Saturday, March 29, 2008

By Sungenis Alone

If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a heathen or a tax collector. ~ Matthew 18:17 ~


***************************************

It is crystal clear that while Sungenis’ initial rationale for his public disobedience of Bishop Rhoades was already illegitimate, it has become completely untenable now that even he grudgingly acknowledges that he does not know what Bishop Rhoades believes about supersessionism/dual covenant. And as we shall see, even this limited admission is disingenuous. His rationale has thus essentially degenerated to (paraphrasing):

Although I was completely satisfied – even thrilled - with far less explicit statements made by John Paul II, Benedict XVI, the USCCB, Cardinal Kasper and Leon Suprenant about the dual covenant error, I still vehemently suspect my bishop of holding to it. And although the bishop never said anything like it, I’m so sure that’s the real reason he’s ordering me to stop writing about Jews that I am fully justified in publicly accusing him of holding to that error, of trying to propagate it to unsuspecting Catholics, of having a greater allegiance to Jewish causes than the Catholic faith and in publicly defying his direct orders. And while I know I missed the target with my first public salvos against him, I’ll pretend I didn’t. I’m going to adjust my sights and come around for a second whack at him and see if I can hit the target this time. And while I’m at it, why can’t everyone just appreciate what a tremendous gift I am to the Church? You’re really upsetting me and harming my good name.

***************************************

Sungenis’ new charge is essentially that perhaps Bishop Rhoades is simply being evasive and wily. Perhaps Bishop Rhoades believes that somehow the Jewish people can be saved through the Old Covenant not apart from Christ. He writes: “if the interviewer really desired to get to the truth of what Bishop Rhoades believes about the Old Covenant, he should have asked the bishop if he believed the Old Covenant could save the Jews if the Old Covenant is ‘not apart from Christ.’”(MRBR, p. 6) There are several reasons why this new charge only proves that Sungenis is operating in extremely bad faith, but perhaps the most obvious are to be found directly within the letter that Sungenis proclaims “proves nothing”: Why would Bishop Rhoades state so clearly that he supports the evangelization of the Jewish people if he believes they are saved by means of the Old Covenant, even if with Christ? And why would His Excellency write, “It is not correct to speak of two independent covenants in effect today, one for Jews and one for Gentiles, since Jesus is the only Savior who continues His saving work in the Church and by means of the Church, His Body. There is only one salvific economy.”? Clearly, only bad faith can explain Sungenis’ characterization of this statement as evasive, unclear, and concealing a hidden heterodoxy.

***************************************

Sungenis’ complaint is akin to a thief, who after robbing a store repeatedly, threatens to file a lawsuit against the store owner for assault because he believes the store owner was too rough in removing him from the premises.

***************************************



Table of Contents:

Note: While the reader is advised to review all of the evidence in order, if one would like to skip directly to any particular section, simply click on the desired title below.

1) The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
A discussion of the nature of Sungenis’ current difficulties

2) Of Popes, Bishops and Laymen
A history of Sungenis’ misuse of the faith, followed by a positive change upon his conversion to the Catholicism

3) Returning to Old Habits
A list of examples illustrating Sungenis’ reversion to misusing the faith

4) The Pope’s Pope?
An examination the problematic views Sungenis has expressed regarding obedience to the Pope and to bishops

5) Primary Allegiances to Sungenis?
A brief discussion of Sungenis’ supporters

6) Sungenis the Aggressor
A history and examination of Sungenis’ unjust aggression against Bishop Rhoades

7) Sorting Through the Facts
A brief review of the facts involving Sungenis and Bishop Rhoades over the past 8 months

8) The Basis for Bishop Rhoades’ Cease and Desist Order
The facts vs. Sungenis’ characterization

9) Where Matters Stand Now

10) An Appeal for Prayer

11) Detailed Supporting Evidence
An extended examination of Sungenis’ dishonesty and other improprieties in light of his latest response to Bishop Rhoades



The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same:

That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

The Hebrew people have long understood that time is a helix. Variations on a few basic themes of triumph and tragedy repeat throughout history with a new cast of characters. Robert Sungenis’ story is no different. At least at this juncture, his story is essentially a scaled-down recapitulation of the primal tragedy that began with Lucifer, who in turn passed it on to Adam and Eve and more recently, Martin Luther.

While Luther’s tragedy was triggered by his own confrontation with despair, Sungenis’ tragedy was triggered by his own confrontation with our elder brothers, the Jews. Like Luther, Sungenis has been right about some things, but he has fallen into a host of public sins including rashness, dishonesty, calumny - and now even open rebellion against his father in the faith - all of which have destroyed whatever good he might have done in this area. And also like Luther, Sungenis has struggled with two irreconcilable impulses: the impulse to trust and elevate himself above all others - including God’s anointed authority on earth - and the impulse to be recognized by God and his brothers as a humble, obedient son.

Ultimately, like Luther, Sungenis has effectively chosen himself over faithfulness and obedience while employing rationalizations that give the illusion of faithfulness, obedience and even heroism. Both men achieved this illusion by personally deposing God’s anointed authority under the pretext of being obedient to an even higher authority. For Luther, it was Scripture (Sola Scriptura). Sungenis has added magisterial texts and the writings of the Fathers of the Church (and most unfortunately, the writings of some very unsavory characters). Yet, in the end, it is still Sungenis alone who will determine the meaning of each text. And woe to you should you disagree with him - or if he even thinks you disagree with him, as Bishop Rhoades has most recently discovered. Dr. Art Sippo, a long-time friend of Sungenis, has referred to this odd phenomenon as “Sungenis contra mundum.”

However, aside from scale, perhaps the most important distinction between Luther and Sungenis is that Sungenis’ story has yet to be completed. There is still time and hope for a different ending.

Of Popes, Bishops and Laymen:

There are some who know how to live in peace and also enjoy peace with others. And there are others who do not have peace themselves, nor suffer others to enjoy peace. ~ Thomas a Kempis: The Imitation of Christ

For those who have any familiarity with Sungenis’ controversialism, his energetic advocacy of geocentrism is well known. And a few people have noticed something curious about that word: “geocentrism.” When it’s typed into a word processor, spell-check automatically identifies it as a misspelling and offers the correction: “egocentrism.” Not to be flippant, but at least in Sungenis’ case, this seems to be a significant insight. For the common thread running through all of Sungenis’ controversies is, quite literally, a marked “self-centeredness.”

From early on, Sungenis has often viewed the Christian faith as a means to elevate himself and denigrate others – now including popes and bishops – rather than simply something to which he must humbly conform himself. In fact, Sungenis himself has candidly acknowledged his struggles with this pugnacious, self-elevating tendency during his Protestant years in his chapter of the excellent and inspiring book, Surprised by Truth (hereafter, SBT):

I was known – to my great satisfaction – as ‘Bible Bob.’ (p. 104)

My habit of pointing out these anomalies [of biblical interpretation] in a rather pugnacious way created strain between me and the faculty, which forced me to leave the institution after only one year. (p. 110)

My self-guided study of the Bible – a study which lasted several hours a day, most days of the week, for the next seven years – helped me become something of a scriptural know-it-all. This didn’t make my search for the truth any easier. In my smugness, every time I ran into a doctrine I didn’t think was ‘biblical,’ I moved on to the next denomination. (p. 109)

If I didn’t have a handy Bible verse to sling I could always fall back on the show-stopper question…I’d grin triumphantly as the Catholic would flail around... (p. 102)

I fancied myself…a David, courageously defying the towering Catholic Goliath. (p. 108)

Professor Shepherd and I had engaged in some heated discussions on this issue. I attacked his view [the necessity of good works] as ‘compromising the gospel’… I saw him as having sold out to the Romanists. (p. 112)

Presbyterians are known in Protestant circles as the ‘split P’s’ because of all the factions…When I joined the fray, things didn’t get any better. (p. 113)


But through the grace of God working in combination with Sungenis’ willingness to be humbled, he made his way back to the Catholic Church. And it was precisely in these more humble years following his "reversion" to the Catholic faith that he produced what most people believe to be his finest works: Not by Scripture Alone and Not by Faith Alone.

Returning to Old Habits:

Some people’s sins are public, preceding them to judgment; but other people are followed by their sins. ~ 1 Tim 5:24

However, eventually Sungenis began to fall back into the pugnacious, self-centered habits he had learned as a “Bible answer man,” to the point where even the truth seemed to be increasingly expendable. For example:

• His withering public attacks on Pope John Paul II, even when the Holy Father was on his death-bed. Also, indiscriminately propagating false charges in public and refusing to retract and apologize for them, even after becoming aware that they were false. (article 1, article 2, article 3, artcle 4 and article 5)

• Publicly accusing a priest of being homosexual without even first discussing it with him in private. And then, after being corrected by Michael Forrest about this impropriety, he responded: “And what bothers you about this? I had the guts to warn people that this man is [a homosexual]…as my lawyer assures me, it’s only slander to accuse someone if you know the accusation isn’t true…Your priorities are misplaced, to say the least.” (email of 3/22/05 - This defense is certainly ironic considering his later complaints and threats against Forrest and everyone involved in Robert Sungenis and the Jews. Article)


• His illegitimate doctorate, which he openly admitted was procured “to show the world, in a glance, that I have the same academic credentials as those who receive a Ph.D. in Religion from a United States accredited institution.” (My PhD, p. 26) (Article 1 and Article 2)

• His calumnious attacks on Jewish convert Roy Schoeman, indiscriminately propagating fraudulent quotes and charges and refusing to retract and apologize for them, even after he knew they were false. (Article 1, Article 2, Article 3 and Article 4)

• His calumnious attacks on Jewish convert David Moss, indiscriminately propagating false charges and refusing to retract and apologize for them, even after he knew they were false. (Article 1 and Article 2)

• His calumnious attacks on virtually everyone who has criticized his anti-Jewish excesses: indiscriminately propagating false charges and refusing to retract and apologize for them, even after he knew they were false. (Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4, Article 5, Article 6, Article 7, Article 8, etc.)

• His myriad calumnious attacks on the Jewish people and Judaism: indiscriminately propagating fraudulent charges and quotes and refusing to forthrightly retract and apologize for them, even after he knew they were false. (Article 1 and Article 2)

• His repeated plagiarism of Nazis, Holocaust deniers, White Supremacists and other extremists searching for material to “prove” he was correct: refusing to promptly and forthrightly condemn such bigoted sources when discovered and refusing to forthrightly retract and apologize. (Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4, Article 5 and Article 6)

• Publicly branding Pope John Paul II as a Modernist. (Question 31, Dec. 2004 and Article)

• His multiple public accusations that Pope John Paul II, then-Cardinal Ratzinger and the Vatican engaged in systematic cover-up regarding the third secret of Fatima, acting as judge and jury. (Article 1, Article 2 and Article 3)

• Guaranteeing his patrons that his apologetics study Bibles would have the Church’s imprimatur, before they had even been submitted to his bishop for review. (Article 1 and Article 2)

• Presuming to teach under the authority of the “Catholic” banner without obtaining the permission required by canon law. (Canon 300)

• His erroneous characterizations of the teaching of the Church Fathers on several issues, going so far as to include some of them in his Catholic Apologetics Study Bible even after being provided with irrefutable evidence by his own acting vice-president (Ben Douglass) that they were false. (Article)

• His use of illegitimate and morally unacceptable means in advocating geocentrism: going so far as to attack the personal lives of respected scientists simply in order to discredit their professional work, even hypocritically accusing Einstein of being a plagiarist. ( Appendix 9 of Galileo Was Wrong and Article 1 and Article 2)

Unfortunately, such examples could be multiplied. The article Sungenis the Condemner or Torquemada on Steroids also gives numerous other examples that illustrate the grossly inflated and contentious manner in which Sungenis perceives his personal authority and position. However, one quote seems to crystallize the nature of the problem:

“We condemn, publically and directly, anyone who deviates from [the teachings of the Church], and I don’t care what would-be critic says about us. That is our call and it will remain so, and if it causes controversy, then so be it. God has given me the grace to handle it.” (Article)


The Pope’s Pope?

We would willingly have others perfect, and yet we do not amend our own faults. We would have others strictly corrected; but are not willing to be corrected ourselves. The large liberty that others take displeases us; and yet, we do not want to be denied anything. ~ Thomas a Kempis: The Imitation of Christ

For those who have followed these matters, Sungenis has been more than willing to convey the details of his concept of obedience. In fairness, it should be noted that Sungenis has been refraining from publicly condemning and accusing popes as of late (although not bishops). And he even eventually apologized for his excessive, harsh and often trumped-up charges against Pope John Paul II, after years of complaints and criticisms from others. (Question #26, Sept. 2006) However, in an echo of his maltreatment of the Jewish people, one will note that his apologies were only for his manner, with no acknowledgment of any inappropriate or false substance (like fraudulent charges or public allegations of heresy). Additionally, his stated reasons for this change in approach to the pope are eye-opening (below).

Whether to pope or to bishop, Sungenis is obedient as long as those in authority over him meet with his personal approval or are deemed to be of sufficient service to his personal priorities. But if they stray out of those boundaries, Sungenis effectively excommunicates them, thereby conveniently relieving himself of any further need to submit to their authority:

The reason I don’t publicly condemn Benedict XVI is because he hasn’t done anything even close to what John Paul II did.
(February 6, 2007, Article, p. 19)


Now that we have a new pope, and one that I see is a lot more sensible, I have a renewed faith in the pope.
(Question 19, Sept. 2006)


I have a job to do and that is to protect our Catholic Church from any charlatans or erroneous doctrine, whether it happens to be John Paul II, Scott Hahn or anyone else. (email of March 22, 2005)

The bishop allowed me to work out a compromise with him…We both win, because I, according to him, represent the Catholic Church with the name of Catholic in the title ‘Catholic Apologetics International.’…If I have read them wrong and their intention is to censor me wholesale, then I will demand a trial and I will bring it as far up the hierarchial [sic] ladder as possible in order to fight it. For now, there is no reason to fight it, because both parties are in a win-win situation. (Sungenis email of August 5th, 2007, forwarded by Sungenis supporter Edgar Suter to a wide audience).


Obviously, this is not obedience in any authentically Catholic sense of the word. And recently, we have witnessed Sungenis’ faultiest application to date. (Article) He has attempted to frame his disobedience in these terms:

. . . it was up to [Bishop Rhoades] to prove his case against me, since it now became a matter of faith and morals, for I am not required to obey the bishop if he is going against Catholic faith and morals. (email of Feb 20, 2008)


But this is simply another debater’s sleight of hand tactic that only further illustrates the difficulties Bishop Rhoades has faced in dealing with Sungenis. As documented here, Bishop Rhoades did not order Sungenis to do something at odds with Catholic faith and morals. The record is completely clear that he ordered Sungenis to be silent on Jewish issues because of Sungenis’ repeated rashness, hostility, inaccuracy and extreme lack of charity (most of which were even evident to a sufficient degree in Sungenis’ article of July 31st, 2007: CAITJ). The idea that Sungenis’ silence on Jewish issues would be a bad thing, let alone “against Catholic faith and morals,” is ridiculous.

Primary Allegiances to Sungenis?

And unfortunately, like Luther, Sungenis is not content to justify himself privately with such rationalizations. He seems to feel compelled to justify himself publicly and make converts to his new approach to the faith. While Luther’s errors spread to millions throughout Europe and the world, Sungenis’ errors have thankfully been limited to a small, if energetic, coalition of people with widely divergent agendas and loyalties.

While some within Sungenis’ small coalition were clearly drawn to Sungenis precisely because of his anti-Jewish bigotry (article), this is certainly not the case with all of them. Some follow out of personal loyalty because Sungenis helped them into the Catholic faith by his earlier fine work or perhaps because some of the other good things he continues to do even now – such as his defense of the Holy Father and the new Good Friday prayer. And some appear to be genuinely concerned about the dual covenant error because it fundamentally undercuts the Gospel.

It is worth pointing out, however, that in their concern over the dual covenant error, this last group of Sungenis supporters is in agreement with Catholics like Karl Keating, Roy Schoeman, Scott Hahn, the Association of Hebrew Catholics, CUF and everyone involved in Robert Sungenis and the Jews. However - unlike Sungenis - Keating, Schoeman, Hahn, CUF and the AHC understand the limits of their actual authority and therefore do not approach our bishops in a self-aggrandizing, hostile and contemptuous manner. They write respectfully - in both public and private - without feeling the need to make public condemnations and pronouncements. It should be noted that even Sungenis seems to apprehend the wisdom and prudence of this approach, such as his more respectful letter to Cardinal Levada in which he humbly acknowledges the possibility that he may be misunderstanding the one problematic sentence on page 131 of the USCCA (see page 3). (Unfortunately, this didn’t stop Sungenis from ridiculing Bishop Rhoades for doing much the same – see below). And, also unlike Sungenis - Keating, Hahn and Suprenant et al are not fixated on the Jewish people. They recognize that there are a multitude of serious issues that require their attention and the attention of our bishops at any given time.

Sungenis has made some good points about the dual covenant error. But as much as Sungenis supporters might try, it is simply impossible to divorce him from all of his ugly baggage, which now includes his slander of and public rebellion against Bishop Rhoades. These serious problems, combined with his continuing lack of humility, wisdom and discernment make it extremely imprudent to publicly enlist Sungenis’ aid in this legitimate cause. His presence only serves to discredit and undermine it.

This also seems to raise a fair question. Undoubtedly, Sungenis’ supporters were (rightly) upset when some bishops and priests reacted more like fraternity members than Catholic shepherds in response to cases of sexual abuse by the clergy. Too often, members of the hierarchy encircled and protected the abuser, covering over and excusing what he had done. Are Sungenis’ supporters not doing essentially the same thing? And if it be objected that Sungenis has apologized for what he has done, we would simply invite the reader to review the actual history - in fact, he has issued no apology worthy of any Catholic, especially after such a sustained stream of serious, public offenses over so many years: Saying Peace When There Is No Peace. Furthermore, he has not entirely abandoned these practices, even now, in spite of assurances to the contrary. (Article 1, Article 2 and Article 3 )


Sungenis the Aggressor:

The prating of some men is like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise is healing. ~ Prov 12:18

Sungenis’ behavior throughout this controversy, but particularly in this latest article (My Response to Bishop Rhoades), highlights the dangers inherent in being (or following) a professional apologist and debater without possessing a spiritual director and solidly developed virtues of humility, discernment, prudence and wisdom. It’s a morally dangerous profession that continually appeals to one’s pride.

Remarkably, Sungenis seems oblivious to the fact that he had no right to even make such plainly baseless and defamatory public accusations against Bishop Rhoades in this latest attempt at self-justification, let alone to effectively appoint himself judge and jury of His Excellency. One can only marvel at the level of audacity required for Sungenis to demand that Bishop Rhoades affirm three statements in order to prove himself innocent of Sungenis’ allegations.

And from whence did Sungenis’ three statements of orthodoxy originate? The Council of Nicea? Trent? Vatican I? Vatican II? Surely at least from one of the authoritative sources cited by Denzinger. No - the statements Sungenis demands from a bishop of the Catholic Church as proof of his orthodoxy emanated from his own mind.

And should the objection be raised that Michael Forrest composed his own questions for Bishop Rhoades, the simple reply is two-fold: First, there is a fundamental difference between a layman privately asking questions of a bishop in order to help him clarify a point and publicly accusing a bishop of holding to an error and then demanding that he sign off on three statements in order to exonerate himself (see Sungenis’ “Invitation” to “Discuss” Matters with Bishop Rhoades, below).

And second, the wider context is entirely different. Perhaps if Sungenis had not first: 1) Smeared Bishop Rhoades (July 4, 2007), 2) blatantly defied His Excellency’s orders (July 2007), 3) followed up with a letter in which he falsely accused His Excellency of holding to doctrinal error (Aug.-Sep. 2007), 4) indicated that he would be “quite happy to expose” that error to the Vatican (Aug.- Sep. 2007), 5) contemptuously expanded upon his calumnies (Jan. 2008), 6) refused to retract and apologize for his calumnies, opting instead to continue this charade by posing as Grand Inquisitor over His Excellency (Mar. 2008)…perhaps then, if he had stopped behaving far more like an upstart prosecuting attorney trying to make a name for himself than a son, he might well have resolved these problems. Of course, this list of offenses is based solely upon what is known from the public record. The public record is only that which Sungenis and his friend Thomas Herron have deigned to release so far. One can only imagine what information would surface if Bishop Rhoades and Fr. King opted to tell their side of the story in public. Still, even without their side of the story being told, the reasons why Bishop Rhoades stopped responding to Sungenis are plain enough.

And yet, instead of returning meekly and privately to his father in the faith in order to make amends for his multiple calumnies, Sungenis now has the audacity and self-centeredness to publicly appeal to the Catholic Code of Canon Law (CCCL) with the intention of defending his own “good name.” And, unsurprisingly, he has conveniently ignored the most pertinent sections of the CCCL. For example:

Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
(emphasis added, link)

After all that has transpired, Sungenis’ complaint is akin to a thief, who after robbing a store repeatedly, threatens to file a lawsuit against the store owner for assault because he believes the store owner was too rough in removing him from the premises.

Additionally, Sungenis has ignored the clear teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in regard to rash judgment, a teaching which certainly applies a fortiori to the treatment of our bishops:

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way. (CCC §2478)


It deserves repeating: Bishop Rhoades did not bring these disciplinary matters involving Sungenis out in public. Robert Sungenis and his friend Thomas Herron did (article). It was only after Sungenis had committed multiple calumnies against Bishop Rhoades over a period of a few months that His Excellency eventually defended himself from Sungenis' “slanderous and erroneous” allegations at someone else’s request. And what was Sungenis’ reaction? Did he stop to prayerfully reflect on the situation? If he did, it could not have been for long because, within just a few days, he began to work on his newest article (MRBR) in which he used His Excellency’s self-defense as an excuse to justify even further public demands of and unjust allegations against him.

The fact is, Bishop Rhoades more than sufficiently answered Sungenis’ already baseless accusations (article). (Additional, detailed evidence has also been provided below). And instead of retracting and apologizing for slandering His Excellency, Sungenis opted to engage in a debating tactic he commonly uses: creating various diversions and distractions in the hope than no one will notice that he has moved the goal-posts and changed the playing field at the very end of the game. We sincerely hope that Sungenis will not answer this last appeal by publishing yet another inappropriate attempt to excuse himself and shift blame to others. Instead, let us hope that he will forthrightly acknowledge what he has done and make proper amends.

Sorting Through the Facts:

A great deal has occurred over the last six years in regard to Sungenis’ numerous anti-Semitic statements, postings and sources and so it is possible that one who has not closely followed events may be slightly confused by this obfuscation. As such, a brief review of at least the past several months is presented below. However, the reader is strongly advised to read Timeline, and Is Sungenis Schismatic? in order to gain a fuller understanding of the extent of Sungenis’ dishonesty and offensive treatment of Bishop Rhoades.

(Henceforth, CAITJ is Sungenis’ article of July 31, 2007: Catholic Apologetics International and its Teaching on the Jews. OCRNR is Sungenis’ article of January, 2008: The Old Covenant, Revoked or Not Revoked? MRBR is Sungenis’ article of March, 2008: My Response to Bishop Rhoades)

Fact #1: Bishop Rhoades ordered Sungenis to cease and desist from writing on Jewish issues entirely as of August, 2007.

Fact #2: Sungenis has publicly defied his bishop.

Fact #3: Sungenis has attempted to justify his disobedience by:

1) Claiming that Bishop Rhoades holds to a heretical belief in regard to “supersessionism”/dual covenant,

2) Claiming that Bishop Rhoades ordered him to be silent on Jewish issues specifically because his position on supersessionism/dual covenant is opposed to His Excellency’s,

3) Claiming that Bishop Rhoades has greater allegiances to Jewish causes than the Catholic faith, and

4) Claiming that Bishop Rhoades is “attempting to propagate” his allegedly pro-Jewish doctrinal errors to “unsuspecting Catholics.”

Fact #4: Bishop Rhoades has on more than one occasion admonished Robert Sungenis for the hostile, uncharitable and un-Christian tone and content of his speech and writing in regard to Jewish issues.

Fact #5: Bishop Rhoades has never indicated to Sungenis that he objects to Sungenis’ views on supersessionism/dual covenant. To the contrary, His Excellency even wrote that he:

would allow [Sungenis] to continue publishing and speaking on those matters of Catholic doctrine which pertain to the Jewish covenant and the role of Israel in salvation history, provided that [Sungenis] take(s) an approach quite different in tone and content from the one pursued in the past. (OCRNR, p. 11, emphasis added)


Fact #6: Only after Sungenis had slandered Bishop Rhoades (early July, 2007), blatantly defied his orders (July, 2007) and published CAITJ (July 31, 2007), an article which extended over 6 pages and laid out 7 newly stated criticisms of the Jewish people, did Bishop Rhoades rescind the narrow exception he granted Sungenis in Fact #5 and order Sungenis to completely refrain from addressing all Jewish issues.

Fact #7: Although Sungenis’ article (CAITJ) covered six pages, was unnecessarily antagonistic at points, raised seven newly-stated criticisms of the Jewish people that contained more than one dubious and/or potentially problematic assertion (one of which even Sungenis now admits was incorrect) - all in the context of a supposed apology for his anti-Jewish offenses - Sungenis jumped to the baseless conclusion that Bishop Rhoades must have rescinded the narrow exception granted him in Fact #5 because His Excellency objected specifically to his position on supersessionism/dual covenant.

Fact #8: Sungenis’ allegation that Bishop Rhoades ordered him to be silent on all Jewish issues simply because of his views on the supersessionism/dual covenant issue is based solely upon guilt by association and a rash, baseless conclusion. And even this “evidence” has been re-presented inaccurately and dishonestly by Sungenis (see below, Fr. King’s Alleged “Statement” on Supersessionism).

Fact #9: Sungenis himself admitted that Bishop Rhoades wrote to him and told him that he was ordering Sungenis to stop writing about the Jewish people and Judaism altogether because Sungenis’ “opinions showed a lack of charity and respect for the Jewish people and for Judaism itself” (OCRNR, p.11) (Note the word “opinions”, plural, not a single opinion. Also note the phrase “lack of charity”.)

Fact #10: Bishop Rhoades has more than sufficiently refuted the baseless charges leveled by Sungenis in OCRNR and even in MRBR.

Fact #11: Although Sungenis has been more than satisfied by far less explicit statements from John Paul II, Benedict XVI, the USCCB and Leon Suprenant on this issue (see below), after reading Bishop Rhoades’ response to Forrest’s letter, Sungenis claimed that Bishop Rhoades’ letter “proves nothing.” (p. 3 MRBR) However, Sungenis at least now grudgingly admits that he does not know what his bishop believes in regard to the supersessionism/dual covenant issue. But he “suspects” bad things.

Fact #12: Regardless of these facts, Sungenis remains in open defiance of his bishop’s lawful orders and has neither retracted nor apologized for his calumny against His Excellency.


The Basis for Bishop Rhoades’ Cease and Desist Order:

The senseless man loves not to be reproved; to wise men he will not go. ~ Prov. 15:12

In light of these facts, it is crystal clear that while Sungenis’ initial rationale for his public disobedience of Bishop Rhoades was already illegitimate, it has become completely untenable now that even he grudgingly acknowledges that he does not know what Bishop Rhoades believes about supersessionism/dual covenant. And as we shall see, his rationale has thus essentially degenerated to (paraphrasing):

Although I was completely satisfied – even thrilled - with far less explicit statements made by John Paul II, Benedict XVI, the USCCB, Cardinal Kasper and Leon Suprenant about the dual covenant error, I still vehemently suspect my bishop of holding to it. And although the bishop never said anything like it, I’m so sure that’s the real reason he’s ordering me to stop writing about Jews that I am fully justified in publicly accusing him of holding to that error, of trying to propagate it to unsuspecting Catholics, of having a greater allegiance to Jewish causes than the Catholic faith and in publicly defying his direct orders. And while I know I missed the target with my first public salvos against him, I’ll pretend I didn’t. I’m going to adjust my sights and come around for a second whack at him and see if I can hit the target this time. And while I’m at it, why can’t everyone just appreciate what a tremendous gift I am to the Church? You’re really upsetting me and harming my reputation.

Sungenis would have everyone believe that the real reason he has been taken to task is his “strong stand” on the Old Covenant. This is false. As the record proves, Bishop Rhoades has never said a critical word about Sungenis’ views on the Old Covenant and even explicitly allowed him “to continue publishing and speaking on those matters of Catholic doctrine which pertain to the Jewish covenant and the role of Israel in salvation history” (OCRNR, p. 11). The actual problems are and have always been:

+ The extremely contentious, condemnatory, and antagonistic tone Sungenis is either unwilling or unable to contain when writing about anything Jewish.

+ The false, bigoted and offensive content Sungenis often employs in making his arguments on Jewish issues, including even those of a theological nature.

And of his anti-Jewish tone and content, even Sungenis himself once acknowledged:

It caused confusion regarding what is and is not the authentic position of the Catholic Church towards the Jewish people. (CAITJ, p 1)


For Sungenis, it is not enough to simply disagree with Jews or Judaism and to provide the evidence. He simply can’t restrain himself from simultaneously providing bigoted “evidence” that they are conspiring to “rule the world” and “the Catholic Church, too” (Question 47) or that they have "infected" the Church (article). And he continues to do such things even very recently, after promising yet again that he wouldn’t (Article 1, Article 2 and Article 3). Further, even when caught red-handed, he regularly resists retracting and apologizing for what he has done: (Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4, Article 5).

Sungenis has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to restrain himself from making hostile, uncharitable, and un-Christian statements about the Jewish people and Judaism for anything more than a short period of time (article 1, article 2, article 3, article 4, article 5, article 6, article 7). He has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to restrain himself from posting factually erroneous propaganda and calumnies too often gleaned from Holocaust deniers, white-supremacists, Nazis and other like-minded friends and patrons who supply him with such material (article 1, article 2 and article 3). He has even allowed his prejudice against Jews to taint his theological work (article 1 and article 2). And perhaps most disturbingly, he has repeatedly done all of these things while illegitimately appropriating the name “Catholic” in order to give an air of credibility to his prejudiced agenda (Canon 300). Of course, this does not even contemplate the fact that Sungenis has now gone so far as to commit multiple calumnies against his own father in the faith, Bishop Rhoades, in order to attempt to excuse his scandalous rebellion.

It is clear that Sungenis is attempting to change the field of play. And the reasons are not difficult to discern. He knows that whenever the actual reasons for Bishop Rhoades’ orders are in clear focus – Sungenis’ extreme rashness, erroneous accusations and serial prejudice against the Jewish people – he has lost. Thankfully, few Catholics have much sympathy for such hateful, paranoid views of the Jewish people. And so, the only real option – at least if one’s goal is simply “winning” – is to try to revise history, to change the rules and field of play.

And of course, one can find a great deal of sympathy on an issue like the dual covenant error. If one becomes convinced that this is the real reason Bishop Rhoades ordered him to remain silent on Jewish issues, Sungenis is transformed from a rash and disobedient son into a persecuted, righteous warrior fighting for orthodoxy. Instead of “mini-Luther” he’s David fighting Goliath. And that is the way that Sungenis wants to present himself.

The problem is that this modern version of the David and Goliath story is fiction. Perhaps even more significantly, Sungenis ignores the lesson of the Biblical David in his confrontation with King Saul, God’s anointed (cf. 1 Sam 26:8-12). Not only did David refuse to harm King Saul, who – in contrast to Bishop Rhoades – unjustly pursued David, but David even rebuked Abishai for considering such a notion. Below, the reader will also find additional stories from saints of the Church that stand in stark contrast to Sungenis’ example.

In his letter to Bishop Rhoades, Michael Forrest wrote:

Please rest assured that I do not intend to pursue a continuing series of questions and answers with you about this issue.


The inclusion of this sentence was not accidental. After a great deal of experience, Forrest anticipated that Sungenis would see this response from Bishop Rhoades not as an opportunity to better understand His Excellency and reconcile with him, but as an opportunity to seek ammunition against him, an opening to embark on a fishing expedition in the hopes of finding something – anything that could be used against him. And this is precisely what Sungenis did (a further, detailed proof of Sungenis’ bad faith and dishonesty is presented below). However, at least for all those of good will, His Excellency has settled the issue.

As anyone who has ever disagreed with Sungenis about anything more than a trivial matter knows, it is common to have one’s views severely distorted and mischaracterized. It also common to be inundated with endless “responses” from Sungenis until one simply stops replying out of exhaustion, at which time Sungenis claims that he “silenced” his opposition by the sheer force of his arguments. One can also often expect Sungenis to play the victim while doing the very things about which he bitterly complains. And should clear, irrefutable evidence be presented that Sungenis is wrong, that may well not matter, either. He may still be perfectly willing to allow a falsehood to stand if it sufficiently suits his purposes.

Again, at this very time, Sungenis continues to allow a damaging, fraudulent quote that he recklessly attributed to Roy Schoeman to stand without public retraction or apology (article). And he has known that it is fraudulent for over half a year. Additionally, he published erroneous material in his Catholic Apologetics Bible #2, even after being presented with irrefutable evidence of the error by his acting vice-president (see section #5, The Olive Tree). Such examples could be multiplied.

The fact is, Sungenis’ responses to and characterizations of the criticisms he has received in regard to his treatment of Jewish issues starting in 2002 and continuing through the present with Bishop Rhoades have been wrong. And now he has committed multiple calumnies against His Excellency and stands without even the illegitimate justification he initially attempted to give for his public rebellion against this successor to the Apostles. Additionally, after flaunting Church authority and committing multiple offenses against his bishop and a great many others, Sungenis has the audacity and self-centeredness to complain about an alleged violation of his Catholic “canonical rights.” Even more astounding is the fact that he dares to place himself in the role of Bishop Rhoades’ judge and jury. Based upon what authority, exactly?

Again, it needs to be repeated here that Bishop Rhoades is not on trial and Robert Sungenis possesses no authority beyond that of any other layman. Furthermore, His Excellency has never said anything nor written anything nor even had any conversation with Sungenis that would hint that he holds any unorthodox beliefs. All of this was and is a complete fabrication by Sungenis.

Yet even now, with a perfectly good clarification on the table, all Sungenis can offer is the dishonest claim that Bishop Rhoades' letter “proves nothing” and that he is “vehemently suspect” – while at least managing a grudging admission that he doesn’t actually know what His Excellency believes any longer. Again, this behavior with Bishop Rhoades is part of a long-established pattern. As such, is it truly difficult to understand why His Excellency has not continued to interact with Sungenis?

Where Matters Stand Now:

If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a heathen or a tax collector ~ Matthew 18: 17

This is an unseemly and dangerous game Sungenis is playing. And unfortunately, as we all witnessed when Sungenis set about trying to “out” several of us as Jews as part of his bizarre and disturbing Jew/Judaizer-hunt, it is far from an isolated event (article 1 and article 2). As such, if none of us would dignify Sungenis’ accusations about our supposed Jewish ancestry with an answer, we are certainly not about to help him similarly manipulate and further denigrate a Catholic bishop. No, Sungenis has been given every opportunity prescribed by our Lord, and unfortunately, he has made it perfectly clear that he will not even hear the Church. And so, until he complies with Bishop Rhoades’ orders and satisfies the simple requirements of justice by apologizing for and retracting his calumnies against His Excellency, we consider this matter effectively closed, as per Matthew 18:17.

Of course, should Sungenis thus reconcile with Bishop Rhoades, if he still honestly feels the need to ask questions of His Excellency, he can do so humbly, patiently, privately and charitably – like a respectful son, who understands that his father has many weighty responsibilities to which he must attend – rather than like a presumptuous, upstart prosecuting attorney trying to make a name for himself (below, read what Sungenis is now calling an innocent “invitation to discussion” made to Bishop Rhoades).

An Appeal for Prayer:

As we have all said, Robert Sungenis possesses some admirable qualities and abilities and has done fine work for the Church in the past. It is never a pleasant task to so publicly oppose a brother. But Robert is far from the only concern in view. There are many good people who have been and continue to be harmed, maligned, scandalized and confused by his work. Some of their stories and names are at the very end of Breaking the Silence. Too often it seems that the supporters of Robert Sungenis reflexively run to his defense, but could not care less about the many real, live people he has harmed with his dishonest, offensive and irresponsible behavior – now including a successor to the Apostles.

However, especially during this Easter season, we should all be reminded that, with God, even the very worst tragedy can be transformed into triumph. May we all continue to pray for Robert toward that hopeful end.

And, finally, we would all like to thank Bishop Rhoades for his patience, wisdom, leadership and faithfulness in dealing with this unfortunate situation.

(For those who need and/or desire further proof that Bishop Rhoades more than sufficiently answered Robert Sungenis’ baseless and slanderous accusations, as well as further examples of Sungenis’ dishonesty and other improprieties, see the detailed evidence below. However, there is simply not enough time to address all of the examples in his latest article, so a sampling has been presented.)


Michael Forrest
David Palm
Leon Suprenant - Catholics United for the Faith
Michael Sullivan - Catholics United for the Faith
Jacob Michael
Benjamin Douglass
Dr. Art Sippo
Michael Lopez
John Novotny
Patrick Morris
Matthew Anger


Detailed Supporting Evidence

Topics:

Ignoring the Hard Evidence and Hoping Others Will, Too

A) The Real Reason Sungenis Turned On Bishop Rhoades

B) Bishop Rhoades and The Cardinal Keeler/RCM (non)Connection

C) Is Bishop Rhoades “Propagating” heresy to “unsuspecting Catholics”?

D) Are Bishop Rhoades’ Primary “allegiances” to Jewish Interests?


Sungenis’ “Invitation” to “Discuss” Matters with Bishop Rhoades
An examination of Sungenis’ mischaracterization of his correspondence with Bishop Rhoades


Sungenis vs. Sungenis
An examination of Sungenis’ double standards

A) The Wily Interviewer?

B) Inquisitor Sungenis’ New Complaint and Set of Statements for Bishop Rhoades to Affirm or Deny

C) The Wily Bishop Rhoades?

1) Direct Evidence of Bad Faith

2) Double Standards
Sungenis’ treatment of Bishop Rhoades contrasted with his treatment of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger, the USCCB and Leon Suprenant

a) Pope John Paul II: Redemptoris Missio:
b) Pope Benedict XVI: Catechesis
c) Pope Benedict XVI: Good Friday Prayer
d) Cardinal Ratzinger: Many Religions, One Covenant
e) Cardinal Ratzinger: God and the World
f) The USCCB and Peter Phan
g) Leon Suprenant
h) Cardinal Kasper


Sungenis vs. Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI
Is Sungenis in agreement with Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict, as he portrays?

Fr. King’s Alleged “Statement” About Supersessionism
Evidence from Sungenis’ own writing that he is not being honest

The Selectively Quoted Correspondence from Bishop Rhoades
An examination of Sungenis’ recent history of selectively quoting correspondence in order to give a false impression


Any Excuse to Attack My Bishop Will Do:
A discussion of Sungenis’ latest illegitimate excuse to continue attacking Bishop Rhoades


Page 131 of the USCCA
A review of evidence that Sungenis is glossing over the evidence against him and also that he is condemned by his own strict standard


Always Certain of Himself
An examination of Sungenis’ penchant for treating his opinions as facts, focusing on a recent string of errors

Leon Suprenant’s False Charges?
An examination of Sungenis’ most recent false charges against Leon Suprenant, reviewing Sungenis’ own contradictory statements in the past


One Standard for Me, Another for Thee
A review of Sungenis’ most recent complaints in light of his own improprieties


Internal Contradictions in Sungenis’ Own Theology?
A discussion of Sungenis’ views of the relationship between the Jewish people and God


A Study in Contrasts:

A) The Humility and Courage of the Pope vs. Robert Sungenis

B) The Example of Respect and Obedience Learned from Catholic Saints
________________________


Ignoring the Hard Evidence and Hoping Others Will, Too:

In MRBR, Sungenis wrote:

As for their malicious attacks against me, I will not be answering them. I will let the good Lord be their judge. I am not in this either to protect my own reputation, uplift myself, or to denigrate anyone else. (p. 2)


For anyone who has followed Sungenis’ controversies over the years, this statement is seriously out of character, to put it mildly. The idea of Sungenis allowing God to judge others, rather than doing so himself, is unusual these days. And as we have seen above, the same is true in regard to Sungenis’ statement that he is not focused upon his own reputation, uplifting himself or denigrating anyone else. As such, one may be excused for retaining a healthy skepticism regarding the supposed reasons for this new attitude. Perhaps some more likely reasons for this new-found restraint may be discovered directly below.

A) The Real Reason Sungenis Turned On Bishop Rhoades

The following piece of evidence that proves Sungenis’ story is fiction was completely ignored by him. As such, it will simply be represented with only minor additions (originally appeared in Bishop Rhoades Sets the Record Straight):

One will note that Sungenis is now claiming that at his July 27th, 2007 meeting at the Diocese of Harrisburg, he “knew upon leaving the building the erroneous theology [Fr. King], Rhoades and the USCCB were attempting to propagate to unsuspecting Catholics." (OCRNR, p. 11: January, 2008). So, according to Sungenis himself, he knew right then and there at this meeting that these men were intent upon spreading their dangerous heresy to innocent Catholics.

This point is a very serious charge, indeed. And as such, one can understand why a man like Sungenis could absolutely never allow such evil to continue unabated without immediately making every effort to expose the perpetrators for the frauds and subversives that they truly are.

Except that he did precisely that, and much more.

Refer back to his article of July 31st, 2007 (CAITJ), the “permanent” statement about the Jewish people that mysteriously disappeared just a while before Sungenis recommenced attacking Bishop Rhoades. What did Sungenis have to say about Bishop Rhoades, Fr. King and Fr. Massa just four days after this meeting in which he now claims he “knew upon leaving the building the erroneous theology [Fr. King], Rhoades and the USCCB were attempting to propagate to unsuspecting Catholics”? Did Sungenis utter a single negative word about Bishop Rhoades, Fr. King, or Fr. Massa and their doctrinal beliefs at that time? No. To the contrary, he praised these men to the high heavens, pledged filial loyalty and submission to them and assured his followers that His Excellency's teaching in regard to Jewish issues was trustworthy.

I take their wisdom and counsel with the utmost seriousness and consider their direction as if it was from God himself. I consider it an honor not only to be a member of the Catholic Church but also to be under the vigilance of such wise and caring pastors. In short, I consider it a privilege to obey them.

If in the future we write any new material on the Jews, it will always be with the required due diligence, as if the bishop were present with us. Since he acts in God’s stead, we will do our utmost to please him so as to preserve the peace and tranquility he so desires to maintain in the body of Christ.

With the deepest appreciation to my bishop, the Very Reverend Kevin Rhoades, his vicar general, the Very Reverend William King, the Reverend James Massa and the USCCB…

Neither our obedience to our bishop nor our bishop's directives [about Bob's handling of Jewish issues] should in any way be interpreted as either of us compromising on the truth, but only that the truth be communicated with....a 'human and Christian spirit'...both in its content and in its tone. (Article)


And so, how is one to explain Bob's utterly contradictory stories about what happened at his meeting at the Diocese of Harrisburg? The answer may be found, again, in the letter he wrote shortly after his meeting at the Diocese of Harrisburg to his friend Edgar Suter:

The bishop allowed me to work out a compromise with him…We both win, because I, according to him, represent the Catholic Church with the name of Catholic in the title "Catholic Apologetics International."…If I have read them wrong and their intention is to censor me wholesale, then I will demand a trial and I will bring it as far up the hierarchial [sic] ladder as possible in order to fight it. For now, there is no reason to fight it, because both parties are in a win-win situation.” (Sungenis email of August 5th, 2007, forwarded by Sungenis supporter Edgar Suter to a wide audience).


Thus are Sungenis’ true motivations exposed. And it does not comport well at all with the portrait Sungenis has painted of himself as a warrior righteously battling the pernicious errors that “Rhoades” was “attempting to propagate to unsuspecting Catholics.” The truth is that Sungenis engaged in a simple, self-serving calculation. He first portrayed himself as a meek, faithful, obedient "son of the Church" and then he praised Bishop Rhoades, the USCCB, and the bishop's representatives in the most glowing terms when they permitted him to use the name "Catholic" to market himself and his work. But as soon as Bishop Rhoades revoked that privilege because of Bob's persistent inability to restrain his anti-Jewish extremism and hostility, Bob changed tactics, went on the attack against these men, charged them with heresy, and attempted to portray himself as a victimized righteous crusader for orthodoxy.

Of course, such revisionist history is nothing new for Bob. Back in 2006, he lied about his discussions with Michael Forrest and their correspondence leading up to his decision to quit CAI. Sungenis then tried to enlist his wife as support by claiming that she was an “eyewitness” to everything that occurred. And when David Palm pushed him on this point, Sungenis reconfirmed this claim and gave further explanations for how she supposedly was an “eyewitness”. The problem for Sungenis was that he had accidentally given the game away in an earlier article. In that article, he offhandedly mentioned that he had recounted the events surrounding Forrest’s departure to her. Obviously, she was not an eyewitness and he lied about it. Yet, no retraction or apology from Sungenis was forthcoming even after he was presented with the evidence. Just silence. (Article)

B) Bishop Rhoades and the Cardinal Keeler/RCM (non)Connection:

Until MRBR, the centerpiece of Sungenis’ allegations against Bishop Rhoades has been his attempt to tie His Excellency to Cardinal Keeler and the problematic RCM document of 2002. In his article of July 3rd, 2007, The Imprimatur and the Smear Campaign, this illegitimate attempt to establish guilt by association was the only argument Sungenis put forth. (Article) Then, in OCRNR (Jan. 2008), Sungenis again leaned heavily on this illegitimate tactic in order to attempt to establish that Bishop Rhoades has greater “allegiances” to Jewish interests than the Catholic faith.

As such, Sungenis’ silence in the face of Forrest’s refutation of this central allegation is deafening. (Scroll down to “Evidence #2.”)

However, one should also recognize the other serious ramifications of this connection that Sungenis erroneously tried to establish between Bishop Rhoades and RCM.

The RCM document appeared to convey two closely-related and problematic propositions: 1) Jews have their own salvific covenant with God and therefore don’t need to accept Christ and 2) There is no need to evangelize Jews. Sungenis had a very strong and lengthy reaction to this document that eventually degenerated into something very ugly and erroneous, but his initial, substantive criticisms boiled down to one thing:

The RCM has merely been trying, although utterly failing, to set the stage for this bombshell question: Should Catholics convert and baptize the Jews. Everything else in this report is commentary. The real question is conversion… As I have noted previously, neither Nostra Aetate, nor any other document in Vatican II, says that the Church is ever to relinquish her mission to the conversion of the Jews. (Article, emphasis added)


So, according to Sungenis, the “real question” raised in RCM was evangelization and everything else was “commentary.” Why is this so? Obviously, if the Jewish people should be evangelized with the Gospel, then this inevitably leads to the conclusion that the Jewish people are not already in a salvific covenant. They would have no need of being saved if they are already saved right where they are.

Now, fast-forward to 2007-2008. On more than one occasion, Sungenis has encapsulated his criticisms of Bishop Rhoades' alleged errors as being the same as those held by Cardinal Keeler and the RCM document. And in fact, he even quoted from RCM in the direct context of his allegations against Bishop Rhoades. And in so doing, he reconfirmed that his central objection revolved around the non-evangelization of the Jewish people:

Rhoades’ allegiances are not difficult to discern. His lifelong mentor is William Cardinal Keeler who was the previous bishop of Harrisburg and who ordained Rhoades to that position in 2004. It appears that he and Keeler are on the same wavelength when it comes to reinterpreting Catholic doctrine to accommodate the Jews. Keeler was the lone representative for the USCCB who signed the Reflections on Covenant and Missions document with Jewish rabbis in 2002that, among other erroneous statements, concluded the following: '…a deepening Catholic appreciation of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, together with the divinely-given mission to Jews to witness to God’s faithful love, lead to the conclusion that campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church.' Here we notice the same cause-effect relationship that was apparent in Rabbi Rosen and Eugene Fisher's thesis, that is, since the Jews have an eternal covenant with God, they thus have their own salvation program, and are not to be the targets of Christian conversion efforts. Is there any reason why we should not call this a heresy?" (Quote of RCM in Sungenis’ January 2008 article, OCRNR, p. 12, emphasis added)


The problem for Sungenis is that in answer to Forrest’s fourth question, His Excellency unequivocally affirmed the Church’s missionary mandate to the Jewish people (see letter). Yet, remarkably, what was Sungenis’ response?

The interview with Bishop Rhoades proves nothing…


No retraction of or apology for his calumnies, just more obfuscation. And so, again, we see Sungenis moving the goal-posts, changing the field of play with his bishop.

C) Is Bishop Rhoades “Propagating” heresy to “unsuspecting Catholics”?

After Forrest’s refutation of Sungenis, did Sungenis provide any kind of support for his outrageously slanderous allegation that Bishop Rhoades is “attempting to propagate” the dual covenant error to “unsuspecting Catholics”? (OCRNR, p. 11) No. Has he apologized for or retracted it? No.

D) Are Bishop Rhoades’ Primary “allegiances” to Jewish Interests?

After Forrest’s refutation of Sungenis, did Sungenis provide any kind of support for his outrageously slanderous allegation that Bishop Rhoades possesses greater “allegiances” to Jewish interests than to the Catholic faith? (OCRNR, p. 12) No. Has he apologized for or retracted it? No.

There are two crucial questions that Sungenis ought to answer: If, as he claims, he knew by July 27, 2007 that Fr. King and Bishop Rhoades were propagating erroneous and possibly heretical theology to unsuspecting Catholics, why did he then proceed to so effusively praise them? Second, it is evident that he planned to continue to write theological defenses of supersessionism. In that case, if he already "knew" that the bishop opposed his supersessionism, how could he claim that thenceforth he would only write things which he knew his bishop would approve of? In short, was he lying then or is he lying now?

Sungenis’ “Invitation” to “Discuss” Matters with Bishop Rhoades:

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way. ~ CCC §2478

Do not be haughty…do not be wise in your own estimation. ~ Romans 12:16

In MRBR, Sungenis writes:

If [Bishop Rhoades, the USCCB and CUF] wish to open up discussions with me on [the dual covenant] issue, my door is always open. In September 2007 I invited the bishop to such a discussion [on the dual covenant theory], but he did not accept my invitation. (p. 12)


Let’s review what Sungenis characterizes here as a benign “invitation” to “discussion”. The most obvious example is to be found immediately above the preceding quote from MRBR:

If [Bishop Rhoades and the USCCB] will not affirm the above statements [Sungenis’ personally created 3 statements of orthodoxy], then my criticism of their theological stance on the Jews and the Old Covenant remains, and it will be my considered opinion that they are holding to or teaching erroneous beliefs that are suspect of heresy. (p. 12)


Below, the reader will find another “invitation” to “discussion” Sungenis proffered to Bishop Rhoades last September:

I subsequently wrote the bishop a letter saying that I would be quite happy to expose the belief in Dual Covenant theology that he and the USCCB were apparently promoting. After four months, there has been no response from the chancellery. (OCRNR, pp 11-12, emphasis added)


In a more recent e-mail, he raised the issue again. However, he also amplified the fact that he wrote his bishop a fifteen page letter, not to seek a clarification or a “discussion” of His Excellency’s views, but to openly accuse him of holding to a false doctrine and to press his bishop for a defense of it:

When, in a 15-page letter I then sent him, I asked him to show me from Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium where he could support his anti-supersessionism, he didn’t reply. (e-mail of 20 Feb 2008).


Perhaps these are invitations to a “discussion” in a certain Sicilian sense of the word. Or perhaps Sungenis is having another difficulty with definitions (article 1 and article 2). Because, according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of “discuss” is:

To investigate by reasoning or argument…“discuss” implies a sifting of possibilities, especially by presenting considerations pro and con.


Clearly, an innocent “discussion” is not what Sungenis has “invited” Bishop Rhoades to. Surely, the word Sungenis sought here was “Inquisition.” Sungenis offered Bishop Rhoades the “opportunity” to sit in the dock while Sungenis accused and grilled him on a set of trumped up charges. And it is hardly a surprise that His Excellency didn’t jump at the “opportunity” Sungenis offered. As stated before, it seems obvious that Sungenis’ letter would simply have confirmed in His Excellency’s mind that Sungenis is implacably contentious and irresponsible.

Sungenis vs. Sungenis:

Diverse weights and diverse measures, both are abominable before God ~ Prov. 20:10 ~

Below, clear evidence has been presented that Robert Sungenis has been duplicitous in his treatment of Bishop Rhoades’ clear statement about the dual covenant theory. However, first it seems appropriate to note Sungenis’ double-standards in regard to charges he made against Michael Forrest, the “interviewer.”

A) The Wily Interviewer?

He who is discontented and disturbed is agitated by various suspicions; he neither has rest himself, nor does he permit others to rest. Many times he says that which he should not say, and leaves undone that which it were best for him to do. ~ Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Sungenis charged that Michael Forrest was being deceptive in the way he phrased questions, by choosing words and phrases like “independent saving path”, “independent saving covenant”, “salvific covenant”, “apart from Christ.” He writes:

I see what amounts to a very carefully designed set of questions that end up failing to ask the bishop the very question that is absolutely necessary to know precisely where he stands on this issue. At no time is the bishop asked this simple question: “Bishop Rhoades, do you believe that the Old Covenant remains valid for the Jews today, such that it has not been revoked or superseded by the New Covenant?” Instead, the words ‘valid,’ ‘revoked’ and ‘superseded,’ which, if anyone has been paying attention to this issue for the last five years, are the most important legal words related to the topic of the Old Covenant today, yet are missing from the interview. (MRBR, p. 2)


To Sungenis, this was enough to raise his grave suspicions. Perhaps even Forrest is “in league with the USCCB”? These are obviously critical words in Sungenis’ estimation: “valid”, “revoked”, “superseded.” And anyone who fails to use them is likely up to no good.

The problem for Sungenis is that his own theological treatise on this topic, Catholic Apolgetics and its Teaching on the Jews, which he posted on July 31st as CAI’s ultimate and supposedly “permanent” theological statement in regard to the Jewish people, does not use two of these three terms either. You will search in vain for the supposedly critical word “valid." And while the term “revoked” appears in the article, it is in the context of John Paul II’s statement about the Old Covenant and therefore it’s preceded by the word “not”. So, in reality, the word “revoked” does not appear either.

At least Forrest has an excuse, because he’s allegedly just a simple “insurance salesman from Massachusetts.” But Sungenis is a professional apologist. He claims to hold a research doctorate in theology. Isn’t this all the more reason to find these critical omissions suspicious?

Sungenis also made the following dismissive and suspicious statement:

In the Catholic faith, we take as a given theological fact that no one ‘reaches heaven without the mediation of Jesus Christ,’ so the question is superfluous unless, of course, the interviewer has an ulterior theological motive for asking it.(MRBR, p. 5)


Is Sungenis’ claim true, that there are no professing Catholics who question the necessity of Christ’s mediation for entrance into heaven? No. As Sungenis knows perfectly well, this was one of the controversial issues raised by the problematic document, Reflections on Covenant and Mission (RCM), as evidenced by the fact that many other Catholic apologists have stepped up to publicly counter this error.

In response to RCM, Karl Keating wrote:

Catholic contributors to Reflections on Covenant and Mission argue that ‘while the Catholic Church regards the saving act of Christ as central to the process of human salvation for all,’ Jews do not need that saving act because they ‘already dwell in a saving covenant with God.’ (Article, emphasis added)


In response to RCM, Rosalind Moss wrote:

To deny that it is Christ alone who saves, that the old covenant was, as Paul says, “our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24, NASB), the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5), is to deny Christ for ourselves. If he is not the Messiah of Israel—God come in the flesh (1 John 4:2)—then he is no one’s Messiah. (Article, p. 21, emphasis added)


And David Moss wrote:

Now, 2,000 years after the death and resurrection of our Lord, in the name of friendship, respect, solidarity on various social causes, and witness to the one God, this document suggests that the Jewish people do not need Yeshua for they have their own salvific covenant. (Article, p. 30, emphasis added)


Additionally, below the reader will find several direct quotes from Sungenis and one of his associates illustrating that even they don’t seem to believe that the necessity of Jesus Christ for entrance into heaven is “a given theological fact” in Catholic circles.

The bottom line is that there was never any intent to evade core issues. Sungenis’ reaction here only illustrates one problem in dealing with him: when he disagrees with a person, he tends to jump to the conclusion that they are deceitful – just as he did with Roy Schoeman when he accused Schoeman of being dishonest in Salvation is From the Jews before even reading the book. (Article)

The fact is, both Forrest and Bishop Rhoades echoed plain words like those Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul II and even Sungenis and his associates have used in the past in regard to this issue, and most likely for the same reason they have done so. Different people may use such loaded, technical theological terms in different ways and Forrest wanted the questions and answers to be clear to an average Catholic without devolving into the kind of inquisition that Sungenis seems intent upon (and in fact, average Catholics have found them to be more than clear but Sungenis has not). The evidence proves that he is simply not operating in good faith at this point.


Directly below are only a few quotes from Sungenis and an associate that echo the very terms Forrest used in the questions he sent to Bishop Rhoades (examples can readily be multiplied many times over). Examples from the writings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are presented in subsection C, “The Wiley Bishop Rhoades?” These examples illustrate that neither Forrest nor Bishop Rhoades were being cagey. Rather, they were honestly seeking to address the issues as the Church and even Sungenis himself has laid them out. While reading these quotes, also keep in mind this simultaneously dismissive and suspicious claim Sungenis made, that “In the Catholic faith, we take as a given theological fact that no one ‘reaches heaven without the mediation of Jesus Christ,’ so the question is superfluous unless, of course, the interviewer has an ulterior theological motive for asking it.” (MRBR, p. 5)

1) [Sungenis]: “…unsuspecting Catholics to the idea that the Catholic Church has changed her mind and is now teaching that Jews have their own salvation program with Moses and don’t need Christianity.” (OCRNR, p. 13, emphasis added)

Note: "Jews have their own salvation program with Moses", this certainly appears as if Sungenis was objecting to an “independent, salvific covenant with God, apart from Jesus Christ”, which is what Forrest presented to Bishop Rhoades.

2) [Ferrara]: “This does not mean that the religion of the Mosaic covenant is still efficacious for salvation, or that the Jews are somehow saved under the Abrahamic covenant without Christ, or that Jews are not under an objective duty to ‘acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men,’ (Article, emphasis added)

Note: Here, an argument is put forth by a Sungenis associate against the notion that “Jews are somehow saved….without Christ” - again, almost precisely echoing Forrest’s own language about being saved “apart from Christ.” Apparently, such a phrase is only “superfluous” or suggestive of an “ulterior motive” when Sungenis is opposed to the one using it.

3) [Sungenis]: “It is not, as some suggest, to resurrect Old Covenant worship and laws so as to give today’s Jews an exclusive relationship and salvific pathway to God. The only pathway to God is the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. If the Jew deliberately and knowingly rejects Jesus Christ as God, then he cannot be saved.” (OCRNR, p. 30, emphasis added)

Note: We invite the reader to review Forrest’s questions and Bishop Rhoades’ answers. What Sungenis wrote above conveys almost exactly what Forrest and Bishop Rhoades conveyed. Where Sungenis writes “exclusive relationship and salvific pathway to God”, Forrest wrote “independent saving path to God.”

4) [Sungenis]: “More and more Catholics…are seeking for one thing – to establish the position that:… this covenant is independent, but runs concurrently with, the New Covenant; and (c) most hold that the Old Covenant is the means by which God provides salvation to the Jews.” (OCRNR, p. 1)

Note: Again, notice Sungenis’ choice of the word “independent” to modify “covenant”, in the same way that Forrest used these words to describe the nature of the error.

These statements from Sungenis himself illustrate that he had been objecting to those who hold that the Jewish people retain a separate, independent, salvific covenant with God, with no need to accept Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in these same terms that Forrest addressed his questions to Bishop Rhoades. Thus, it is highly disingenuous for Sungenis to turn around now and claim that all along the essential terms of the debate were very different from those he had laid out himself. They were the same terms he used. But he apparently didn’t like the answer he received. So now he wants to change the terms.

B) Inquisitor Sungenis’ New Complaint and Set of Statements for Bishop Rhoades to Affirm or Deny:

Below, the three “statements of orthodoxy” Sungenis created are presented for future reference:

* the Old Covenant, the Mosaic covenant, has been revoked and replaced entirely (i.e.,superseded), by the New Covenant. It is not a “valid” covenant and it does not continue “eternally.”

* the Old Covenant cannot save the Jews, even if the Old Covenant is somehow promoted as being tied to the New Covenant, or tied to the Abrahamic covenant, or under the mediation of Jesus Christ, or is categorized as “not being apart from Christ” or “not outside of Christ.”

* that the Jew, barring instances of invincible ignorance that can only be judged by God, can only be saved by converting to the New Covenant and forsaking any dependence on the Old Covenant.

If they will not affirm the above statements, then my criticism of their theological stance on the Jews and the Old Covenant remains, and it will be my considered opinion that they are holding to or teaching erroneous beliefs that are suspect of heresy. (MRBR, p. 12)



C) The Wily Bishop Rhoades?

In the sin of his lips the evil man is ensnared, but the just comes free of trouble. ~ Prov. 12:13

Before continuing, it bears repeating: Bishop Rhoades is not on trial here. It is unseemly in the extreme for an unqualified layman like Sungenis to demand from a bishop of the Catholic Church “statements of faith” that are a product of Sungenis’ own mind. Bishop Rhoades has never criticized Sungenis’ treatment of the dual covenant error. Sungenis has never provided any actual evidence at all of any statements of, writings by, or conversations with Bishop Rhoades that would justify his charges and he will never provide it because no such evidence exists. Sungenis’ rash conclusion is based on nothing more than guilt by association, and an alleged statement made by Fr. King that Sungenis is being dishonest about (see further below). Thankfully, at least Sungenis seems to have dropped his fallacious attempt to ascribe Cardinal Keeler’s views on the dual covenant issue to Bishop Rhoades through guilt by association. But, of course, he merely dropped the charge without any apology or acknowledgment of error.

1) Direct Evidence of Bad Faith

Sungenis’ new charge is essentially that perhaps Bishop Rhoades is simply being evasive and wily. Perhaps Bishop Rhoades believes that somehow the Jewish people can be saved through the Old Covenant not apart from Christ. He writes: “if the interviewer really desired to get to the truth of what Bishop Rhoades believes about the Old Covenant, he should have asked the bishop if he believed the Old Covenant could save the Jews if the Old Covenant is ‘not apart from Christ.’”(MRBR, p. 6)

There are several reasons why this new charge only proves that Sungenis is operating in extremely bad faith. But perhaps the most obvious are to be found directly within the letter that Sungenis proclaims “proves nothing”: Why would Bishop Rhoades state so clearly that he supports the evangelization of the Jewish people if he believes they are saved by means of the Old Covenant, even if with Christ? And why would His Excellency write, “It is not correct to speak of two independent covenants in effect today, one for Jews and one for Gentiles, since Jesus is the only Savior who continues His saving work in the Church and by means of the Church, His Body. There is only one salvific economy.”? Clearly, only bad faith can explain Sungenis’ characterization of this statement as evasive, unclear, and concealing a hidden heterodoxy.

View Bishop Rhoades' complete answer to Forrest here.

2) Double Standards

Sungenis has proclaimed that Bishop Rhoades’ lengthy and specific letter “proves nothing.” (MRBR, p. 3) And yet, he was perfectly satisfied that far less explicit statements made by John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, the USCCB, Cardinal Kasper and even Leon Suprenant were proof that these men had rejected the dual covenant error. In fact, he was positively ebullient. Additionally, Sungenis has ignored statements from Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI that appear to be in clear conflict with his views.

The obvious question is simple: Why the diametrically opposed reactions? The answer is equally simple: In the cases of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, the USCCB and Leon Suprenant, it was to Sungenis’ benefit to be satisfied. In the case with Bishop Rhoades, it was to his detriment. Why? Because if Sungenis admits that Bishop Rhoades does not hold to the doctrinal deviation of which Sungenis accuses him, then the already flimsy, illegitimate rationale Sungenis sought for his flagrant, public disobedience becomes even more farcical.

The reader is urged once again to see the blatant double standards employed by Sungenis to justify himself. Below, you will see Sungenis become positively charitable and even effusive, at least when he can use such statements to take cheap shots at Jewish converts, or when he is trying to gain the sympathies of someone like Leon Suprenant:

a) Pope John Paul II: Redemptoris Missio

[Sungenis]: As much as our last pope made friendly ties with the Jews, his friendliness had one purpose, as he says in Redemptoris Missio (1, 5): “…since for all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, salvation can come only from Jesus Christ.” (OCRNR: p. 13)


So, for Sungenis, this simple sentence fragment from John Paul II sufficed to prove that the Holy Father was one of the good guys.

The problem here, of course, is that Bishop Rhoades quoted this very sentence from Redemptoris Missio in his letter to Michael Forrest. Yet, suddenly this statement “proves nothing” when Bishop Rhoades quotes it. Additionally, Sungenis glossed right over the obvious references and terminology that Bishop Rhoades employed from Dominus Iesus as well.

The same can be said of other quotes from John Paul II that appear in Sungenis’ article (OCRNR) and footnotes about the New Covenant being “eternal” and “definitive.” These very words were repeated by Bishop Rhoades as well. But, again, all of this “proves nothing” to Sungenis now.

b) Pope Benedict XVI: Catechesis

And on another occasion, he was positively ecstatic at this far less explicit statement made by Pope Benedict XVI and deemed it to have clearly confirmed the traditional teaching…at least when he felt he could use it to take a cheap shot at Jewish converts. It should be pointed out that this excerpt came from the Pope’s catechesis on the relationship between Christ and the Church. It was not a teaching about the relationship between the Church and the Jewish people.

Yet, Sungenis was perfectly clear about the import of the Pope’s words. He entitled the article: Pope Benedict XVI Says Jews Must Convert to Christianity in order to be Saved. An excerpt from the article is below:

R. Sungenis: CAI has consistently taught the Church’s traditional teaching: (a) that the Old Covenant has been abolished and there is only one covenant of salvation today, the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, and (b) that the Jews must convert to Christianity in order to be saved.

Below you will see that both these teachings have been confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI in his Wednesday morning address of March 16, 2006. In one of his paragraphs the pope states:

'By their mere existence, the twelve – called from different backgrounds – have become a summons to all Israel to conversion and to allow themselves to be reunited in a new covenant, full and perfect accomplishment of the old.'”


As we would expect for a message that disagrees with the current consensus among 2002 'Covenant and Missions' authors (e.g., Cardinal Keeler and Jewish rabbis) and various Jewish converts (e.g., Roy Schoeman and David Moss), the only place this address was publicized was L’Osservatore Romano. (Article)


First, as both Michael Forrest and Ben Douglass have pointed out, Roy Schoeman and David Moss criticized the RCM document and would completely agree with Pope Benedict’s statement above. So this was simply another calumny committed by Sungenis against these men.

Additionally, do we see those crucial words: “revoked”, “superseded” and “valid” in this sentence written by the Holy Father? No. Are Sungenis’ three statements of orthodoxy satisfied? No. Is there anything in this statement that explicitly indicates that Jewish people cannot be saved through the Old Covenant, with or without Christ? No. And yet, Sungenis confidently proclaims that this far less explicit statement most certainly affirms:

(a) that the Old Covenant has been abolished and there is only one covenant of salvation today, the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, and (b) that the Jews must convert to Christianity in order to be saved.

Remarkably, Sungenis readily accepted that this simple statement stands in complete and utter contradiction to the very same RCM document that he illegitimately tried to pin on Bishop Rhoades. But Bishop Rhoades' statement “proves nothing.”

If one wanted to adopt Sungenis’ hermeneutic of extreme suspicion, there are certainly several questions one could pose. Exactly what did Pope Benedict XVI mean by "All Israel"? All the believers, gentile and Jewish? Or just Jews? Where does this statement say that Jews cannot be saved by the Old Covenant? And isn't this statement about the New Covenant being the "full and perfect" accomplishment of the Old just a weasel way of saying that maybe the Old Covenant is still in effect but not quite full and perfect?

In fact, Sungenis essentially made this very accusation against Bishop Rhoades:

The problem here, of course, is that designating the New Covenant as “the definitive covenant” does not negate the possibility that the Old Covenant could serve as a less than definitive covenant and thus remain a valid covenant for the Jews. (MRBR, p. 5)


c) Pope Benedict XVI: Good Friday Prayer

The next example of Sungenis’ duplicity can be found in his article about the new Good Friday prayer (article).

Sungenis praised the Pope thusly: “Pope Benedict XVI has once again acted as a faithful Pontiff of the Catholic Church."

The entire article is worth reading in order to understand the fullness of Sungenis' duplicity with Bishop Rhoades. However, the following example will suffice:

Although the pope eliminated the word “conversion” from the 1962 missal, it is unmistakable that his reiteration of the “prayer for the Jews,” since it is placed in a context of receiving salvation from Jesus Christ, is making the same demand on the Jews that Catholic tradition has required of them – that their salvation can only come from Jesus Christ and that they must submit to Him in order to become saved.


But what does the Pope’s new Good Friday prayer actually say that led to Sungenis’ unequivocal praise?

Let us pray also for the Jews. May our God and Lord illuminate their hearts, so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, savior of all men. Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise.

Almighty and everlasting God, who desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of truth, mercifully grant that, as the fullness of the Gentiles enters into your Church, all Israel may be saved. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.


Does this prayer rule out precisely the sort of possibilities Sungenis claims to be so concerned about in Bishop Rhoades’ case? No. Is there any mention of “revoked”, “superseded” or “valid”? No. Is there a single word explicitly saying that Jews can only be saved through the New Covenant? No. Would this prayer satisfy Sungenis’ three self-composed statements of orthodoxy? No.

Regardless, the import of Pope Benedict’s words was “unmistakable” in Sungenis’ estimation. Bishop Rhoades openly affirmed that the Church’s missionary call extends to the Jewish people as well. And he went far beyond what is in the Good Friday prayer in affirming the unicity and universality of the New Covenant in Christ. Yet, now this all “proves nothing” to Sungenis.

Can there be any doubt that had Benedict XVI written what Bishop Rhoades wrote, Sungenis would still be positively gushing about it, having placed it front and center on his website?

d) Cardinal Ratzinger: Many Religions, One Covenant (MROC)

Aside from Sungenis’ ready acceptance of very general statements from Pope Benedict XVI, he also ignores a statement made by then-Cardinal Ratzinger that appears to contradict his own views of supersessionism:

With regard to the issue of the nature of the covenant, it is important to note that the Last Supper sees itself as making a covenant: it is the prolongation of the Sinai covenant, which is not abrogated, but renewed. (MROC, p. 62)


Sungenis has certainly read this statement. He has written about this book on multiple occasions, recommended it and quoted another statement that appears in close proximity to the one above. Here is the word “abrogated”— a synonym for the very word that Sungenis insists upon as a standard of orthodoxy for Bishop Rhoades (revoked). And yet Cardinal Ratzinger expressed the opposite of what Sungenis holds; the Cardinal explicitly conveys that the Mosaic Covenant is “not abrogated, but renewed.”

Can there be any doubt that had Bishop Rhoades made such a statement, Sungenis would have posted it front and center on his website as absolute “proof” of Bishop Rhoades’ heterodoxy? Yet, all Sungenis offered is praise and assurances that Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI is “on my side of the theological fence.” (MRBR, p. 2) The blatant double standard is obvious.

e) Cardinal Ratzinger: God and the World (GW)

In another book which Sungenis appears to have read (at the very least, he is fully aware of the quotes which follow below: article) then-Cardinal Ratzinger made the following comment:

“Israel still has a mission to accomplish today. We are in fact waiting for the moment when Israel, too, will say Yes to Christ, but we also know that while history still runs its course even this standing at the door fulfills a mission, one that is important for the world. In that way [Israel] still has a special place in God’s plans.” (GW, p. 150, emphasis added)


Aside from the other problems this raises for Sungenis’ views of the Jewish people (see below: “Sungenis vs. Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI”), it is telling to compare then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s statement about the “special place” Israel retains in God’s plans with a statement made by Bishop Rhoades and Sungenis’ reaction to it:

Bishop Rhoades: “the Jewish people retain a special relationship to God” (Letter to Forrest, Feb. 7, 2008)

Sungenis’ retort: “The word ‘special’ does not have any theological or spiritual meaning. It is an ambiguous term that has no place in these discussions.” (MRBR, p. 8)


Again, Sungenis’ double standards and bad faith are in full view. Additionally, then-Cardinal Ratzinger had the following to say about the Old Covenant:

“It is another question, how far…life under the Old Covenant, a life that remains closed to the New Covenant that comes from Christ, is still a valid way of life.” (GW, p. 149)


One will notice that all-important word to Sungenis in relationship to the USCCA’s page 131: “valid.” And one will also notice that then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s question was not whether life under the Old Covenant is still valid, but rather, the extent to which it is still valid. Thus, at least on its face, this statement might appear to assume that the Old Covenant is indeed "valid" to some extent - especially if viewed with Sungenis' hermeneutic of deep suspicion.

Can one imagine if Bishop Rhoades had made such a statement? At the very least, one is safe to assume that the good Bishop would never have been described by Sungenis as being “on my side of the theological fence.” (MRBR, p. 2). But then, Cardinal Ratzinger never ordered Sungenis to cease and desist from writing about Jewish issues.

f) The USCCB and Fr. Peter Phan

Sungenis has called the following document from the USCCB “a refreshing reassertion of Catholic truth concerning salvation.” (OCRNR, p. 12)

[Sungenis]: In one concluding statement that seems to be a direct rejection of Keeler’s 2002 Reflections on Covenant and Missions document, Lori’s report faults Phan for “leading the reader to conclude that there is some kind of moral obligation for the Church to refrain from calling people to conversion to Christ and to membership in his Church….This call for an end to Christian mission is in conflict with the Church’s commission, given to her by Christ himself: ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…’” (pp. 9-10). Although the document does not specifically mention the Jews or any other non-Christian religion, it is easy to see from the tenor of the document that the Jews are not considered an exception to its rule. (OCRNR, p. 13)


Here we see Sungenis’ satisfaction and pleasure with a statement from the USCCB that doesn’t even mention Jews, yet he is perfectly able to “see from the tenor of the document” that it is a direct rejection of the very document he tried to pin on Bishop Rhoades: RCM. Furthermore, this statement from the USCCB only objects to the negative proposition that the Church must refrain from evangelization. In contrast, Bishop Rhoades made a statement about the Church’s positive duty to bring the Gospel to all people, even specifically mentioning the Jewish people, which is obviously a much more direct and explicit rejection of the problematic areas of RCM. Yet, amazingly, Bishop Rhoades’ statement “proves nothing” according to Sungenis.

Additionally, it should be noted that Sungenis attempted to set Bishop Rhoades in opposition to this USCCB critique of Fr. Peter Phan's book. This is yet another calumny as there is every reason to believe that Bishop Rhoades is in complete agreement with this document.

Also, in this document by the USCCB, one will note the complete absence of the critical words Sungenis insists upon for Forrest and Bishop Rhoades: “revoke”, “supersede”, “valid”. Still, he calls it “a refreshing reassertion of Catholic truth concerning salvation.” The double-standard is obvious.

g) Leon Suprenant:

On March 13th, 2008, Sungenis wrote the following to Leon Suprenant of Catholics United for the Faith, in reaction to Suprenant’s defense of Bishop Rhoades:

Suprenant wrote: There have been exaggerations of this view, specifically with regard to Judaism, that are inimical to the Catholic faith. Sometimes this is referred to as the "dual covenant" theory–that Christians have their covenant and the Jews have theirs. Under this view, there is no apparent need for Jews to convert, because they have their own saving covenant. The U.S. Adult Catechism, in its treatment of this issue, should have been clearer, especially in light of the concern set forth in the preceding paragraph. It is to be earnestly hoped that the sentence on p. 131 regarding the "eternal validity" of the Mosaic covenant will eventually be amended and clarified so as to affirm the abrogation of the Mosaic Law with the advent of its New Covenant fulfillment.

Sungenis responded: Here is what I see. Leon Suprenant and CUF have now stated in public that they agree that the Mosaic covenant has been abrogated and replaced by the New Covenant. I also believe that the Mosaic covenant has been abrogated and replaced by the New Covenant.


This is charitable reading of what Suprenant wrote, to be sure. And if Sungenis had been half this charitable with Bishop Rhoades, there would be no problem. But let’s apply the extreme hermeneutic of suspicion that Sungenis applied to Bishop Rhoades:

+ Does Suprenant’s very brief statement satisfy the requirements within Sungenis’ three statements for Bishop Rhoades to affirm or deny? No.

+ Sungenis claims above that Suprenant wrote that “the Mosaic covenant has been abrogated”. But did Suprenant write this? No. Suprenant actually wrote that “the Mosaic law has been abrogated.” Clearly, Suprenant is being cagey…unless he may possibly be of assistance to Sungenis. Then he and Sungenis are in full agreement.

+ Sungenis claims above that Suprenant wrote that the Mosaic covenant has been “replaced by the New Covenant”. But did Suprenant write this? No. Those were not Suprenant’s actual words.

+ The reader will notice that Suprenant never uses those absolutely critical words that Sungenis insists upon from Forrest and Bishop Rhoades: “revoked” and “superseded”. Neither does Suprenant himself use the word “valid” in an explicit denial thereof. Suprenant used the same types of words that Bishop Rhoades used, but didn’t go as far, saying nothing about evangelization of Jews, Dominus Iesus or Redemptoris Missio.

Yet, Sungenis reached the immediate conclusion that he and Suprenant agree. No such charity for Bishop Rhoades. And the reason seems quite plain. Sungenis believes that Leon Suprenant may still be useful to him, but Bishop Rhoades no longer is.

h) Cardinal Kasper:

Amazingly, Sungenis has even deemed the following statement by Cardinal Kasper to prove that he “repudiates dual covenant theology.” (Cardinal Kasper Repudiates Dual Covenant Theology, BTF News Alert, April 2008) Unlike Bishop Rhoades, Cardinal Kasper has certainly made questionable statements about the dual covenant issue in the past (Article 1 and Article 2, page 18)

Yet, based on this statement (link), Sungenis was completely satisfied. Were Sungenis’ three personally concocted statements of orthodoxy for Bishop Rhoades satisfied? No. Did Cardinal Kasper use the words Sungenis claims to find so critical: “valid”, “superseded” or “revoked”? No.


Sungenis vs. Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI:

Sungenis has repeatedly attempted to enlist Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI’s support in regard to Jewish issues, making it appear as though they are in full agreement with one another. But the fact is that there are significant differences between Sungenis and Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. A few of them are illustrated directly below.

1) Are the Jews Still the Chosen People?

Robert Sungenis says “no”:

“The Jews, as a race, are no longer the chosen people of God”
(CAITJ, p. 4)

“It was God Himself who cut off Israel from being His chosen people" (Article)


Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI says “yes”:

Question: “God has not, then, retracted his word that Israel is the Chosen People?” Cardinal Ratzinger: “No, because he is faithful.” (GW, p. 150)

“It is in God’s hands, of course, just in what way, when and how the reuniting of Jews and Gentiles, the reunification of God’s people, will be achieved.” (GW, p. 150, emphasis added)


Note, here we see then-Cardinal Ratzinger address the Jews as “God’s people” along with the Gentiles. This quote also draws out a difficulty that has been documented at length: Sungenis’ tendency to think in terms of a more Protestant either/or rather than the Catholic both/and. Below the reader will find another quote from then-Cardinal Ratzinger affirming this “both/and” approach:

“this means that all nations, without the abolishment of the special mission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the Chosen People; they become People of God with Israel through adherence to the will of God and through acceptance of the Davidic kingdom.” (MROC, p. 28, emphasis added)



2) Should Catholics expect the Jews, as a people, to be restored alongside the Gentiles in their relationship with God?

Robert Sungenis says “no”:

The unbelief of the Jews, by God's design, will continue right up until the end, and only a remnant out of Jewry will be saved (Article)

the ‘hardening’ God has cast upon the Jews at large for their general unbelief will remain until the end of time… (CASB 2, p. 139)

when the NT period came, God stopped ‘restoring’ Israel. That is why the Church took over, and Israel hasn't been ‘restored’ since. And there are no more ‘promises’ that they will be restored. God already has been faithful. (Article)


Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict says “yes”:

As Christians, we believe that [the Jews] will in the end be together with us in Christ. (GW, p. 150)

We are in fact waiting for the moment when Israel, too, will say Yes to Christ… (GW, p. 150, emphasis added)


Note: the question is not “if” but “when.” And one will also notice that Cardinal Ratzinger writes about a “moment” when Israel will say “yes”. This also does not square with Sungenis’ concept of “all Israel” as solely a mere trickle-remnant that will continuously come to Christ over the millennia until the end of the world.

It is in God’s hands, of course, just in what way, when, and how the reuniting of Jews and Gentiles, the reunification of God’s people, will be achieved. (GW, p. 150)


Note: again, the question is not whether the Jewish people will be restored alongside the Gentiles so that we are united as one people, but “what way, when and how.”

3) Is it permissible for a Catholic to say that Israel is the "Olive Tree" of Romans 11?

Robert Sungenis says “no”:

“The root is Christ, not Israel.” (Judaizers in The Catholic Church)

“Dispensationalism mistakenly believes that Israel is the Olive Tree. . . But the context of Romans 11 indicates that Christ is the Olive Tree and Israel is but a mere branch that was broken off for its unbelief but can be grafted back into the Tree…this was also the constant teaching of the Fathers of the Church” (CASB 2, p. 149)


Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict says “yes”:

to be grafted through [Jesus] onto the ‘olive tree Israel’, the children of Abraham. (MROC, p. 32)


The careful reader may recall that Sungenis berated David Moss of the Association of Hebrew Catholics for exhibiting Jewish arrogance simply because he expressed the same thing as the Holy Father (along with the CCC §755 and more than one Father of the Church, see this article). Sungenis also dishonestly declared that it was “the constant teaching of the Fathers of the Church” that Christ is the Olive Tree. (CASB 2, p. 149. See also #5)

For a fuller treatment of this issue, read The Root of Romans 11 and also The Theology of Prejudice.

4) Are the Jewish people still “Israel,” even now?

Robert Sungenis says: No.

The Church is the New Israel and the New Jerusalem, for the old Israel and the Old Jerusalem have passed.
(Article, p. 9)


Cardinal Ratzinger says: Yes.

The way that this tiny people, who no longer have any country, no longer any independent existence, but lead their life scattered throughout the world, yet despite this keep their own religion, keep their own identity; they are still Israel, the way the Jews are still Jews and are still a people, even during the two thousand years when they had no country, this is an absolute riddle. This phenomenon in itself shows us that something else is at work here. (GW, p. 148)

. . . a new vision of the relationship between the Church and Israel has been born: a sincere willingness to overcome every kind of anti-Judaism and to initiate a constructive dialogue based on knowledge of each other, and on reconciliation. If such a dialogue is to be fruitful, it must begin with a prayer to our God, first of all that he might grant to us Christians a greater esteem and love for that people, the people of Israel, to whom belong “the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs are the patriarchs, and from them comes Christ according to the flesh, he who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:4-5), and this not only in the past, but still today, “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29) (Cardinal Ratzinger, "The Heritage of Abraham", L’Osservatore Romano, 29 December, 2000).


Again, Sungenis seems to have difficulty with the Catholic “both/and.” Cardinal Ratzinger helps to explain the Catholic view:

“But this does not mean that there is nothing more to be said about…‘Israel according to the flesh.’” (MROC, p. 69)


The Jewish people are Israel according to the flesh and the Church is spiritual Israel.

5) Do the Jewish people retain a special relationship with God and unique role in salvation history, even when they have not converted to Catholicism?

Robert Sungenis says “no” (although, it seems that he actually does believe a special relationship persists and they have a unique role, but he either does not realize it or avoids admitting it: see below):

…on a national and ethnic basis, God is done with Israel. (Point/Counterpoint, p. 7)

[the Jews are] the same as everyone else in the world. (MRBR, p. 9)

Again, it is all based on the false premise that God still has some special relationship with the Jews…The Jews are no different than any other group of people on the face of the earth. There are no “special relationships” with God based on one’s ethnic background or heritage. Those who promote themselves based on some special divine privilege (the Jews) are wrong… (Article)


Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict says “yes”:

You can see…that there is something more than mere historical chance at work. The great powers of that period have all disappeared. Israel remains – and shows us something of the steadfastness of God, something indeed of his mystery. (GW, p. 148)

…hand in hand with this belief goes the other, that Israel still has a mission to accomplish today. (GW, p. 149)

…we also know that while history still runs its course even this standing at the door fulfills a mission, one that is important for the world. In that way this people still has a special place in God’s plans (GW, p. 150)

If such a dialogue is to be fruitful, it must begin with a prayer to our God, first of all that he might grant to us Christians a greater esteem and love for that people, the people of Israel, to whom belong “the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs are the patriarchs, and from them comes Christ according to the flesh, he who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:4-5), and this not only in the past, but still today, “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29) (Cardinal Ratzinger, "The Heritage of Abraham", L’Osservatore Romano, 29 December, 2000).


As a final note, there is another pertinent quote in God and the World that Sungenis might take to heart:

That does not mean that we have to force Christ upon [the Jewish people] but that we should share in the patience of God. We also have to try to live our life together in Christ in such a way that it no longer stands in opposition to them or would be unacceptable to them but so that it facilitates their own approach to it. (GW, p. 150)


In the statement above, then-Cardinal Ratzinger conveyed something that one of Sungenis’ colleagues somewhat echoed recently:

I have to agree with my fellow pro-life attorney…a Jewish convert to the Faith with thirteen children, who wonders why some traditionalists seem less interested in attracting Jews to the Church than in shaking their fists at them.
(Article)


Fr. King’s Alleged “Statement” About Supersessionism:

A truthful witness does not lie, but a false witness utters lies. ~ Prov. 14:5

One of Sungenis’ most common deceptions throughout this controversy is the sleight of hand. When one is accused of writing or saying something that one has not written or said, most people will immediately bring forth the actual, verbatim record as proof. Not Sungenis. He prefers to substitute paraphrases and characterizations occasionally mixed with a partial quote of what he or his critics have written instead. And there’s a good reason for this: the actual record doesn’t say what he needs it to say.

Because Sungenis has no primary evidence that Bishop Rhoades subscribes to the dual covenant error, he was left grasping at the illegitimate straws of innuendo and guilt by association in order to “prove” his case. In this particular instance, he attempted to use a statement allegedly made by Fr. King, the Vicar General of the diocese of Harrisburg.

This is what Sungenis wrote in two sections of his latest article, My Response to Bishop Rhoades (MRBR):

in my Culture Wars article (as well as the updated version that appears on our website at www.catholicintl.com), I said that the bishop’s vicar general, Fr. William King, made the following statement to me and Thomas Herron at our August 2007 meeting in Harrisburg: “we do not believe in supersessionism any longer." (page 4)


and

At this point I must reiterate that, after hearing the bishop’s vicar general, Fr. King, state at our August 2007 meeting: “we do not believe in supersessionism any longer,…" (page 9)


But is this an honest representation of what Sungenis actually wrote in his original article, The Old Covenant, Revoked or Not Revoked (OCRNR)? No. Here is what Sungenis actually wrote:

During the meeting, the vicar general, Fr. William King, JCD, made a remark to the effect that, as Catholics, “we don’t believe in supersessionism any longer.” (OCRNR, P. 11, emphasis added)


Sungenis’ omission of these crucial words was no accident. He was trying to rewrite history in order to make it appear as though he was certain that Fr. King made this verbatim “statement” about supersessionism. In fact, the written record proves conclusively that Sungenis was not sure. He originally claimed merely that Fr. King made a “remark to the effect that”…Will Sungenis now tell us that his recollection of a meeting that took place eight months ago suddenly became more certain over the past couple of months?

Again, in a similar situation with Michael Forrest, Sungenis has admitted that his memory is less than stellar in regard to such details. And he lied about the evidence in that case as well in order to bolster his false claims. The pertinent information may be reviewed above in the section The Real Reason Sungenis Turned On Bishop Rhoades.

And as previously mentioned, even if Fr. King did indeed say exactly what Sungenis claims, we still would need to know what he means by “supersessionism”. If he understands it in the extreme way that Sungenis appears to—namely, that there is no special place whatsoever for ethnic Israel in salvation history after the coming of Jesus Christ—then it is perfectly acceptable to say that we, as Catholics, do not believe that. It is not as if the term "supersessionism" has a fixed, Catholic definition. In fact, we have seen no evidence of this term appearing in any Catholic dictionary, encyclopedia, catechism or any other authoritative source.

In addition, a new inconsistency in Sungenis’ story has come to light. Thomas Herron, who came to the diocesan meeting with Fr. King and Fr. Massa at Sungenis’ request, wrote a nine page article “Fear of the Jews in Harrisburg” (Culture Wars, October 2007). In this article, Herron covered even minute details of the meeting. And what does Herron have to say on this particular issue? Does he mention what would surely have been a significant statement by Fr. King? No. In fact, he says something quite different:

“At the time I joined the discussions it appeared that it had been determined that Mr. Sungenis’ orthodoxy was not in question…” (page 13)

“Mr. Sungenis’ Catholic orthodoxy was not in question during this meeting…” (page 14)


So, how does Sungenis reconcile Herron’s account with his own claim that Fr. King made a statement in front of both Herron and himself that his teaching on the doctrine of supersessionism was wrong?

Not only did Herron not mention this alleged statement that one certainly would have expected him to mention, but he made two statements (quoted above) that appear to be in direct conflict with Sungenis’ account.

There are also several other problems with Sungenis’ allegation that he failed to even address at all (scroll down to “Evidence #3”). After reviewing all of the facts, it will become plain that Sungenis’ “evidence” in this instance is far more damaging to himself than to anyone else.

The Selectively Quoted Correspondence from Bishop Rhoades:

For those who have followed Sungenis’ latest controversies, another pattern is beginning to emerge: namely, Sungenis’ self-serving, selective quotation of letters sent by Bishop Rhoades and the USCCB.

In late 2006, Sungenis began to be questioned by his patrons about the fact that his CASB lacked an imprimatur, after presumptuously assuring everyone that it would have one. And in answer to these questions, he mischaracterized the reasons the USCCB had given for the rejection by omitting important information. (Article)

And then, in 2007, new concerns were raised because Sungenis was still selling this unauthorized translation of the Scriptures in apparent violation of canon law. In this case, Sungenis and two of his volunteers set about giving another characterization of the letter he had received from the USCCB rather than making the letter public so that people could judge for themselves. The defense they offered was essentially that the USCCB had given Sungenis a free pass because of a canon law technicality. He was free to go ahead and sell it as is, even with the name “Catholic” on it, according to the team at CAI. (Article)

However, as pressure built, eventually Sungenis published the entire letter and did what he could to “spin” it. But it was plain to even his supporters that he had mischaracterized its contents. He was not given any kind of free pass by the USCCB, he had merely jumped to that convenient conclusion himself. Additionally, the other reason for Sungenis’ rejection by the USCCB came out. The details of the story can be found here: Article.

In light of all this, one is perfectly justified in questioning Sungenis’ characterization of his correspondence with Bishop Rhoades. He has very selectively quoted from the Bishop’s letters and even these quotes do not comport with Sungenis’ story.

Why doesn’t Sungenis simply publish the letters in their entirety? Certainly, it is plain that he is not worried about Bishop Rhoades’ reputation. And one highly doubts that Bishop Rhoades would care. The only one who seems to care is Robert Sungenis. In fact, Thomas Herron, the friend who Sungenis invited to the meeting with Fr. King and Fr. Massa, has said openly that even he has never seen these letters. ("Fear of the Jews in Harrisburg", Culture Wars October 2007, p. 12). Why is Sungenis being so secretive with them?

Could it be that these letters don’t quite support the characterizations he’s given to date?

Any Excuse to Attack My Bishop Will Do:

Perhaps one of the more deplorable attempts Sungenis made to justify new attacks on Bishop Rhoades came on pages 2 and 11:

“Since Bishop Rhoades has made his views public and apparently gave Mr. Forrest permission to advertise his position on the Internet in full view of the public, I feel likewise obliged to respond in public to him and Mr. Forrest through this essay.” (MRBR, p 2)

“since Bishop Rhoades has made his views public in a postal letter, and apparently gave his permission to have those views advertised on the Internet, I have the canonical right to point out these contrary arguments to him and the Catholic public, which come both from both [sic] Scripture and Canon Law.” (MRBR, page 11)


Clearly, a review is in order. As already documented here, it was none other than Sungenis himself and his friend Thomas Herron who publicly exposed what Bishop Rhoades attempted to handle with discretion. And yet on two occasions, once in early July 2007 and once in January 2008, Sungenis publicly smeared his bishop with unsubstantiated allegations, namely: Bishop Rhoades holds to a false doctrine, is “attempting to propagate” this error to “unsuspecting Catholics”, has greater “allegiances” to Jewish causes than to the Catholic faith and is attempting to stop Sungenis from thwarting this pernicious error.

As such, exactly what does Sungenis propose to offer as justification for these first public attacks on Bishop Rhoades? At each of those junctures, the bishop hadn’t written a word in public at all about Sungenis.

Remarkably, now that Bishop Rhoades has responded with great restraint to questions Forrest posed in order to give His Excellency an opportunity to clear himself of the slanderous charges Sungenis first made, Sungenis has the nerve to argue that this somehow justifies more public salvos against His Excellency.


Page 131 of the USCCA:

In OCRNR, another piece of Sungenis’ “evidence” that Bishop Rhoades holds to the dual covenant theory was that His Excellency referred to page 131 of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults in the process of denying an imprimatur to Sungenis’ “Catholic Apologetics Study Bible” (CASB2). In this section of the USCCA, there is a potentially problematic, certainly confusing, sentence that deals with the status of the Old Covenant. No one who has criticized Sungenis disputes that this sentence is potentially problematic or confusing, including Bishop Rhoades. Yet, Sungenis jumped to the convenient (and baseless) conclusion that this is precisely the sentence that Bishop Rhoades meant to focus upon when denying an imprimatur to his CASB2 and that His Excellency holds to the most problematic interpretation of it.

The most obvious difficulty for Sungenis’ interpretation of this reference made by Bishop Rhoades has already been documented at length and Sungenis simply ignored this evidence: This section of the USCCA contains six sentences, not one. And his CASB2 most certainly does run afoul of those six sentences. (Article) Apparently treating this as simply another debate to “win”, Sungenis sought out what he considered the weakest area to attack and hoped people wouldn’t notice that he skipped right over the primary argument against him on this particular point.

However, while he has ignored the most obvious problem with his interpretation of events in this case, we will nevertheless address the one aspect he conveniently chose to focus upon. And even here, Sungenis’ willingness to engage in duplicity and hypocrisy in order to take another swipe at Bishop Rhoades will become evident. In MRBR, Sungenis makes the following absolutist, condemnatory statements about page 131 of the USCCA and Bishop Rhoades’ reaction to it.

Bishop Rhoades says that he understands why the statement on page 131 of the USCCA “might be misunderstood.” That is, indeed, an understatement…That being the case, I sincerely question Bishop Rhoades’ ability to judge this issue with any theological accuracy. Page 131 of the USCCA is a simple black and white issue. Either the Old Covenant remains eternally valid for the Jewish people or it does not. There is no in-between state in which the Old Covenant can exist. (pages 7-8)

we can only conclude that the authors of the USCCA believe that the Mosaic covenant, the Old Covenant, has never been revoked from the Jews… (emphasis added, pages 7-8)

there is nothing to “misunderstand” about the USCCA’s statement on page 131… (pages 7-8)

Anyone who…tries to whitewash the USCCA’s error must be in collusion with the USCCB. (emphasis added, pages 7-8)

All Catholics should be anathematizing the USCCA instead of making excuses for it, including Bishop Rhoades. (emphasis added, Page 11)


There are two primary observations that should be made:

1) Michael Forrest asked Bishop Rhoades a very specific question as to whether His Excellency interpreted anything on page 131 in the way that Sungenis simply assumed he interpreted it. And this is why his answer was narrowly focused. His Excellency was not invited to give a treatise on this section of the USCCA and he didn’t need to in order to neutralize Sungenis’ false charge in this instance.

2) In his newest article (MRBR), Sungenis made it absolutely clear that there is only one way to understand this one sentence on page 131 of the USCCA: his way. There is simply “nothing to misunderstand.” It is a “simple black and white issue.” Sungenis even went so far as to clearly imply that anyone who even suggests the possibility of another interpretation is guilty of “white-washing” and “making excuses”. Furthermore, this is proof that such a one “must be in collusion with the USCCB.” These are strong words, indeed.

Ironically, these strong words stand in condemnation of Sungenis himself. In his “Letter to Cardinal Levada” at the Vatican about this very sentence, Sungenis wrote:

“Unless I am misunderstanding the words or the intent of the United States Catechism…” (emphasis added: see page 3)

But, according to Sungenis, it is not even possible to misunderstand this section of the USCCA. It is “a simple black and white issue”, and “all Catholics” can “only conclude” the worst interpretation, Sungenis’ interpretation.

And so, Sungenis now stands convicted by his own strict standards of being schismatic and a Judaizing white-washer who is in collusion with the USCCB.

3) Will Sungenis condemn Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict for giving the possible impression that the Old Covenant is still valid to at least some extent in his book, God and the World (the word “valid” is specifically used by then-Cardinal Ratzinger)? (See section above: Cardinal Ratzinger: God and the World)

4) The only open question is whether it first dawned on Sungenis that Bishop Rhoades may have been exercising prudent restraint and respect in addressing potential issues with the USCCA (especially in this less-than-optimal context) or whether it did dawn on Sungenis but he couldn’t resist taking a cheap shot, even it if was hypocritical and duplicitous. After all, it is evident that Sungenis understands the value of such a measured, respectful statement, at least when he is trying to persuade people at the Vatican.

But again, let’s recall that this is not even the key aspect of this particular issue. The key aspect (which Sungenis ignored) is that this section of the USCCA contains six sentences, not one. And Sungenis most certainly does run afoul of those sentences. Yet Sungenis conveniently fixated solely upon the one sentence where he thought he could gain at least some traction.

Always Certain of Himself:

The wise man is cautious and shuns evil; the fool is reckless and sure of himself. ~ Prov. 14:16

In regard to Sungenis’ theological teaching about the Jews, even Sungenis himself flip-flops twice in how he treats a statement from John Paul II, although, as always, he was completely certain of himself each time he commented.

In 2005, Sungenis simply took it for granted that John Paul II’s statement about the “the Old Covenant, never revoked by God” was simply wrong, period, because of JPII’s faulty application of Romans 11. (Article 1 and Article 2). At the time, he stated this as a fact.

But then, in July, 2007 he changed his mind. He wrote:

“Accordingly, the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 121, and John Paul II’s 1980 speech in Mainz, Germany, of which both contain a clause stating that the Old Covenant is not revoked, was not intended by either authority to apply to the Old Covenant legal system that God made with the nation of Israel, but merely as a synonym for the Old Testament Scriptures which, because they are God’s continuing and inerrant revelation to man, will abide for all peoples until the end of time. The context of both the 1994 Catechism and John Paul II’s speech make this meaning and intention clear if read correctly. Unfortunately, both the Catechism and John Paul II’s speech have been greatly misunderstood” (CAITJ, p. 3, emphasis added)


So now, according to Sungenis, the Pope wasn’t actually wrong after all and it is “quite clear” what John Paul II meant here: the Old Covenant is a synonym for the Old Testament Scriptures as a whole. And other people have “greatly misunderstood” him. This is quite a shift from the Pope being obviously wrong. The reader will note that Sungenis refrained from admitting that he himself was wrong in his prior interpretation of the Pope’s words.

Then, several months after this statement, which he included in the letter he sent to the Vatican, he decided that he got it wrong once again. But, he assures his readers, this time he is really certain that he has it figured out and that John Paul II “clearly stated” that he was actually speaking about the Abrahamic Covenant (OCRNR, p. 18):

The simple fact is, John Paul II has never said that his statement, “the Old Covenant, never revoked by God” referred to the Mosaic covenant, and neither did any of his post-Vatican II predecessors. He has clearly stated that his use of the phrase “Old Covenant” was in reference to the Abrahamic covenant and no other. (OCRNR, p. 18)

Until recently, I believed that John Paul II’s reference to the Old Covenant referred to the Old Testament Scriptures, since he finished his sentence with “that is to say, between the first and the second part of her Bible,” but I have discovered that this is not the correct view of his meaning, as we will see. (OCRNR, p. 14)


One will note that Sungenis obviously downplayed the certainty of his original assertion that John Paul II was speaking about the Old Testament. But the record is plain: there was no equivocation, no “I think”, “I believe”, “it seems” in his original statements on the matter. Sungenis asserted it as a fact, insisting that it was “quite clear” but that other people have “greatly misunderstood” John Paul II.

And this was precisely one of the reasons that Sungenis asked Forrest to edit his work, at least for a while. This is far from an isolated event. Sungenis has a long track record of stating his opinions as though they are facts. And then he glosses over his erroneous pronouncements and seems to expect everyone else to as well.

For additional discussion of Sungenis’ confusing and contradictory treatment of this issue: Article.

And of course, this doesn’t even contemplate the fact that Sungenis has insisted on portraying himself as some sort of expert on Jewish social, ethnic, political and religious issues over the last six years. He has slandered virtually everyone who has seriously criticized him in this regard. Yet, now, we are essentially treated to: Ooops…maybe I really didn’t know what I was talking about after all. Or maybe you oversensitive Jews and philosemitic types just couldn’t understand my teaching, I’m not quite sure which. Be that as it may, I still believe most of what I wrote about Jews. Regardless, you people need to just get past all of this and pretend I genuinely apologized for and disavowed everything. (Article 1 and Article 2)

It seems clear that we can expect one thing: Robert Sungenis will continue to be absolutely certain he is right, no matter how many times he is wrong.

Leon Suprenant’s False Charges?

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who are truthful are his delight. ~ Prov. 12:22

Sungenis wrote:

“Although Mr. Suprenant begins his remarks by making some personal charges against me, I will simply ignore them. All I will say is that they are untrue, all of them.” (p. 3, MRBR).


And what exactly did Leon Suprenant write?

“These statements [that Sungenis made about Bishop Rhoades] have arisen in the context of Sungenis’ writings concerning Judaism and the Jewish people, which many, including Bishop Rhoades, have found to be hostile, uncharitable, and un-Christian in their tone and erroneous in their content. Further, such writings, while purporting to present authentic Catholic teaching, do not follow the teaching and approach of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI on this subject.” (Article)


How can Sungenis say these charges are untrue? Everything that Leon Suprenant wrote is a documented fact. In the letter Bishop Rhoades wrote to Michael Forrest, His Excellency judged Sungenis’ work in precisely this way. In fact, Suprenant’s characterization is almost a verbatim quote of Bishop Rhoades. And it is a documented fact that many others view Sungenis’ writings in essentially this same way…most remarkably, including Sungenis himself, at least a few months ago.

Back in July, 2007, Sungenis wrote:

[Bishop Rhoades, Fr. King and Fr. Massa] provided me various examples in which I have crossed the line into inappropriate language and accusations and I communicated to them my agreement with their overall assessment. (CAITJ, p. 2)


Sungenis also said explicitly that his Jewish material was being completely removed at least until it could be re-written with a “’human and Christian spirit’ (c. 822, 2-3), both in its content and in its tone.” (ibid, p. 2)

And of his anti-Jewish tone and content, Sungenis himself acknowledged:

“It caused confusion regarding what is and is not the authentic position of the Catholic Church towards the Jewish people.” (ibid, p 1)


But now, according to Sungenis, this is suddenly all completely false?

Again, this only further illustrates the treacherous nature of the problem. Sungenis is apparently willing to say and do anything in order to “win”, even if it means completely contradicting himself and attempting to rewrite history.

One Standard for Me, Another for Thee:

Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy and all slander… ~ 1 Peter 2:1

Below are several more quotes that bring to light Sungenis’ hypocrisy and self-centeredness. With him, there always seems to be one standard for me, another for thee:

they accuse me of the most sinister motives; (MRBR: p 1)


No one has used the word “sinister”. But cynical, duplicitous and self-serving? Yes, because his behavior has been just so throughout this controversy. Yet, one may reasonably ask, what exactly did Sungenis think he was doing when he accused Bishop Rhoades of having greater allegiances to Jewish causes than the Catholic faith? (OCRNR, p. 12) Or what exactly was he up to when he accused Jews of trying to take over the world and the Catholic Church? How about when he raged about the “anti-Christ, anti-Catholic and anti-Christian influence that various Jewish organizations are having on us, including but not limited to . . . the Association of Hebrew Catholics (e.g., David Moss, Roy Schoeman, etc.), and any other such organization that puts Jewish political, religious and social interests above those of the Catholic faith and the rest of the world.” Or when he accused Jews of sending in Monica Lewinsky to bring Bill Clinton down? Were those expressions of deep affection and admiration?

they twist and distort various events that have occurred in the past (MRBR, p. 1)


False. We document Sungenis’ revisionism, falsehoods and distortions by referring to the actual record. And again, he has done that about which he complains in spades against Bishop Rhoades and the Jewish people.

The only answer I will give them is the warning Jesus gave in Matthew 12:36: ‘Every careless word that men utter shall be given account thereof in the day of judgment,” and canon law 220, which states: “No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy. (MRBR, p. 2)


We feel at ease in light of Sungenis’ prophetic warnings, but he might want to be careful, because once again his words only seem to condemn him. He is guilty of precisely these things in regard to great many people, including (but not limited to) Roy Schoeman, David Moss, Albert Einstein, the Jewish people collectively, Michael Forrest, Leon Suprenant, Ben Douglass, Jacob Michael, and now Bishop Rhoades.

…because I have taken a strong stand on the revocation of the Old Covenant and have implicated various clerics and layman for not upholding this doctrine, the usual suspects have written all kinds of slanderous things on various blog sites in order to denigrate me in the public eye…As usual, they are beside themselves with anguish. They are in blogger-world wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth against me. You can almost see the hatred and jealously dripping from their typed texts. (MRBR, p. 1)


False. Sungenis’ views of the dual covenant error aren’t at issue and they never were. But all of the vile material from white supremacists, Holocaust deniers, Nazis that he has propagated for six years? Yes, those are at issue. The fact that he has yet to issue an authentic apology and retraction for all of his calumnies? Yes, that is at issue. The fact that he continues even now to propagate such material at his website while claiming that he has abandoned it? Yes, that is at issue. The fact that he has been dishonest in regard to several other theological issues involving the Jewish people, while hypocritically behaving as the “orthodoxy police”? Yes, that’s at issue. The fact that he continues to slander his bishop in order to attempt to justify and exonerate himself? Yes, that’s at issue.

And are we gnashing our teeth? Is their hatred and jealousy “dripping from our typed texts’? Well, not last we checked. Are we deeply saddened? Disturbed? Even possibly repulsed at times? Yes. But one might well turn that around and ask Sungenis what his disposition was while writing that Jews have "infected" the Church, that they are “excised” wherever they go, that they are “Godless and getting more ungodly with each passing day”, that 95% of them despise Jesus Christ, that the charge of anti-Semitism is “nothing but a clever ploy”, that real Jews tend to be “inherently violent” and so on. Those words certainly seem to drip with hatred and might even suggest the gnashing of teeth.

Internal Contradictions in Sungenis’ Theology?

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? Matt. 7:3-5

When asked directly about the relationship between God and Israel, Sungenis is emphatic: God has no special relationship with the Jewish people, period. Jews are the same as everyone else in the world:

On a national and ethnic basis, God is done with Israel. He is now interested in Jews who want to accept Christ individually and join the Church. (Point/Counterpoint, p. 7)

[The Jews are] the same as everyone else in the world. (MRBR, p. 9)

Again, it is all based on the false premise that God still has some special relationship with the Jews…The Jews are no different than any other group of people on the face of the earth. There are no “special relationships” with God based on one’s ethnic background or heritage. Those who promote themselves based on some special divine privilege (the Jews) are wrong… (Article)


Sungenis holds a view of the Jewish people that may be described as an “extreme supersessionism.” To Sungenis, the Jewish people have been entirely replaced, have no continuing relationship with God at all, unless they convert and have no unique role to play in the remainder salvation history - unless it is at the service of Satan.

But do these generalized statements above square with his more specific views in regard to the Jewish people? No. (Much of this has been covered in The Theology of Prejudice. However, it will be re-presented directly below with a few additions for the convenience of the reader.)

Even under Sungenis’ own views, it is obvious that the Jewish people still have a unique role to play in salvation history. And it is also obvious that God still has a special concern for them as a people.

Of course, it is indisputable that He also has retained an eternal, intimate connection with the Jewish people that is not simply “in the past”. The second Person of the Holy Trinity will forever be a Jew. And He was born of a Jewish woman who we shall ever exalt as the highest, noblest and most pure creature on earth…the Queen of Heaven, Mediatrix of all Graces. These facts cannot be glossed over as of no account.

While Sungenis emphatically denies the future restoration of the Jewish people alonside the Gentiles (in contrast to the Fathers of the Church and a slew of other Catholic witnesses: article 1, article 2), he does acknowledge that God has promised to continuously bring some Jews to salvation in Christ until the Second Coming:

God has been saving Jews, and will continue to save Jews, until the end of time. (Article)

St. Paul assures us in Romans 11:1-24 that Jews will be saved right up until the Second Coming. (Michael Forrest and the Jews, p. 47)

As St. Paul said in Romans 11:5...there will be a remnant of saved Jews until the end of time. (Question 271 - Are the Jews Cursed by God?)


Apparently, he has not entirely thought through the ramifications of that promise. Has God made any such promises to the Greeks? The Italians? The Egyptians? Are any of these ethnic groups singled out and assured by God Himself that at least some of them will go to heaven in every age throughout the remainder of history? Is there any ethnic group at all aside from the Jews that have been singled out to receive such a promise? No. As such, this is clear evidence, even under Sungenis’ stingy theology, that God retains a special relationship with the Jewish people.

In fact, there was a time when Sungenis was capable of admitting that there is something special and positive about the relationship between God and the Jewish people. In 2004, while Michael Forrest was serving as Sungenis’ vice-president, the following exchange took place:

Forrest: How can you flatly disagree that St. Paul indicated in vs. 28 [Romans 11:28] that God still cares for the Jews as a genetic people by the phrase "for the sake of the Patriarchs"? What else does this passage mean?...."As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are most dear for the sake of the fathers." What else can this mean, other than that God has a particular and continuing concern for them because they descend from the patriarchs?

Sungenis: I think I was confused by your use of the word "genetic," as if there was something about being Jewish that attracted God. I think you mean to say "ethnic," not genetic. I do agree that there is an "ethnic" issue, and that God intends on saving Jews as an ethnic race of people.
(Email of April 5, 2004)


One will notice that, in direct contradiction of the first three statements at the beginning of this section, Sungenis affirmed that God continues to have an abiding interest in the salvation of Jews “as an ethnic race of people.”

And of course, if God has promised to bring Jews to salvation until the Second Coming, this leads to an inescapable conclusion: God will not allow the Jewish people to perish from the face of the earth. Sungenis himself has previously acknowledged that this is an inescapable conclusion (although he framed it from the negative viewpoint of most all Jews being hardened rather than some Jews continuing to be saved). In response to Michael Hoffman II, who subscribes to the anti-Semitic theory that today’s Jews are not really Jews at all (a theory also apparently subscribed to by Sungenis’ friend, Edgar Suter), Sungenis wrote:

March, 2007 Q and A #25:
R. Sungenis: As for usage of the term "Jews," regardless of the evidence or lack thereof that we have been able to assimilate, I form my resolve from Scripture. That is, St. Paul confirms that the "Jews," as a people, would still exist and be "hardened" until the "fullness of the Gentiles come in." Since the "fullness of the Gentiles" persists until the Second Coming, then the Jews must exist until then as well. (emphasis added)


However, over time, it appears that Sungenis began to somewhat recognize this dilemma. On the one hand, he has repeatedly acknowledged that God has promised to keep the Jewish people in existence until the Second Coming and also that He will continue to bring at least some Jews to salvation until then as well. But on the other hand, he has also married himself to the position that there is nothing special about the Jewish people anymore. They’re just like everyone else (except for believing that only a few of them will be saved and the rest are essentially agents of Satan). And as such, he apparently set about trying to reconcile this contradiction. In My Response to Bishop Rhoades, Sungenis wrote:

…what are we supposed to understand by the phrase “special relationship”? The word “special” does not have any theological or spiritual meaning. It is an ambiguous term that has no place in these discussions. If Bishop Rhoades would like to say, instead, that the Jews are “beloved” of God, as Romans 11:28 says, he would then have made a correct statement…In Romans 11:28, St. Paul says only that the Jews are beloved “for the sake of the fathers,” not for the sake of the Old Covenant. The “fathers” are the people of ancient Israel who accepted God and the salvation he offered, such as Abraham (Rom 4:1-24). The “fathers” were faithful to God and, as Jesus said of Abraham, “looked forward to My day” (John 8:56), the day of the New Covenant in His blood (Luke 1:71-77). Because of the undying faith of the “fathers,” God promised not to cut off the Jews entirely when Christ came. Because of the promise to the “fathers,” God still offers the Jews the same salvation that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were offered. Conversely, God, because of the Jews’ constant disobedience in the Old Testament, could have totally rejected them, never again offering them salvation. But because of the faithfulness of the “fathers,” God showed mercy to the Jews and thus still allowed them to come to salvation, the same as everyone else in the world. This is precisely St. Paul’s argument in the opening lines of Romans 11:1-5, and he points to his own salvation as proof of the mercy God is still extending to the Jews, if they will only listen and convert…God’s love brought the Jews face to face with the New Covenant, and it is now up to them to accept that gracious gift. In effect, God loves the Jews because of the New Covenant, not because of the Old Covenant. (MRBR, pp. 8-9)


First, it should be noted again that the Holy Father himself described the “special place” the Jewish people still have with God when he was head of the CDF (see section above: Cardinal Ratzinger: God and the World). Yet, Sungenis felt the need to chastise Bishop Rhoades for his use of this term.

Second, the reader will note that Sungenis quickly moved on to objecting because Bishop Rhoades did not draw a distinction between the Old Covenant/Moses and The Fathers of Israel. Sungenis noted that St. Paul did not write that Israel was loved because of the Old Covenant/Moses but for the sake of The Fathers of Israel (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). However, remarkably, by the end of his argument, Sungenis managed to make his own substitution for St. Paul’s actual words. According to Sungenis, what St. Paul actually said was: God loves the Jews because of the New Covenant.

Regardless, it appears that Sungenis’ attempt to reconcile his contradictory positions boils down to this: the expression of God’s great love for The Fathers of Israel is that He stopped just barely short of damning all Jews in the future to hell. A small trickle of them will be saved, while almost all of them will be damned. And Sungenis would have us believe that this led a Jew named St. Paul to gush thusly about God's mercy and wisdom, "by virtue of the mercy shown to you [Gentiles], they [Jews] may now receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Rom. 11:31-33)

The problem, of course, is that Sungenis’ new argument in MRBR does not actually resolve the contradiction: God continues to do much more than that for the Jewish people, and Sungenis himself has repeatedly acknowledged that fact - much as he may try to minimize or ignore it now. Again, even according to Sungenis’ stingy theology, God has promised that Jews will continue to be saved through every age until the Second Coming. This is obviously more than merely allowing Jews the opportunity to be saved. And by extension, God has promised that the Jewish people will continue to exist as a recognizable ethnic group until that time as well. No other ethnic group in the world has received such assurances from God.

It seems that Sungenis is also aware that this reality poses another closely-related problem. God made a currently operative promise to people who are not Catholic – the Jews. If the Jewish people are cut off from God unless they become Catholic – as Sungenis would have it - then how is God maintaining this unique bond/promise with these non-Catholic Jews?

Again, perhaps Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict’s thinking – which takes St. Paul at face value – may be of some help:

. . . a new vision of the relationship between the Church and Israel has been born: a sincere willingness to overcome every kind of anti-Judaism and to initiate a constructive dialogue based on knowledge of each other, and on reconciliation. If such a dialogue is to be fruitful, it must begin with a prayer to our God, first of all that he might grant to us Christians a greater esteem and love for that people, the people of Israel, to whom belong “the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs are the patriarchs, and from them comes Christ according to the flesh, he who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:4-5), and this not only in the past, but still today, “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29) (Cardinal Ratzinger, "The Heritage of Abraham", L’Osservatore Romano, 29 December, 2000).


And

…all nations, without the abolishment of the special mission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the Chosen People; they become People of God with Israel. (MROC, pp. 27-28)


Additionally, one may notice another familiar incongruence. On the one hand, Sungenis claims, “The Jews are no different than any other group of people on the face of the earth. There are no ‘special relationships’ with God based on one’s ethnic background or heritage.” (Article, page 2) But on the other hand he claims:

"The whole tenor of the New Testament is that God is finally rejecting the Jews (except for a remnant)...God is giving up on the Jews. In the language of John 6:44, God is no longer going to draw them to Jesus. In fact, God will become active in keeping them in unbelief by blinding them to the truth (Romans 11:8). That is the kind of God we have; a very dynamic God...and the Jews will die in their unbelief. (Article)

"the ‘hardening’ God has cast upon the Jews at large for their general unbelief will remain until the end of time…" (CASB 2, p. 139)

"The unbelief of the Jews, by God's design, will continue right up until the end, and only a remnant out of Jewry will be saved."
(Article).


As such, it seems clear that what Sungenis really means is that there are no special positive relationships with God based on one’s ethnic background or heritage. Because he seems quite comfortable insisting that the Jewish people have a special negative relationship with God, wherein they will be actively hardened by Him until the Second Coming to the point that only a trickle of them will ever be saved at any time. Furthermore, this would also seem to contradict his claim in MRBR that “God showed mercy to the Jews and thus still allowed them to come to salvation, the same as everyone else in the world.” (emphasis added) If the Jews, as a people, will be actively hardened until the end of the world without reprieve; if God has rejected them, one can hardly say that their condition relative to salvation is “the same as everyone else in the world.” Again, it appears that if something is negative about Jews, Sungenis readily embraces it. If it is positive, he rushes to oppose it.

Of course, this does not even contemplate Sungenis’ other theological problems, some of which have already been documented at this blog: The Theology of Prejudice

A Study in Contrasts:

Let another praise you – not your own mouth; someone else – not your own lips. ~ Prov. 27:2

Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be humble with the meek than to share plunder with the proud. ~ Prov. 16:18-19

A) The humility and courage of the Pope in Regard to Jewish Issues vs. Robert Sungenis

In regard to the relationship between the Jewish people and the Church, then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the following in, Many Religions, One Covenant: Israel, the Church and the World:

False simplifications only do damage to the dialogue with the religions and to the dialogue with the Jewish faith…The four chapters of this little book arose from just such concrete occasions. I need hardly say that they are no more than slight and tentative approaches to the great topic; however, fragmentary as they are, they can perhaps promote the questioning process. I myself would not have had the temerity to put them together into a book; but I did not want to reject the invitation to do so that came to me…My hope is that this tiny opus, with all its limitations, can help us to a better understanding of the message that the one Bible addresses to us. (pp. 19-20)


Conversely, this is how Robert Sungenis views his contributions:

Instead of applauding my Culture Wars essay for finally and definitively showing Catholics worldwide that the Old Covenant has been revoked and superseded by the New Testament and therefore no longer remains valid for the Jews; instead of applauding the fact that I clearly showed, amidst all the confusion for the past 25 years, that John Paul II, in his 1981 Mainz speech, never meant or intended to convey that the Mosaic covenant was never revoked but that the Abrahamic covenant, for both Jew and Gentile, remains unrevoked; instead of applauding the fact that I documented numerous Jewish individuals, Jewish groups, and their ideological sympathizers in their attempts to undermine Catholic doctrine on the Old and New Covenants by their outright rejection of supersessionism ; …instead of applauding the reams of magisterial, scriptural and patristic evidence I uncovered showing that the Old Covenant has been revoked, what is the reaction from my “Catholic” opponents? As usual, they are beside themselves with anguish. They are in blogger-world wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth against me. You can almost see the hatred and jealously dripping from their typed texts.


The bottom line is this: if anyone teaches that the Old Covenant remains valid for the Jews; that the Old Covenant is not revoked and is not superseded by the New Covenant, it is vehemently suspect of heresy, plain and simple. I will not stop saying so unless the pope himself, in an ex cathedra statement, tells me that the Old Covenant is not revoked. Of course, that will never happen, because unlike many bishops, priests and laymen who are teaching the opposite, Pope Benedict XVI is on my side of the theological fence, since he has clearly taught in the past and maintains today that the Old Covenant has been superseded by the New, and thus the Old Covenant no longer remains valid for the Jews. As for their malicious attacks against me, I will not be answering them. I will let the good Lord be their judge. (MRBR, pp. 1-2)


Remarkably, directly after this rather extended self-tribute and denigration of his critics, he went on to write:

I am not in this either to protect my own reputation, uplift myself, or to denigrate anyone else. (MRBR, p. 2)


How can one even begin to respond to that?

The contrast is stark. Where Sungenis would presume to play the part of pope and close the door, the head of the CDF (now pope) invites thoughtful reflection and sober exploration. Where Sungenis self-aggrandizes and attempts to intimidate into silence, our Holy Father is humble and meek.

B) The Example of Respect and Obedience Learned from Catholic Saints

We have many excellent examples of obedience and respect in the lives of the saints. For example, St. Theresa of Avila, St Margaret Mary and Sr. Josefa Menendez were given direct orders by Christ, yet the person in direct authority over them forbade their obedience to His direct orders. And how did Our Lord respond?

Not only do I desire that you should do what your Superior commands, but also that you should do nothing of all that I order without their consent. I love obedience, and without it no one can please me [Autobiography of St Margaret Mary].

Satan is angry and will try to deceive you. So do nothing without the approval of those who guide you. Being thus under the authority of obedience, his efforts against you will be in vain, for he has no power over the obedient [ibid]



Father Joseph West writes:

After error itself, the mark of a false mystic [or apologist?] is wilfulness and disobedience. I love this quote from Saint Faustina Kowalska: "Satan can even clothe himself in a cloak of humility, but he does not know how to wear the cloak of obedience." (Diary, par. 939). Genuine mystics, like Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), are models of obedience. They never pretend to set up Christ against His Church.

Everyone is free to have an opinion, but all have to submit to the judgement of the Church with practical obedience. What I mean is: you are still free to disagree (the Bishop is not infallible in this matter), but you owe him practical obedience, that is, you may not act against the decree.” (Apparitions True and False)


It is clear that Sungenis understood these requirements of obedience quite well in the context of this very same controversy as recently as a few months ago:

The bottom line is that my bishop has authority over me and I have to work things out with him. Catholicism is all about authority and obedience, otherwise we are Protestants. My apostolate is founded on the Catholic Church's authority, and nothing less (email to Edgar Suter, August 5, 2007; forwarded by Suter to a broad group of individuals). (Article)


But now that he has chosen to follow men like E. Michael Jones, Thomas Herron, and Edgar Suter he has suddenly reversed himself. Certainly, Sungenis’ contention that it is “against Catholic faith and morals” for Bishop Rhoades to order Robert Sungenis alone to cease and desist from commenting on the Jewish people and Judaism is utterly ridiculous.

It seems fitting to end again with two quotes from Vatican II, Lumen Gentium:

"Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be revered by all as witnesses of divine and Catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishop’s decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind.” #25

“The bishops, as vicars and legates of Christ, govern the particular Churches assigned to them…by the authority and sacred power which indeed they exercise exclusively for the spiritual development of their flock…This power, which they exercise personally in the name of Christ, is proper, ordinary and immediate…In virtue of this power bishops have a sacred right and a duty for the Lord of legislating for and of passing judgment on their subjects…

The pastoral charge, that is, the permanent and daily care of their sheep, is entrusted to them fully…for they exercise the power which they possess in their own right and are called in the truest sense of the term prelates of the people whom they govern.” #27


We all pray that Sungenis humbles himself and reconciles with his bishop, for his sake and for everyone else’s sake.