB 2 (p. 149), he claimed this was "the constant teaching of the Fathers." 

Here are two other examples:

This is certainly a novel interpretation. Unfortunately for Moss, it totally distorts the words of Romans 11:17-20… Moss believes that the “root” of Romans 11 is Israel, not Christ, and that as the Gentiles are saved as they are grafted into Israel. This is wrong. The root is Christ, not Israel.….It is as if Moss is saying, “You Gentiles are only saved because of us Jews, and in order to appreciate that fact, you should practice these Jewish rituals.”

And more recently, Sungenis wrote:
Paul does not say 'root of Israel.' He refers to Israel as a 'branch,' not the 'root.' One cannot be both a branch and a root, which means that someone else is the root, which is Christ...the Church does not draw nourishment from the 'root of Israel' for Israel is not the root in Paul’s analogy. Christ is the root, and Israel is merely a branch...Whatever else Benedict XVI believed about the relationship between Christians and Jews, he never says “Israel is the root” in Paul’s analogy.

The “Moss” that Sungenis refers to above David Moss, president of the Association of Hebrew Catholics (AHC). Sungenis seemed clearly irritated at what he perceived as David Moss’ Jewish arrogance (“You Gentiles are only saved because of us Jews…”). But as we'll see below, it seems to be Sungenis's long standing anti-Jewish predispositions that are coloring his interpretation of what Moss wrote. 

Sungenis almost treats this passage as though the meaning of it has been dogmatically defined in the way he interprets it and thus Moss or anyone else is dangerous heretic for contradicting that interpretation. But there are two problems with this strong criticism. The first is that David Moss has never said that “the root is Israel, not Christ.” Here Bob puts words into Moss’s mouth that make the case look more ominous, more absolute. In fact, I have confirmed with Moss that he has no issue with seeing the root as Christ as well. He never intended to “deny” this possibility.  The second problem is that there is a considerable number of Catholic authorities who disagree with Sungenis's interpretation -- including, ironically, Benedict XVI. 

To make matters worse, Ben Douglass, who was Sungenis's own vice president at the time, has stated that Sungenis selectively cropped quotes to make the Church Fathers appear to say the exact opposite of what they actually said about Israel as the "Olive Tree" in Romans 11. This is all documented in The Theologyof Prejudice, which is well worth reading.

So let's take a look at the passage in question. 

In Romans 11, St. Paul writes at length about God’s relationship with the Israelite people.  In particular he focuses on understanding the fact that so many of his Jewish brethren have not accepted the promised Messiah.  Did this mean that the children of Israel were rejected by God? And what implications did this have for the Gentiles?

St. Paul then writes: 

For if their (the Jews’) rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  If the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches.  If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you.  Indeed you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is so.  They were broken off because of unbelief, but you are there because of faith.  So do not become haughty, but stand in awe.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you either.  (Rom. 11: 15-22)

So, who or what exactly is the “root” to which St. Paul refers?  Contrary to Sungenis's insistence, it would seem that a very common answer is the Patriarchs of Israel. Although, there is certainly solid evidence that “root” may also refer to Jesus Christ, the Israelite par excellence. And there is some evidence that it may also be considered to refer to Israel itself, including a statement by our current pontiff.

So what do we make of these apparent discrepancies?  I would argue that these varying interpretations reveal a deeper truth, not a contradiction.  To be grafted onto the Patriarchs of Israel, Israel itself or Jesus Christ (the Israelite par excellence) essentially amounts the same thing in the imagery St. Paul chose.  It is God’s life-giving grace that flows through the roots and trunk of the tree, grace which is mediated to the branches. In human terms, the life-giving grace of God has been mediated to men through Abraham and the Patriarchs of Israel, Israel itself and of course Jesus Christ, the Israelite par excellence, the representative head of Israel (Galatians 3). 

In Scripture, Isaiah prophesied that Christ would sprout forth from the “stump of Jesse”, the father of King David (Isaiah 11:1).  Jacob/Israel and Judah are spoken of as “taking root” in Isaiah 27:6 and 37:31, respectively. The Old Testament expressly describes Israel as the olive tree itself in Jer. 11:16 and Hos 14:7 (not merely "a branch" as Sungenis insists). And Christ is clearly spoken of as the “root” in Revelation 5:5 and 22:16. God’s grace was showered upon man because of and through the faith of Abraham, and continued in this way through certain of his progeny, eventually passing through Jacob (Israel) and culminating in the Israelite par excellence, Jesus Christ.

Below are several interpretations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Church Fathers and various Catholic scripture scholars, including Benedict XVI:

1) Fr. George Leo HaydockA Comprehensive Catholic Commentary, page 1,494.

“By the root, says St. Chysostom, he understands Abraham and the Patriarchs, from whom all the Jewish nation proceeded, as branches from that root…”

2) Moffat New Testament CommentaryThe Epistle to the Romans, page 178.

 “The ‘root’ is the patriarchs”

3) Dom Bernard OrchardCatholic Commentary on Holy Scripture 1951, page 1072 and 558, respectively: 

“(St. Paul) is no renegade, and Israel…has not lost the holiness which she inherited from the Patriarchs, who are…her roots.”

“’In the days to come, Israel shall take root…’ The world’s salvation is from Israel.”

4) Fr. Richard Stack, Lectures on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, 1806, page 330:

 “By the root is meant Abraham…”

5) Fr. Charles Callan, The Epistles of St. Paul, page 184:

“The firstfruit and the root mean the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. who were holy men and faithful servants of God.”

6) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), Many Religions- One Covenant, page 32:

“we must .. first ask what this view of the historical figure of Jesus means for the existence of those who know themselves to be grafted through him onto the 'olive tree Israel', the children of Abraham.”  [Note:  Here Benedict XVI clearly sees the Gentiles as being grafted on to Israel].

7) St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, XX, 3) Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Philip Schaff, pg 147:

“Then, when ye were stripped, ye were anointed with exorcised oil, from the very hairs of your head to your feet, and were made partakers of the good olive-tree, Jesus Christ. For ye were cut off from the wild olive-tree, and grafted into the good one, and were made to share the fatness [abundance] of the true olive tree. The exorcised oil therefore was a symbol of the participation of the fatness of Christ, being a charm to drive away every trace of hostile influence.”

8) St. Augustine:

Sermons, XXVII, 12:

"Therefore did the Lord at once graft the wild olive into the good olive tree. He did it then when He said, 'Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”

"So then for this reason that people did not come to Him, that is by reason of pride; and the natural branches are said to be broken off from the olive tree, that is from that people founded by the Patriarchs [Israel]."

Augustine to Faustus the Manichean, Bk 9 2:

"You say that the apostle, in leaving Judaism, passed from the bitter to the sweet. But the apostle himself says that the Jews, who would not believe in Christ, were branches broken off, and that the Gentiles, a wild olive tree, were grafted into the good olive, that is, the holy stock of the Hebrews, that they might partake of the fatness of the olive."

9) The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#755):

"The Church is a cultivated field, the tillage of God. On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets."

10) Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Romans), Bray (Editor), p 293:

a) Diodore:  “First fruits and root both refer her to the patriarchs, the lawgiver and the prophets.”

b) Pseudo-Constantius: “The root refers to Abraham…”

c) Theodore of Mopsuestia: “by root he means, Abraham…”

d) Theodoret of Cyr;  “the root is Abraham…”

e) Pelagius: “Do not rejoice in the fall of the Jews…you do not supply them with life, but they supply you.”  [Here Pelagius seems to see Israel, or the Jews, as the root that mediates God’s grace.]

f) Ambrosiaster:  “the Jews were not rejected for the sake of the Gentiles.  Rather it was because they were rejected that they gave an opportunity for the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles.  If you boast against those onto whose root you have been grafted, you insult the people who have accepted you so that you might be converted…You will not continue like that if you destroy the thing on which you stand.”  (Here Ambrosiaster seems to be saying that the Gentiles “stand” on the Jews, that they have been grafted onto them.)

g) Chysostom: “if the Gentile, who was cut off from his natural fathers and come, contrary to nature, to Abraham, how much more will God be able to recover his own!”

h) Chrysostom: Ver. 16. "For if the first-fruits be holy, the lump also is holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches;"So calling in this passage by the names of the first-fruit and root Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, the prophets, the patriarchs, all who were of note in the Old Testament; and the branches, those from them who believed.  

(Homilies on Romans, Homily XIX)

i) Pseudo-Constantius: “Paul says that the Gentiles have been grafted against nature onto the root, that is, onto the faith of the Patriarchs.”

[This article was originally published in 2006.]

Monday, December 9, 2013

Proverbs 26:11

More Broken Promises, More Attacks

As documented most fully here, the perplexing pattern of going on the offense, issuing a pseudo-apology for offense, promising to change course, and then totally reversing course and going back to more offenses - continues unabated at Sungenis’ organization, BTF.

In January, 2008, Sungenis made the following promise:

Sungenis: “Because such political, cultural and social criticism of the Jews can so easily be misunderstood, I have decided to refrain from any more dealings with those aspects of Jewish life. I’ll leave criticism of Jewish politics and culture to people more capable than I apparently am. My expertise is in theology, and that is where I will put all my efforts. Hence, any future dealings that I have with the Jews, whether on our website or in published articles, will only concern the theological side of things. As you can see by the Jewish material presently on our website, every article is about theological matters, and that will always be the policy of our apostolate from here on out… I will not be expressing those (Jewish, non-theological) opinions in my speeches, articles, website or any other public venue. Again, I will only be expressing my thoughts in public that deal with the theological dimensions, as our apostolate has done for the past several months. ” (January 25, 2008)

If one reads Sungenis’ entire statement, one will note a complete lack of reference to anyone at RSATJ or Sungenis’ bishop, the Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades. Sungenis’ promise here emanated from his own personal discernment. Of course, if one has followed Sungenis’ affairs, a remarkably similar statement issued by Sungenis in the fall of 2006 will likely come to mind - Sungenis “Open Letter” (which can be found here)

And just as Sungenis broke his promises in 2006, he has done so in 2008. At present, there are many entries at BTF that violate Sungenis’ promise to stick solely to theological issues. And even when an issue is primarily theological in nature, Sungenis’ animus against Jews is still readily apparent.

Sungenis’ continuing anti-Jewish course only further validates Bishop Rhoades’ wisdom in directing Sungenis to stop writing about all Jewish issues and further underscores that the problem has never been about the dual covenant error. That argument is and has always been a canard.

The first example of such promise-breaking, Jim Condit Warns of ABC’s “Jesus, Mary and DaVinci" – the opening sentence of which is “Top Media Jews Commit This Year's Holy Week Atrocity” - dredges up some of the very same anti-Semites that first created problems for Sungenis back in 2002 (as documented by Dr. Bill Cork and a number of others here ). One will find familiar names like Dilling, Hoffman, Pranaitis and Piper in this article now posted at Sungenis’ site.

Additionally, in this article, one will find the interesting claim that "The Talmud, or at least most of it, was developed...about 200 BC when the Rabbis and Pharisees who rejected Christianity started to put together their own man-made defense of their now superceded religion." How the "Rabbis and Pharisees" began opposing Christianity 200 years before Christ was born is left unexplained. Perhaps Condit was simply confused between "AD" and "BC".

Then we have Bob’s review of The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, in which (among other things), we experience the déjà vu of another misleading and false "quote" intended to prove the Jewish make-up of a purported political cabal. This time, conservative columnist David Brooks is the victim (article).

Next is the article Overlooked Millions: Non-Jewish Victims of the Holocaust, which - in an an eery echo of a statement Sungenis made soon before Michael Forrest quit CAI - informs us that the claims of "millions" of deaths in the concentration camps are "highly exaggerated." (p. 12)

And in Q&A #76, we read the following:

Questioner: I was wondering if someone could tell me how accurate Texe Marrs' claims are about Jewish world domination in his video 'The Power of Prophecy'

Sungenis: …his material seems to be factual and his analysis fairly accurate, at least when it comes to Jewish issues. Unlike most commentators today, Marrs is unafraid to tell the negative side on Jewish matters.

For those who have followed Sungenis' anti-Jewish crusade, the name Texe Marrs may ring a bell. In fact, Bob gave an infamous radio interview - the one in which he posited that Jews sent in Monica Lewinsky to take down President Clinton - at a station that features Marrs and other interesting characters. Some of the "interesting" titles to be found at Marrs' website are:

Slaves of Zion—America Has Become a Jewish Colony
Now We Are All Toiling on the Zionist USA Slave Plantation
9-11 Evil—Israel's Central Role in the Sept. 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks
All Hail the Jewish Master Race
The Synagogue of Satan: The Secret History of Jewish World Domination.

One will also discover such anti-Catholic titles as:

Vatican Rising: The Seduction of Christianity and the Triumph of Rome
The Vatican Terminator
The Pope, the Devil and the Masonic Lodge
Is The Pope Catholic?—Shocking Revelations About the World's Most Powerful Religious Leader
Vatican Rising—The Seduction of Christianity and the Triumph of Rome

In The Vatican Terminator, we read:

Satan has chosen a new Pope. This new, chosen vessel will not only inherit the ecumenical legacy of the aging and increasingly frail Pope John Paul II, he will be endowed with the occult energies to found and organize a stunning New World Religion.

In the ad for Vatican Rising we read:

Triumphantly, the Pope is adored by multitudes who tout him as their "Holy Father." He occupies a regal throne and claims to speak for God. Some believe he is God! So, what now? Are hidden supernatural powers about to be unleashed that will magnify the Pope and crown him Lord of all?

Yet, disturbingly, Bob is completely unfazed by Marrs' anti-Catholicism, even going so far as to excuse it. Bob writes:

Marrs, of course, does have his issues with the Catholic Church, but who doesn't? Many leaders in the Catholic Church today are complicit with the negative material Marrs uncovers. (source)

Even Protestant apologist James White has described Marrs as a "true anti-Catholic." Ironically, after accusing others of having greater "allegiances" to Jewish causes than the Catholic faith, it appears that Bob has greater allegiances to his fellow anti-Jewish conspiracy theorists than he does to the Catholic faith. What does it matter if Marrs is out and about teaching that the Holy Father is Satan's chosen one? Marrs understands the problem with Jews!

Another extreme example at BTF is Bob’s friend and perhaps most vocal supporter, Edgar Suter. An extended screed that is representative of Suter's writing can be found in the January, 2008 issue of Culture Wars (pp 2-4). In this letter, Suter expresses his aspiration that a future Pope will exhume John Paul II's corpse, cut off his fingers, and throw his mutilated body into the Tiber River. Ben Douglass has also confirmed that Suter was a source of blatantly anti-Semitic material posted CAI/BTF, such as that from the white-supremacist National Vanguard. Suter can also be seen on BTF's current Q and A board (here and here) referencing the "pedagogy of deceit of the Rabbis" and putting scare quotes around the word "Jews." This is the way anti-Semites convey their belief in a thoroughly debunked extremist theory that the Jewish people of today are not actually Jewish at all, they are ethnic pretenders.

More to the case at hand, Suter recently wrote the following in reaction to the Holy Father's alteration of the Good Friday prayer:

Thank you for the sad news.

Certainly the synagogue of Satan is quite experienced in the combined arts of shadow play and managed opposition. Of course Foxman will not be truly happy unless the Noachide Laws can be enforced so that we "idolators" who worship "that man" will be liable for execution. I find no satisfaction that Foxman is not yet in a position to ensure that "the best of the Gentiles should all be killed."...

As for those impostors "who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie," Jesus was quite clear about their parentage at John 8:44, was He not? Abraham and Moses, but not the sons of the devil, are my elder brothers.

(email of February 7, 2008)

Even Fr. Brian Harrison, who has recently come publicly to Bob’s defense, described Suter’s rant as “totally paranoid” and “crazy” (email of February 7, 2008). Father Harrison later characterized Suter as one of the “real anti-Semitic Catholics….brimming with hostility and suspicion against everything Jewish” (email of March 6, 2008). Yet Bob cannot even manage to distance himself from Suter.

Another pertinent Q and A on Jewish issues currently at BTF is #44. Below is the last section of the entry:

The goals [of the] Christ Crucifiers has [sic] been for hundreds of years 1) Get the deicide crime abolished. 2) Get the Old Covenant to be still valid for them by the Vatican. 3) Get the Noahide Laws established worldwide by placing 5th columns in the 5 great religions of the world.

And what was Sungenis' response? In response to his patron’s slander of modern Jews as "Christ Crucifiers," one might hope Sungenis would at least quote Nostra Aetate #4: "what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today."

Maybe he would even quote another passage: "this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues."

Perhaps he might even have gone as far as to fraternally admonish his patron for regurgitating the kind of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories that he himself had finally promised to swear off.

Unfortunately, Sungenis chose none of the above. Instead, he replied:

R. Sungenis: And that's why we are here to preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ- in order to rebut these false ideas.

And thus he confirmed his patron's "wisdom" and the continuing purpose of CAI-BTF.

Of course, then we have the following excerpt from Sungenis’ recent review of E. Michael Jones’ latest book, which Sungenis remarkably praised as “like a sequel to the Bible”:

" Jones,...makes an indelible impression upon our minds as he adds two millennia of documented facts and figures onto St. Paul's final and sobering assessment of the Jews: 'the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us; they do not please God, and are opposed to everyone, trying to prevent us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved, thus constantly filling up the measure of their sins' (1 Thessalonians 2:15-16)....All his facts and figures are for the purpose of showing us that St. John's label of godless Jews as the 'synagogue of Satan,' the spirit of Antichrist, is not only alive and well today but has almost completely overwhelmed our modern society, thus serving as a public omen to the world that the Apocalypse has, indeed, come upon us, in full and furious force" (article).

Certainly, this contemporary, broad-brush condemnation of the Jewish people also seems to run directly contrary to Nostra Aetate’s teaching that, "what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today." (#4)

Very recently, Sungenis has added a “news alert” bewailing the fact has refused to sell the latest book written by his colleague and source of Jewish information, Michael Hoffman II. Hoffman, of course, is a notorious Holocaust “Revisionist” and conspiracy theorist who also believes the debunked, extremist theory that today’s Jews are ethnic pretenders. He is the same man who disgustingly defamed Sungenis’ bishop as a “fag” without receiving a single word of rebuke from Sungenis (article). Yet, Sungenis is concerned enough about Michael Hoffman II’s book sales to put up a “news alert” for him.

Next, we have Sungenis’ “response” to Mark Shea in which he makes the following eye-opening comments:

“"it's time for people to wake up and stop being corralled by the Jewish slave masters" (p. 10).

He suggested that Bishop Rhoades is paying “homage” to the Jews “because they own the mortgages on the Catholic buildings erected in his and other Catholic dioceses.” (p. 10)

There are the following “news alerts” at BTF as well:

Chris Matthews: Presidential Election Should Not Be about Israel

Vatican Officials Excise Scriptures to Accommodate Jews

Orthodox Jews Burn the New Testament

Einstein Letter Disses God, the Bible and Religion

Now, some of the information in these articles may be true, of course. But that is not the point. Sungenis promised he would no longer address Jewish issues unless they were actually theological. Again, his most recent of several broken promises, as of January 2008 was:

“I have decided to refrain from any more dealings with those aspects of Jewish life. I’ll leave criticism of Jewish politics and culture to people more capable than I apparently am. My expertise is in theology, and that is where I will put all my efforts. Hence, any future dealings that I have with the Jews, whether on our website or in published articles, will only concern the theological side of things. As you can see by the Jewish material presently on our website, every article is about theological matters, and that will always be the policy of our apostolate from here on out.”

Most recently, we have the newest “article review” at BTF: Georgia, Israel and the Future. In the second half of Sungenis’ review he puts an extended “plug” in for a book about a conspiracy theory involving Fatima and ends with this:

The conflict in Georgia has more to it than meets the eye. By and large, Georgia is a Jewish stronghold, politically and economically. It just so happens that the Jews and their friends in Georgia were persecuting and killing Christians. But the province in Georgia had a pact with Russia that if such an attack would occur, Russia would come to its defense, which is precisely what happened. Of course, the Neocon-dominated USA portrays it only as an instance of Russian aggression, and tries to make Russia look like an international pariah, just as it has done with Iran of late. In reality, Georgia is just another conflict between Jews and Christians, a dimension of the conflict that is systematically glossed over by the news media.

Sungenis then provided links to articles in case one wanted even more about what he described as “the political intrigue.” Theology, indeed. Of course, Sungenis does not inform his readers that there are merely an estimated 13,000 Jews in all of Georgia and that Georgia is comprised by and large of Orthodox Christians.

And finally, we have the following Q & A. While the issues involved are indeed theological, the problem is that Sungenis managed to take an innocuous question about No Salvation Outside the Church (EENS) – one that does not even mention Jews – and answered it with an extended criticism that singles out “the Jews”.

Contrary to Fr. Harrison's recent complaint, no one is attempting to read Robert Sungenis’ heart. To paraphrase St. James, Sungenis’ works (and words) speak clearly for themselves. He has broken his latest promise to refrain from addressing non-theological matters involving the Jewish people. And even when he does address issues of a theological nature, he continues to misuse theology in order to push his personal, anti-Jewish agenda (click here for additional proof).

Sungenis has repeatedly made it clear that the reason for any scaling back in his attacks upon the Jewish people is due simply to the same pragmatic considerations he has previously offered in years past - “because my intentions could very easily be misunderstood,” for the sake of “peace”, and “to calm some of the storm.” (Although, upon viewing the number of items about Jews on his home page as of late, it is difficult to notice any real scaling back at all.) These are his own public words and they are entirely in keeping with the long-standing pattern he has followed since 2002 (article).

January, 2008:

Sungenis: “I can also understand how and why, when my quotes are isolated and placed in this video (a video of some of Sungenis’ statements about Jews), people who view it would react negatively…My intentions could be very easily misunderstood, and the potentiality of that is very high. Hence, because such political, cultural and social criticism of the Jews can so easily be misunderstood, I have decided to refrain from any more dealings with those aspects of Jewish life.”

Sungenis: “Whether right or wrong, I took them down so there could be peace between me and my Jewish opponents.”

Response to P. Catan

February 2008:

Sungenis: “I did decide to calm some of the storm by removing Jewish articles from my website…”

Of course, it would be very interesting to see Sungenis finally explain how he was simply “misunderstood” when writing that Jews have “infected our Catholic Church" or when making the numerous other statements documented here.

One will search in vain to find a true, unadulterated expression of remorse, personal fault or change of heart. To the contrary, Sungenis has repeatedly made it clear that “no one” will change his mind about “the Jews” or that while he may partially refrain from saying so in public, he still believes these things about them “in my personal thoughts.”

Please carefully review the important statements Sungenis has made, below:

Sungenis: “I am not coming to you asking you to remove your website [RSATJ] as if I have relinquished these beliefs about the Jewish people…I am coming to you saying that I am no longer advertising them, and you should reciprocate by taking down your website that rebuts them. If you don't take it down…I will resume putting up Jewish articles on my site and I will revise and expand each one of them . . . As to the retraction in 2002, yes, I did it for "peace," because I still believed most of the things I wrote…Neither you nor anyone else is going to get me to change my mind about the Jews, Israel, Judaism and even Roy Schoeman…. I am here simply to make a deal with you.” (e-mail of 28 Aug 2007).

Sungenis: “"Neither you nor anyone else is going to get me to change my mind about the Jews, Israel, Judaism and even Roy Schoeman. What I'm telling you is, I will refrain from addressing it if you take down your website. I've said my piece and could easily move on.” (email of Aug. 28, 2007)

Sungenis: “Although some of the material in those [anti-Jewish] quotes I will reserve the right to hold and believe in my personal thoughts because I believe the material to be factual, nevertheless, I will not be expressing those opinions in my speeches, articles, website or any other public venue. " (BTF Q &A of 25 Jan 2008).

Sungenis’ own words are clear. He still personally holds to his offensive, prejudiced views of the Jewish people. He insists on his right to express them publicly when and where he deems fit - while apparently hoping that no one will notice or care that he has repeatedly promised to stop.

And so, when all of the verbiage is whittled down to the essentials, what does Sungenis actually offer all those he has offended, scandalized, confused, slandered and otherwise maligned over the past 6 years in order to obtain their pardon? Yet another promise – a promise he has already broken - that he will refrain from expressing at least some of his most offensive opinions with the kind of frequency we’ve seen over the past 6 years – because he has merely been “misunderstood” and for the sake of “peace”.

On the first attempt (back in 2002) many people – including the writers at RSATJ - were inclined to overlook the serious shortcomings of Sungenis’ apologies in the hope that a small seed of regret might eventually grow into full-blown repentance. But after the second, third and fourth deficient attempts, a very old saying comes to mind: “Fool me once - shame on you. Fool me twice (thrice, four times?) – shame on me.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bishop Rhoades and the Dual Covenant Theory

While it is our intention to bring this blog to a close, we believe it is important to end by removing any possible remaining confusion caused by the false and slanderous accusations Robert Sungenis continues to level against his bishop, the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, in regard to the dual covenant error.

At the beginning of July, 2009, Lay Witness magazine published an article written by us entitled, “All in the Family: Christians, Jews and God,” (available on-line here).

In this article, we made the following statements directly rejecting the dual covenant error:

“The New Covenant in Christ has superseded the Mosaic (or “Old”) covenant. The term ‘supersession,’ which was first used by an Anglican minister, has subsequently been used by some Catholics to describe this truth. It appears in no magisterial texts; yet, as originally used, it does accurately describe Catholic teaching.”

“While the Church continues to grapple with certain nuances in the relationship among Jews, Christians, and God, she has never taught the dual covenant theory…”

“the dual covenant theory…fundamentally compromises the Church’s Great Commission, given by Christ (cf. Mt. 28:18–20). Additionally, the public advocacy of this theory has created an unwarranted expectation among our Jewish brethren that in turn leads to their understandable frustration each time the Church reaffirms that the Gospel and the Church are for all men.”

“the dual covenant theory holds…that [the Jewish people] have their own path to salvation through Judaism and therefore do not need to be—and should not be—presented with the Gospel and invited to expressly enter the Church (which is false).”

“The Scriptures, the Fathers, and the Magisterium consistently testify that the Good News of Jesus Christ and His Church is for all men—Jew and Gentile alike.

“God has given man one sure path to salvation, and that path is through the definitive and universal covenant in Jesus Christ by means of His Church. It is a serious error to direct anyone away from that sure path, regardless of the intention.”

In fact, Sungenis himself agreed that we rejected the dual covenant error, even commending us for it:

R. Sungenis: "Well, at least Forrest and Palm are not teaching the...heresy that Jews don't need Jesus Christ to be saved, as was Cardinal Keeler in the 2002 Reflections on Covenant and Missions document and the 2006 Catholic Catechism for Adults...for that Forrest and Palm are to be commended." (See here).

The problem for Sungenis is that Bishop Rhoades wrote a letter to Lay Witness (Sept/Oct 2009) in which he explicitly endorsed our criticism of the dual covenant error - stating that it was "right on the mark." In that endorsement, he also stated that he fully supported the U.S. bishops' "note" criticizing and correcting Reflections on Covenant and Mission (also available on-line here):

Dear Michael and David,

Thank you very much for your article All in the Family: Christians, Jews and God. I appreciate your good scholarship and your fidelity to the teachings of the Church. Your reflections bring much needed clarity to a complex topic. I believe your critique of both the dual covenant theory and extreme supersessionism is right on the mark.

I was also happy to support the Note on Ambiguities in "Reflections on Covenant and Mission" recently issued by the Committee on Doctrine and the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conclusion of that Note states: "With Saint Paul, we acknowledge that God does not regret, repent of, or change his mind about the "gifts and the call" that he has given to the Jewish people (Romans 11:29). At the same time, we also believe that the fulfillment of the covenants, indeed, of all God's promises to Israel, is found only in Jesus Christ. By God's grace, the right to hear this Good News belongs to every generation. Fulfilling the mandate given her by the Lord, the Church, respecting human freedom, proclaims the truths of the Gospel in love."

Thank you for proclaiming the truths of the Gospel in love!

Gratefully yours in Christ,

+Kevin C. Rhoades
Bishop of Harrisburg

As we reported over a year ago (see here), Bishop Rhoades also fully supported and voted for the change to the problematic sentence on page 131 of the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults. Bob has ignored this fact as well.

As such, while we have previously provided more than ample evidence of the orthodoxy of Bishop Rhoades’ beliefs and teaching in regard to the covenant issue and have illustrated that Bob’s proposed evidence wasn’t the evidence he thought it to be (here, here, here and here), His Excellency's letter to Lay Witness makes completely clear that – contrary to Bob’s public accusations:

1) Bishop Rhoades is not a proponent of Cardinal Keeler's problematic Reflections on Covenant and Mission document,
2) Bishop Rhoades is not a proponent of the dual covenant error,
3) Bishop Rhoades is not promoting a "hybrid" wherein the Old Covenant is salvific as long as it is "not apart from Christ."
4) Bishop Rhoades is not attempting to propagate “heresy” to “unsuspecting Catholics.”
5) Bishop Rhoades is not trying to convince or force anyone to adhere to the dual covenant error, and
6) Bishop Rhoades is not trying to silence anyone for merely criticizing the dual covenant error – in fact, His Excellency appreciates charitable and responsible efforts to address it.

Therefore, Bob’s public accusations against Bishop Rhoades are "slanderous and erroneous," exactly as His Excellency stated in February, 2008 (here).

While Bob would like everyone to believe that his personal war against Bishop Rhoades is about doctrinal purity, the facts prove that it has actually been about Bob's self-promotion. Some time ago, Bob and one of his most ardent followers accidentally exposed the real reason why he turned on Bishop Rhoades after first praising His Excellent profusely, pledging filial obedience to him and even assuring his followers that his bishop's teaching on Jewish issues was trustworthy. Anyone who wants to understand Bob's actual intentions and motivations, according to his own words, really needs to read this: click here.

Unfortunately, regardless of how many times he has been corrected, Bob continues to publicly level false and slanderous accusations of heresy against his bishop and remains unwilling to admit that he has done so based upon "evidence" that doesn’t begin to meet his own previously stated standards and criteria. Below are the standards and criteria Sungenis himself established while publicly defending the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#121) against the charge of heresy – specifically in regard to its teaching that “the Old Covenant has never been revoked” (here):

It's ambiguous, but it's not heresy. . . . I'll grant you that your reasoning COULD be a possible interpretation, but the point is that you don't know it IS the interpretation, at least not well enough to levy the charge of heresy. Heresy does not deal with ambiguities. It sanctions direct and provable statements of error. . . . I really don't have to prove anything. George is the one who has to prove something, since he is the one charging the CCC with heresy. . . . Heresy is a deliberate, calculated and unequivocal statement to circumvent established dogma. . . . I simply would not use the word "heresy" at all, . . . "Proximate to heresy" is a juridical term, and when you get into canonical jurisprudence, then you're required to give substantial evidence for the accusation and conviction. If you can't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, you don't have a case. ~ R. Sungenis

Below are the criteria Sungenis established when defending "prelates of the Church" from accusations of heresy (Q and A #42):

When we are dealing with prelates of the Church, the best place to go to define heresy is canon law, and the previous decisions made by the Church upon its formal heretics. As such, the Church has always weighed all the evidence before it makes a judgment on whether something is heretical, or whether a person is a heretic. In canonical terminology, "heresy" requires two things: (1) that the doctrine being denied has been defined by the Church at the highest levels of her authority (e.g., de fide, de fide Catholica, de fide devina et Catholica, or de fide ecclesiastica definita, or de fide divina). (2) The person would have to recognize the teaching at this level, and would have to give a specific denial of it for it to be canonically called "heresy" and for him to be classed as a "heretic." Even then, the Church gives room for the suspected heretic to recant or modify his views when probed by the Church, which is also a canonical process. If he persists, then he is treated accordingly.

In addition, when the person who is being accused is the pope, even much more caution has to be added to the procedure. If someone doesn't like something that the pope said, he can raise his objections in the spirit of humility and he has a right to be heard. But he does not have the right to call the pope's statement a "heresy," since that is a term reserved to canonical courts who alone have the right and authority to judge the issue.

Moreover, in my own personal experience, at least in half the cases I've seen concerning complaints about either Ratzinger or Pope Benedict XVI, it is the accuser whose theology is a bit askew or extreme, and it is the accuser in many of the other cases who is much too quick to set himself up as the judge and jury, and with little room for giving his victim the benefit of the doubt. ~ R. Sungenis

These are reasonable and charitable standards, but to date, Bob has steadfastly refused to apply them to his own bishop:

  1. Where has the Church ever defined, or even used, the terms "supersessionism" or "antisupersessionsm" at all - let alone "at the highest levels of her authority"? Nowhere. Then how could Bishop Rhoades or Fr. King "recognize the teaching"?
  2. Where has Bishop Rhoades ever given a "specific denial of it"? Nowhere.
  3. Did Sungenis raise his objections "in the spirit of humility"? No. By his own account, he accused Bishop Rhoades of holding to heresy and threatened to try to "expose" him to the Vatican.
  4. Did Sungenis have the right to call Fr. King's statement a heresy? No. By his own standards, that is reserved to canonical courts "who alone have the right and authority to judge the issue."
  5. Has Sungenis been "much too quick to set himself up as the judge and jury, and with little room for giving his victim the benefit of the doubt"? Yes.
  6. Sungenis has never even spoken to the bishop about his views on the Old Covenant. The evidence for his accusations is entirely speculative, requiring one to draw negative inferences from circumstantial evidence that are unwarranted and unjustified. Therefore, by his own stated standards (noted above), his accusations are groundless and they should never have been made.

Bob's false accusations that Bishop Rhoades adheres to the dual covenant error have rested on two pieces of "evidence":

  1. Perfectly orthodox answers His Excellency provided to a series of questions posed by Michael Forrest that Bob personally found to be suspicious or evasive. Bob completely ignored the fact that the bishop unequivocally and explicitly affirmed the Church’s missionary mandate to the Jewish people – something that is flatly rejected by adherents to the dual covenant theory. He also completely ignored the language that Bishop Rhoades employed from Dominus Iesus that affirms there is one economy of salvation – not two – and that economy of salvation is through Jesus Christ by means of His Church (here). Again, Bob also seems unaware that Bishop Rhoades fully supported and voted for the change to the problematic sentence on page 131 of the USCCA – although we reported this over a years ago (here).
  2. Alleged statements made by Fr. King, the Vicar General – not Bishop Rhoades – that were negative in regard to “supersessionism.” Previously at this blog (here) and also in All in the Family (here), we pointed out that the term “supersessionism” is not even of Catholic origin. While used by some Catholics, it appears in no Catholic magisterial texts and has no precise, Catholic definition. Not unlike the term “proselytism,” it can and does carry very different connotations, implications and nuances (here). As such, it is completely inappropriate for Bob or anyone to utilize this word as a sort of absolute litmus test for orthodoxy (for an important discussion of Bob's misuse of the term "supersessionism," click here and here).
As we also stated in a previous piece at this blog, if Fr. King understands the term “supersessionism” in one of the “extreme” or “crude” senses (as Avery Cardinal Dulles phrased it and as Bob himself uses it: see here), then he has a perfectly legitimate reason for not accepting it. It is therefore unjustifiable to level a public charge of heresy against Fr. King based on his alleged rejection this informal and ill-defined term – let alone to publicly charge Bishop Rhoades with heresy because his vicar general rejects the word.

Additionally, we have documented that Bob has been more than satisfied with – and has even highly praised – far less explicit statements made by John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, the USCCB, Cardinal Kasper and Leon Suprenant as proof that these men had rejected the dual covenant error (here). Yet, he has adopted a drastically different standard with his own bishop. Bob has even gone to the absurd extreme of requiring Bishop Rhoades to sign off on three statements that he personally composed in order to be acquitted of his trumped up charges (here and here).

Be that as it may, Bishop Rhoades’ letter (above) proves conclusively that there is no legitimate basis on which to even question His Excellency’s beliefs and teachings in regard to the dual covenant error at all, let alone to publicly charge him with having a "war...with Catholic doctrine" and “attempting to propagate” heresy to “unsuspecting Catholics” because he has greater “allegiances” to Jewish causes than to the Catholic faith (as Bob has done). Bob's accusations against Bishop Rhoades have essentially been a two-pronged effort to get the focus off of his own atrocious behavior and errors and to convince people that he's actually a hero crusading for doctrinal purity against nefarious pro-Jewish forces (click here for more on that).

We hope that Bob doesn't choose to change the field of play again by altering his original accusations and finding new reasons to level public accusations against Bishop Rhoades. However, based on his previous articles about the Jewish people and God, we anticipate that he may object to the assertion that the Jewish people retain a special (although non-salvific) relationship with God. But we invite Bob and his supporters to review the following evidence we previously provided that his own theology already implicitly acknowledges that the Jewish people retain a special relationship with God:

Regardless, even if Bob rejects the evidence that the Jewish people still retain a special relationship with God (something even the Holy Father believes), this disagreement is of a completely different essence and magnitude than whether or not the Jewish people need Christ and the Church like everyone else in the world.

Contrary to Bob's story, Bishop Rhoades did not direct him to cease writing about Jews and Judaism because of Bob’s opposition to the dual covenant error (click here). Rather, His Excellency directed him to cease writing about Jews and Judaism for the reasons that he plainly stated – Bob's writings and postings on Jewish issues have been and too often continue to be “hostile, uncharitable and unchristian,” including even those that are largely theological in nature (for more on that, click here, here, here and here).

We continue to sincerely hope and pray that Bob moves toward mending his relationship with Bishop Rhoades by retracting and apologizing for his false and slanderous accusations and by following His Excellency’s sound and reasonable direction in regard to Jewish issues.

Note: We recommend reading A Defense of Bishop Rhoades from More False Accusations by Robert Sungenis (click here), which illustrates that Bob has repeatedly changed his story and contradicted himself in regard to his accusations against Bishop Rhoades.