Sunday, August 3, 2014

Current Status

This blog was originally created in response to Robert Sungenis’s problematic views and history related to the Jewish people.  In 2006 during negotiations with Sungenis we expressed our willingness to take down this material if he would remove all such material and provide assurance that there would be no return to it.

Unfortunately, those negotiations were unsuccessful.  Recently Sungenis contacted one of our contributors and indicated that he was removing the material to which this blog responds and that there would be no return to it.  As this essentially meets the objective we sought in 2006, we were willing to take down the material originally hosted here.

This is not intended to imply that Sungenis has retracted and/or apologized for the statements on Jewish issues that were formerly documented here.  He has not done so.  Instead, he has recently stated, both publicly and privately, that he believes God has given him a new vision/direction related to the issue of geocentrism.  As a result of his desire to pursue this new vision/direction, Sungenis writes,  “I’ve publically declared that I am no longer addressing [Jewish] issues and don’t wish to discuss them with anyone” and “I . . . will never discuss them again.”  However, he has said that he still personally holds to the same beliefs and considers them to be true.

At present Sungenis and some of his close associates have once again brought public accusations against his diocese and former ordinary. As such, some articles documenting the falsehood of those charges has again been made available to the public. 

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 (Michael Forrest and David Palm, specifically) 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.

Michael Forrest, David Palm and Jacob Michael

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.