Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sungenis and Co. Evasive on Simple Questions about Catholic Apologetics Study Bible (CASB) and Canon Law

Robert Sungenis's CAI associates Mark Wyatt and Laurence Gonzaga have been out promoting Sungenis' new Catholic Apologetics Study Bible: here.

However, important questions have arisen about both his first volume on the Gospel of Matthew and his second volume on the Apocalypse.

An RSATJ reader has recently pointed out that Robert Sungenis' Catholic Apologetics Study Bible (CASB) has neither an imprimatur nor a nihil obstat, although Sungenis has actively sought and received both approbations in the past (Not By Scripture Alone, Not By Faith Alone and How Can I Get to Heaven). While it is not strictly necessary for a Catholic to have either an imprimatur or nihil obstat in order to publish an apologetics book (although it is recommended by canon law), Sungenis has clearly exhibited a desire to receive such important Catholic approbations in the past. In fact, in the case of Not By Bread Alone, when Sungenis did not receive the imprimatur, he made sure to give a thorough explanation of the extenuating circumstances surrounding his inability to procure it (although it is perhaps odd that no mention has been made by either Sungenis or his associates about attempts to procure the missing imprimatur for Not By Bread Alone now that the purportedly extenuating circumstance no longer exists).

However, perhaps even more importantly, it has been pointed out that Sungenis, in addition to publishing apologetics material, has also taken it upon himself - in this case of CASB 1, The Gospel According to St. Matthew- to create and publish his own translation of the Sacred Scriptures, apparently without the requisite approval of the Catholic Church. Unlike the publication of apologetics material without an imprimatur, this is a more serious matter. The Church is extremely protective of the Sacred Scriptures.

Canon law clearly states:

"Books of the sacred scriptures cannot be published unless the Apostolic See or the conference of bishops has approved them. For the publication of their translations into the vernacular, it is also required that they be approved by the same authority and provided with necessary and sufficient annotations." Canon 825 §1.


Sungenis went on at considerable length about the depth of the research involved in his new translation, touting the level of the scholarship involved in completing it (pages i-iii, Volume 1, Matthew). While "the CASB has remained as close as possible to the Vulgate and Douay-Rheims translations," Bob insists he "has also made many necessary improvements." The reader is assured that "great care has been taken in producing the CASB translation," and "scholar and layman" alike "can trust that what is presented in the CASB is a faithful representation of what appears in the original languages." Bob maintains that he has even gone beyond the Vulgate where necessary: "The CASB endeavors to bring out even more accurately the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew text underlying the Latin Vulgate."

Sungenis and his associates now claim that he was told by the USCCB that he is free to publish his translation of the Gospel of Matthew, even though he has not received canonical approval, because his translation of the Scriptures is a "translation of a translation" and that such translations technically cannot be approved under this canon law.

This certainly sounds odd. Because Sungenis' translation isn't a completely new translation, the bishops have essentially given Sungenis a free pass of sorts to print it? Also odd is that, unlike the case of Not By Bread Alone, Sungenis failed to detail this extenuating circumstance and the concomitant "free pass" of sorts purportedly given by the USCCB in the introduction CASB 1 (Matthew) itself.

Sungenis associate Laurence Gonzaga has claimed that Sungenis told him he switched to an approved translation of Scripture (the RSV) precisely in order to facilitate the reception the coveted imprimatur for CASB 2 on the Apocalypse. Sungenis associates Mark Wyatt and Laurence Gonzaga have claimed that it's no "big deal" to get an imprimatur and that even "garbage" books can get one. Yet, oddly, there is still no imprimatur anywhere to be found in the pages of CASB 2, even though Bob has had 4 or 5 years to obtain one, after being made aware of the problem with his translation on CASB 1.

Sungenis himself has written an article as a supposed answer to these significant issues. Unfortunately, he failed to answer the basic questions and only raised the level of doubt by playing what appears to be evasive word games.

There are four simple questions Sungenis should answer for the sake of his patrons and everyone who plunks down the large sum of money required to buy his CASB:

1) Did the USCCB explicitly give Bob Sungenis permission to publish CASB 1, or did they only refuse his request for an imprimatur based on a technicality, and Bob inferred the rest?

2) Where is this supposed letter from the USCCB granting Bob permission to publish his new translation because of this technicality? If it were so completely favorable to Bob's case as his associates claim, wouldn't he have published it long before now?

3) When, exactly, did Bob apply for the imprimatur on CASB 2, using the RSV translation?

4) Is Bob asking us to believe that he has never received any kind of refusal, or any other kind of indication one way or the other from his bishop concerning the imprimatur on CASB 2?

While we're at it, what of Galileo Was Wrong? Why does Bob not have the imprimatur for that book either? Was it submitted to his bishop for approval? Was he refused? If not, then what exactly did Bob's bishop indicate?

How about some straight and non-evasive answers, for a change?

Sungenis Dishonesty and Hypocrisy Over Racist National Vanguard Continues

Recently, Robert Sungenis of Catholic Apologetics International wrote:

R. Sungenis: I have stated repeatedly that I did not know the philosophy of National Vanguard up until Ben Douglass did the research and verified it for CAI when he worked here. When Mr. Douglass alerted me to National Vanguard's white supremacism, I told our webmaster to take off their material from our website, and it was only one or two items, if I remember correctly. That is all there is to it. But leave it to the gossip-mongering racists to make it sound as if I endorse National Vanguard!
(Adventures in Blogland, p. 9)


See here for information on The National Vanguard:

So, is Sungenis telling the truth? Is that really "all there is to it" as Sungenis claims? Or is he continuing to be dishonest and hypocritical? Follow the date-line and facts, below:


March 16: Ben Douglass writes to Bob Sungenis and warns him about the National Vanguard (NV), saying they are racists and that CAI should shouldn't touch them "with a 10 foot pole."

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 14:47:23 -0500

Robert and Jason,

One adjective ruins the latest feature article at CAI:

"The millions of honest White people who are members of such churches will be questioning the motivation, honesty and even genuine Christianity of
their leadership."

I really think we need to avoid posting the works of Anglo-Saxon
Israel supporters, White Nationalists, and the like. For
example, this National Vangaurd group praises
anti-miscegenation laws "to protect our precious [white]
blood, protect our national character, protect our unique
combination of beauty, intelligence, and creativity, and
protect our childrens future." We should be wary of touching
these kinds of groups with a ten foot pole. Besides
following the references they dig up for us, I don't think
we should use them at all, whether by posting their works
in their entirety or by directly quoting them.

JMJ,
Ben


April 10: The Latin Mass author, Matthew Anger, publishes an article exposing the racist nature of NV and Sungenis' use of NV.

April 12: Robert Sungenis writes to Matthew Anger and an email list of several other individuals, claiming that he doesn't know anything about National Vanguard. He then writes that he "could care less" as to whether they have a racist ideology or not, regardless. He threatens that he is going to post a response to Anger at CAI and additionally threatens to expose Anger's attempt to cover over the sins and errors of the Jews in his next article on Judaizers in the Church to the email group. Finally, Sungenis defends his use of the racist National Vangaurd with the same kind of diversionary tactics he has tried against nearly everyone else who has called him on his anti-Semitism:

From: SUNGENIS
To: MATTHEW ANGER
CC: BEN DOUGLASS (other names deleted)
Subject: My Reply to Mr. Anger -- R. Sungenis
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 23:10:01 EDT

"Mr. Anger judges who they [sources] are based whether they critique or don't critique bad Jewish people. It's like a vicious circle. Never mind that Jerry Falwell actually says that Jews don't need to convert. Never mind that Abe Foxman says the New Testament is anti-semitic. That's not important to Mr. Anger. What is important is that he give Jewish people a free pass and make them immune to criticism. Some Catholic faith Mr. Anger has. I suppose he now believes Jews don't have to convert, and that the New Testament is anti-semitic."


Aside from the fact that Falwell did not say that Jews don't need to convert and that Abe Foxman is not the issue, the fact is that Sungenis had no idea what Anger thought about Jews and their conversion when he wrote this. This was nothing more than typical Sungenis bravado and diversion designed to distract people from what he had done in using a blatantly racist source.

April 13: Ben Douglass chastises Robert Sungenis again, this time for saying that he doesn't know anything about National Vanguard. Douglass reminds Sungenis about his March 16th email (above). This is sent to the entire email list, shaming Bob for his untrue statement to the group:

"From: "BEN DOUGLASS"
To: "ROBERT SUNGENIS"
(Other recipients deleted)
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 11:19:40 -0400 (EDT)

Robert,

I have to criticise this statement:

'I don't know anything about National Vanguard, and I could care less.'

Remember, I sent you an e-mail about them after you posted
the Falwell Article from their site at CAI. They advocate
anti-miscegenation laws to protect Our precious white blood
and our unique combination of beauty, creativity, and
intelligence."


April 17: Robert Sungenis finally agrees to remove the National Vanguard articles. But also note a very important admission from Sungenis, pointing to a continuing problem at "Cut and Paste" CAI:


From: ROBERT SUNGENIS
To: BEN DOUGLASS; MATTHEW ANGER
Subject: Re: your goodbye message
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 13:17:35 EDT


"I've already alerted Ben to the fact that no more article [sic] from National Vanguard will be run on our site, now that I know who they are. I have a bad habit of not checking the sources...which will not be the case in the future."


Also note the following at Robert Sungenis and the Jews:

"2) [Sungenis] has repeated verbatim or sometimes merely reformulated slightly writings he has obtained from others on Jewish issues. He has sometimes represented these as his own, without acknowledgment or attribution and has even defended these practices.

3) [Sungenis] continues to evidence a propensity to uncritically seek out and accept unsavory, dubious and/or negatively biased information in regard to Jews and has drawn others with similar proclivities to his website."


April 18: Articles removed

In Robert Sungenis and the Jews, we learn that it was approximately two weeks after Sungenis was notified before he removed the articles from the racist National Vanguard (an organization that has been shut down by the Commonwealth of Virginia). RSATJ was overly conservative. The record proves that it was actually over a month before Sungenis removed the articles and only after being chastised by his own V.P., an article published by a well-known Traditionalist author exposing what Sungenis had done, and another chastisement and shaming by his own V.P. in front of an email list.


It may also help to once again recall Sungenis' own stern (and hypocritical) warning to Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong:

Sungenis: “If you have no political affiliation with these neo-cons, then I suggest you put a disclaimer on your site, otherwise people are going to get the wrong impression, and you can't blame them if they do. Any person with common sense who sees their names on your web site would assume that you support the political views of the aforementioned unless you say otherwise.”
(Sungenis, Q&A, January, 2005, Question 3).


Indeed. And when someone repeatedly uses the kinds of sources Sungenis does, "people are going to get the wrong impression, and you can't blame them if they do."

As radio personality Paul Harvey is best known for saying: "that's the rest of the story."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More Sungenis Dishonesty and Plagiarism with Ben Douglass?

The following was sent in by Ben Douglass with his permission to reproduce it here at this blog:

[The following is] another instance of Sungenis being very dishonest with me, back when I was still VP of CAI. On September 21, 2006, he sent me a draft of "Michael Forrest and the Jews", asking me for suggestions for improvement. Two of my biggest problems with the article were his matter-of-fact, yet completely unsubstantiated, claims that (a) Talmudic Judaism regards Gentiles as sub-human and (b) the Talmud lessens the penalty for rape of young boys and girls as opposed to rape of adults. My objections, and his responses, are below.

(Douglass) 2) Back off from these charges against the Talmud, unless you can back them up with specific citations from the text itself and respected Jewish commentaries. Even then, you should be somewhat equivocal. Say that such and such a passage is in the Talmud, and even though it might be saying something else, it sounds like it's saying this. And in any case these passages have been used by modern Jews to justify sexual misconduct. In the article "On the Rabbi's Knee" by Robert Kolker, from May 22 issue of New York Magazine, we are informed that a revered orthodox rabbi named Pinchus Scheinberg told concerned Jewish parents that as a matter of Jewish law, their rabbi's fondling their children did not count as sexual abuse.

Sungenis: Understood. Acutally, my main objection against the Talmud is that it denies Jesus as the Son of God, and says he is a false prophet under God's judgment. I don't think there is much to argue about that.

(Douglass) 3) I think you can find many orthodox Jews who will deny that Gentiles are animals or less than animals. If you are going to stick by this charge against Orthodox Judaism, you should explicitly quote an Orthodox Jew saying this.

Sungenis: I'll try.


The following is from the version of the article which he then published at CAI, and which is still posted there:

Forrest: Jews who follow Judaism loathe non-Jews and consider them less than animals.

Sungenis: I hope it’s not true, but unfortunately, I haven’t found too many Orthodox Jews (who believe and follow what is stated in the Talmud), to deny that Gentiles do not have the same rights as Jews, and in some cases, have the same rights as animals. If a Jew wants to repudiate the Talmud and admit that the Talmud does not have the whole truth, then I will be willing to accept his statement that “non-Jews are less than animals.”

Forrest: Judaism teaches that it’s okay to rape young boys.

Sungenis: Another half truth. I said that there are statements in the Talmud (not Judaism, per se) that lessen the crime of sodomy and pedophilia against young boys as opposed to the crime against an adult. The Talmud does the same for the raping of young girls as opposed to the raping of mature women. That being the case, it is incumbent on Michael Forrest to admit and condemn this breach of justice taught by the Talmud instead of trying to make me look bad while making Judaism and the Talmud look good. In fact, passages have been used by modern Jews to justify sexual misconduct. In the article “On the Rabbi's Knee” by Robert Kolker, from May 22 issue of New York Magazine, we are informed that a revered orthodox rabbi, named Pinchus Scheinberg, told concerned Jewish parents that, as a matter of Jewish law, a rabbi's fondling their children did not count as sexual abuse.


As you can see, he did not make the changes which he indicated to me that he would make. The only thing he changed was that he plagiarized my statement about Pinchus Scheinberg. So, I sent him the following e-mail:

Robert,

Your response to me indicated that you would back off from your statements about the Talmud teaching that non-Jews had the same rights as animals, and that not too many Orthodox Jews would deny this, and that the Talmud lessens the crime of sodomy and pederasty against the young. But you haven't qualified them. Orthodox Jews do quite often deny teaching that Gentiles have the rights of animals. And you replied "understood" to my advice that you should be equivocal about the pedophilia charge, and instead of saying "the Talmud lessens..." say that such and such a passage is in the Talmud, and even though it might be saying something else, it sounds like it's saying this, and some Jews have used it like this. But instead, you are as unequivocal as ever and simply included my reference as backup. You haven't made the changes that I thought you were going to make based on what you just told me. As it stands, this piece is going to make the scandal continue.

JMJ,
Ben

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sungenis' Scriptural Exegesis of Passages Predicting the Antichrist Will Be Jewish

Once again, here is a small sampling of the positively confident statements Robert Sungenis of Catholic Apologetics International has made in expectation of the Antichrist being of Jewish ancestry (specifically from the tribe of Dan):

Sungenis: “…Antichrist, who, according to the Fathers, is supposed to have his ancestry in the tribe of Dan.” (here)

Sungenis: “In fact,…Catholic tradition… has unofficially declared that the future Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction." (here)


The following are four examples of the exhaustive, expert Scriptural exegesis Robert Sungenis has completed in order to support statements like those above:

1)

2)

3)

4)


(No need to adjust your monitor, all four are indeed blank.)


The following is from Robert Sungenis and the Jews:

"It is particularly noteworthy that the Scriptural evidence for this belief [Jewish identity of the Antichrist] seems far less direct, substantial and convincing than the Scriptural evidence for an unusual conversion of the Jews. To my knowledge, Bob has put forth no Scriptural exegesis of these passages at all, which is very strange in light of the amount of time he has spent formulating his technical grammatical interpretation of Romans 11:25-26 alone in order to dismiss the idea of a future unusual conversion of the Jewish people. It seems even more striking in light of the fact that Scriptural exegesis is supposed to be one of his areas of greatest expertise.

The Scriptural evidence for the Antichrist emerging from the tribe of Dan is apparently based upon three verses, primarily: 1) Jeremiah 8:16, which certainly seems a bit creative (and which one would expect Bob to summarily discount in light of the rigorous demands he has placed on passages used to support an unusual conversion of the Jews), 2) Revelation 7:57, which merely omits the tribe of Dan from the list the 144,000 Israelites marked with the seal of the servants of God and 3) Genesis 49:16-17 which says that Dan will be like a snake in the way that bites the horse's heels that his rider may fall. Again, for Bob to be consistent, he could not credibly claim that these Scriptural passages predict that the Antichrist will be a Jew from the tribe of Dan."


In light of Sungenis' almost Herculean efforts over the past several years to discount the broad and deep Catholic witness for an unusual conversion of the Jewish people to Christ in the last days (centered almost exclusively around his own personal exegesis of Romans 11), why were Catholics not treated to an even more vigorous Sungenis dismissal of the relatively thin Catholic witness for the belief that the Antichrist will be a Jew from the tribe of Dan? After all, the Scriptural evidence for this belief is rather flimsy, at least compared to the scriptural citations and interpretations in support of the "Conversion of the Jews" (see here) and these Scriptural passages are central to what historical Catholic support there is (Patristic and otherwise).

Why has Sungenis not exerted similarly sustained exegetical efforts to save Catholics from believing the evidence that the Antichrist will be a Jew? Indeed, why was his reaction in this case the polar opposite: a ready embrace of this idea as taught by "the Fathers" and that it was "unofficially declared" by "Catholic tradition" without so much as a cursory exegesis of the Scriptural evidence?

Certainly this is an odd development for a man whose expertise is purportedly Scriptural exegesis.

(Note: Again, the intention of this post is not to completely undermine belief in the possibility that the Antichrist will be a Jew. The point is to underline the clear inconsistencies exhibited by Robert Sungenis. If something is positive about Jews, Sungenis tends to spare no effort to contradict and undermine it. If something is negative about Jews, Sungenis tends to readily accept and further propagate it.)