Monday, May 19, 2008

More Slander, Fraudulent Quotes and Double Standards From Sungenis

Unfortunately, Robert Sungenis' new friend Thomas Herron has again subtlely goaded him to do the wrong thing. (Mark Shea Attacks Review of Jones’ Book, hereafter MSARJB).

Among other things, in his drive to excuse himself and deflect attention by pointing the finger at others, Sungenis has created another fraudulent quote and leveled more false accusations, one of which is as hypocritical as his accusation that Einstein was a plagiarist. (Documentation of Sungenis' plagiarism may be found here, here and here.)

Sungenis writes:

I forgot, [Mark Shea] deliberately disobeyed Pope John Paul II's and Pope Benedict XVI's express statement that the war in Iraq is immoral and those who are engaging in it are in sin. (MSARJB, p. 10)


Shea, being a Catholic neo-con who flicked his finger into the air at two popes who told him the war is immoral... (MSARJB, p. 11)

Perhaps Sungenis can provide this "express statement" from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI that all those engaged in the Iraq war are "in sin." This would, of course, involve an absolute judgment of culpability upon all coalition soldiers currently in Iraq, among others.

And anyone who has even a passing familiarity with Mark Shea’s blog knows that he has raised many hackles precisely because of his long-standing, strong opposition to the war in Iraq. Below are links to many articles and they could be multiplied:

Shea did tentatively support the second Gulf War initally, based upon the pervasive, erroneous intelligence reports that Iraq had significant WMD. But very soon after the second Gulf War had commenced (long before Cardinal Ratzinger even became pope), he rapidly changed his view as further evidence came forth. Additionally, as several Catholic apologists have noted, then-Cardinal Ratzinger himself stated that Catholics could legitimately disagree on this prudential matter and remain in good standing with the Church (see #3). As such, it is erroneous and slanderous to make the accusation that Shea "deliberately disobeyed" or "flicked his finger into the air at two popes."

Whether the erroneous and slanderous accusations are against men like Leon Suprenant, Mike Sullivan and others for supposedly being pro-war Zionists, or against Christopher Blosser, Roy Schoeman, his former vice-presidents, Michael Forrest and Ben Douglass, or John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, or even his own bishop for being a judaizing heretic who is intent upon propagating his pro-Jewish errors to “unsuspecting Catholics”, Sungenis has repeatedly proven that he’s willing to say anything to deflect attention from his own seriously objectionable behavior and errors.

And then, in another remarkable display of hypocrisy, Sungenis writes:

The first glaring stupidity that Shea foists upon us is his unmitigated gall to write a critique of a book and its message that he hasn’t even read yet (ibid., p. 1).

Those who have followed all the troubles at CAI-BTF will remember that it was none other than Robert Sungenis who had the “unmitigated gall” to write a 1,500 word critique of Roy Schoeman’s book, Salvation is From the Jews, for Jones’ Culture Wars magazine before having read a word of it. And Sungenis has admitted that he intentionally impugned Schoeman’s honesty in this critique; again, after never even having read a word of the book.

In a message dated 4/1/2004 4:14:04 PM Eastern Standard Time,[Michael Forrest] writes:

Hi Bob,
Did you read (Schoeman's) book?

No. Does it say something
different than what I quoted?

From: Robert Sungenis

Sent: Friday, April 02, 2004 11:32 AM

To: Michael Forrest

Subject: Re: Letter to the Editor

[Quote from Sungenis' Letter to the Editor of Culture Wars about Roy Schoeman's book, Salvation is From the Jews]: >>If we really want to be honest about what Catholic tradition and Scripture say about Schoeman's predictions, the evidence is, at best, divided. >>

Forrest: 1) I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but by saying "we" and "honest", this sentence [in your criticism of Roy Schoeman] appears to question the honesty and integrity of those who see things differently than you on this subject...perhaps..."rigorous" would be a better word than "honest."

Sungenis: No, I do mean "honest."

Second, while Sungenis’ article was indeed an actual critique of Schoeman’s book, which Sungenis had not read, Shea’s blog posting was a brief critique of Sungenis’ review, a review which Shea most certainly had read. And, ironically, the very title of Sungenis’ article at BTF proves that Sungenis himself understood this basic distinction. Did Sungenis entitle his article “Mark Shea Attacks Jones’ Book”? No. He entitled it “Mark Shea Attacks Review of Jones’ Book” (emphasis added).

Third, Shea’s “critique” of Sungenis’ review of Jones’ book amounted to a mere 150 words. On the other hand, Sungenis’ extensive critique of a book he had never read was ten times that long at roughly 1,500 words. As such, even had Shea written an actual critique of Jones’ book itself (which he did not), Sungenis’ flaming criticism of Shea on this point would have been akin to a thief lecturing a jay-walker on the law.

Fourth, we are treated to yet another fraudulent "quote" by Sungenis that echoes his fraudulent quotes of Albert Einstein and Roy Schoeman. Sungenis writes:

With that, let’s look at some of the sound bites that the illustrious Mr. Shea extracts from my review in his typical demagogic fashion to draw on your sympathies and create a monster out of me and Dr. Jones for merely telling the truth of history. Shea writes:

“In the Revolutionary Jew…we discover (I am not making this up) that Milton Berle and Irving Berlin were part of the Vast Conspiracy.”

But is this what Shea wrote? No. This is the actual quote:

First, a glowing review ("one of the greatest [books] of all time") of Jones' _The Revolutionary Jew_ in which we discover (I am not making this up) that Milton Berle and Irving Berlin were part of the Vast Conspiracy.

In the actual quote, Shea is plainly referencing Sungenis' review of Jones' book. In Sungenis' manipulated quote of Shea, Shea is plainly writing about Jones' book itself, not Sungenis' review. In yet another echo of Sungenis' fraudulent quote of Albert Einstein, Sungenis has manipulated Shea's actual statement by abusing ellipses and inserting verbiage that does not actually exist. Even with ellipses, there is no way in which Shea can be accurately quoted as writing "In the Revolutionary Jew...we discover." And this is precisely what Sungenis needed Shea to write in order to attack him for critiquing a book he had never read. It is increasingly difficult to chalk such errors up to incompetence rather than deceit. (Recall, this is the man who is now dishonestly claiming that he is certain Fr. King made a verbatim statement about "supersessionism": link1 and link2)

Sungenis’ disturbing pattern of slander, double-standards and fraudulent quotes continues unabated.

Friday, May 16, 2008

More Problems with Sungenis' Theology

Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong has posted a detailed article on a seriously problematic aspect of Bob's own theology, the immutability of God. See Robert Sungenis' Denial of the Catholic De Fide Dogma of God's Immutability and Profound Confusion About Time and Eternity.

See also our own article, The Theology of Prejudice, which documents many ways in which Sungenis' theology and scholarship is skewed based on his rather serious biases.

The long and short of it is that, rather than leveling baseless accusations of heresy against his own bishop, maybe Bob should look first to bringing his own beliefs in line with the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sungenis' Books Continue to Lack Imprimaturs

It appears that Sungenis' long-standing difficulty in procuring imprimaturs for his books continues unabated. And while Sungenis has framed his difficulties as related solely to Bishop Rhoades as of late, the evidence proves otherwise.

Before any of them were written, Sungenis presumptuously assured his patrons that all of his CASB volumes would have imprimaturs. In doing so, he attempted to prematurely appropriate official Catholic clout in an effort to prime the well for the sale of his books. And as a result, he made a public issue of this matter. One cannot reasonably trumpet the expectation of an imprimatur in public in order to facilitate sales and then object when a denial of the same is also brought out in public. And clearly, Catholics have a legitimate right to know when a book with the word "Catholic" in the title and that deals with the Scriptures and theology has been refused the Church's official approbation.

To date, it appears that all three of Sungenis' "Catholic Apologetics Study Bible" (CASB) volumes have been rejected for an imprimatur. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) rejected his translation of Matthew in CASB1 because it was not actually a new translation, in spite of Sungenis' grand characterization of his work and also because of what the USCCB described as his use of "dynamic equivalency" in this translation (see here).

It should be noted that Sungenis continues to sell this unauthorized translation, apparently in direct violation of Canon Law: see Canon 825.

Although Sungenis had presumptuously assured his patrons that CASB 2 (The Apocalypse) would contain the Church's imprimatur before he had even submitted it for review (see here), CASB2 was rejected by Bishop Rhoades in early December, 2006. Sungenis and a few of his supporters then engaged in a campaign of deception designed to hide that rejection:

Sungenis and the CASB 2 (Apocalypse of St. John): More Source-Reference Problems

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

Sungenis Smears Bishop, Continues to Mislead and Distort the Record

Sungenis then claimed to have submitted CASB2 to another bishop shortly thereafter (early 2007):

In fact, a little while after I received Bishop Rhoades letter, I wrote to Queenship Publishing and told them I would like to apply for an imprimatur for the CASB2 in Queenship's diocese. They obliged and the matter is in process (Sungenis, Jacob Michael, the Imprimatur and the Smear Campaign, p. 1; no longer available on-line.)

It has been almost a year and a half since then, yet no imprimatur has appeared on CASB2. Therefore, if Sungenis was telling the truth about submitting CASB2 to another bishop, it seems safe to conclude that the other bishop has rejected it as well.

Sungenis also claimed to have submitted CASB3 (Romans and James) to another bishop and he was waiting for approval before publishing it (see here).

However, CASB3 has been published and there is no mention of any imprimatur by Sungenis (here). As such, it seems reasonable to conclude that CASB3 has been rejected by another bishop as well.

Another interesting fact about a recent Sungenis book has been illuminated at Wikipedia as well. Galileo Was Wrong, which is substantially the same as the "doctoral dissertation" Sungenis submitted to Calumus International University for a Ph.D. in theology (see Just What the Doctor Ordered?) was refused consideration for an imprimatur because the book was judged as "primarily one of philosophy and science and not one that is primarily theological in nature" (see here). One might naturally ask how a work that focused primarily on philosophy and science could serve as a dissertation for a putative Ph.D. in theology.

In the end, it is noteworthy that Sungenis has not received an imprimatur on any of his books over the last 10 years.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Slandering the Bishop, Again

Robert Sungenis has once again slandered his bishop, publicly charging him with holding a heresy. He has done this even in the face of explicit testimony from Bishop Rhoades which, had it been uttered by anybody else, would have been more than enough to clear him from suspicion in Sungenis' mind (see By Sungenis Alone: Double Standards).

Then, in a move exactly paralleling Bob's first public slander against his bishop (which occurred in early July, 2007, just five days after Bishop Rhoades had told Sungenis to cease and desist in writing about Jewish issues; see the story here), Sungenis has quietly revised the original accusations, with no forthcoming apologies or retractions. His original charge against Bishop Rhoades read as follows:

What about the war Rhoades [sic] is having with Catholic doctrine, Mr. Shea? Oh, I'm sorry. Mr. Shea doesn't regard it as a departure from Catholic doctrine because he believes the same heresy that Bishop Rhoades believes – that the Jewish Old Covenant isn't revoked. How silly of me to forget. (As of 14 May 2008 this original version was cached by Google and is available for viewing here.)

In the face of this renewed charge of heresy against a bishop of the Catholic Church, let's review the facts once again. First, Bishop Rhoades is not on trial here. And certainly he is not answerable to a demonstrably sloppy, bigoted researcher with an illegitimate doctorate (see here and here).

Second, after reading what Sungenis wrote in The Old Covenant, Revoked or Not Revoked, His Excellency called Sungenis' statements about him "slanderous and erroneous." Therefore, he expressly denied believing what Sungenis ascribed to him in that article about the dual covenant error. As such, in order to believe Sungenis now, one is forced to believe that Bishop Rhoades was intentionally lying in that express denial. And if Bishop Rhoades was willing to intentionally lie simply in order to avoid being "outted" by Sungenis as a dual-covenant adherent, then what would stop him from continuing to lie about it in order to satisfy and shut Sungenis up in regard to his new demands? As such, Sungenis' demand for additional answers is completely disingenuous. He has already implicitly accused Bishop Rhoades of being a liar. Of course, the very idea that Bishop Rhoades would be willing to lie simply out of fear of being outted by Sungenis is totally preposterous. Only someone with an ego the size of Sungenis' would believe such a thing.

Third and most importantly, Sungenis simply does not have evidence of any heresy. He does not base his charge of heresy against his bishop on any public writings or statements from Bishop Rhoades. The closest we come to an actual quote is Bob's claim that, "the bishop of my diocese, Kevin C. Rhoades, denied an imprimatur to my book The Apocalypse of St. John and cited page 131 as one of his proofs that my book, amazingly enough, because it called for the conversion of the Jews and held them responsible for their historic disbelief in Christ, had a ‘lack of adherence to authoritative Church teaching on Judaism.’" Rather than base his "case" on anything that Bishop Rhoades has actually said or written on this subject, Sungenis chooses rather to publicly charge a bishop with heresy for the following reasons:

1. Bishop Rhoades denied an imprimatur for Sungenis’s CASB2 volume and didn’t want to discuss it any further with him. This apparently makes His Excellency eminently suspect of heresy now in Sungenis' eyes. (Conversely, we think it makes him suspect of possessing wisdom and discernment.) Although, in typical Sungenis fashion, when he thought perhaps that Bishop Rhoades might still be of some use to him, he wrote the following more reasonable response in reaction to His Excellency’s unwillingness to discuss the imprimatur any further:

Since Bishop Rhoades didn’t give us that opportunity (and that is his prerogative as a bishop according to Canon Law), we could easily go elsewhere as he himself instructed us to do. (from Sungenis, Jacob Michael, the Imprimatur and the Smear Campaign, p. 1, no longer on-line; emphasis added)

Of course, at the end of July, 2007, roughly eight months after having been denied this imprimatur by Bishop Rhoades, Sungenis also made the following glowing comments about Bishop Rhoades and his Vicar General:

"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…”

CAI and Its Teaching on the Jews

Fortunately, as the result of a letter Sungenis wrote to a friend and patron, we know why he suddenly changed his tune:

The Real Reason Sungenis Turned on Bishop Rhoades

Sungenis’ more recent self-serving spin on the denial of the imprimatur is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that we have pointed to many details of the text of CASB2 that make the denial of an imprimatur for that work not only plausible, but the entirely proper thing for Bishop Rhoades to do, especially when these details are all taken together: See CASB2's Missing Imprimatur: The Real Reason the Bishop Said "No"? and The Theology of Prejudice (our examination was far from exhaustive.)

(It is interesting to note that, totally independent of our analysis and before the actual denial of the imprimatur on CASB2 broke into the public, Dr. Art Sippo commented on the Envoy discussion forum that from what he had read in CASB2, he didn't think it would receive an imprimatur. He proved to be prescient on the matter.)

2. Sungenis claims, without providing any evidence, that Bishop Rhoades is a protégé of his "mentor" William Cardinal Keeler and asserts—again, without citing any evidence—that, "It appears that he and Keeler are on the same wavelength when it comes to reinterpreting Catholic doctrine to accommodate the Jews." He has also erroneously claimed that Cardinal Keeler actually ordained Bishop Rhoades (a small detail, perhaps, but we think that if you are going to accuse a Catholic bishop of heresy, you had better have your facts straight.)

This illegitimate attempt at guilt by association has been thoroughly rebutted in our articles, Bishop Rhoades Sets The Record Straight and By Sungenis Alone: Bishop Rhoades and the Cardinal Keeler/RCM (non)Connection.

3. Sungenis is emphatic now that Fr. King, the vicar general of the Diocese of Harrisburg, stated that "We don't believe in supersessionism any longer."

Once again, this is an illegitimate attempt at guilt by association as the "statement" was allegedly made by Fr. King and not Bishop Rhoades. But perhaps just as importantly, the first time that Sungenis cited this "quotation" from Fr. King, he qualified it by saying that it was perhaps only “to the effect that”, "as Catholics, 'we don't believe in supersessionism any longer.'" Since Sungenis has before admitted the weakness of his own memory when it comes to remembering such details and has struggled to use quotation marks appropriately, it is highly significant that even he would qualify his assertion about Fr. King's alleged statement in this manner. Now, however, he is dishonestly citing this statement as though he is absolutely certain that these were the exact words of Fr. King.

And as we have already pointed out, even if Fr. King did indeed say exactly what Sungenis claims, we still would need to know what he means by "supersessionism". 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. If he was addressing this term in the way that Sungenis appears define it—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. This supposedly damning, alleged quote is completely useless in supporting Sungenis' charge of heresy against Bishop Rhoades. See the linked section in Bishop Rhoades Sets the Record Straight for additional evidence that Sungenis is not being honest.

4. Even though Bishop Rhoades explicitly stated that, "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" and "I believe that the Church is called to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples, including the Jewish people", according to Sungenis this "proves nothing." Furthermore, according to Sungenis' standards, His Excellency is not only to be suspected of holding to a heretical dual covenant position, he may be explicitly, unequivocally and publicly charged with holding this heresy by the likes of Robert Sungenis.

5. In this latest piece, Sungenis moves from the outrageous to the completely offensive and absurd. Now he wonders whether perhaps the key to Bishop Rhoades' supposed defection from the faith is, "because [the Jews] own the mortgages on the Catholic buildings erected in his and other dioceses?" (Mark Shea Attacks Review of Jones' Book: Our Response to Shea, p. 9 as of 05/13/2008.)

The bottom line, according to Sungenis (who insists that he's not obsessed with Jews) is that, "It's time for people to wake up and stop being corralled by the Jewish slave masters" (ibid. p. 10).

Now, apparently somebody associated with CAI-BTF is willing to wink at this sort of disturbed behavior and, operating as Bob's severely impaired conscience, has convinced him at least to tone down the public charge of heresy against a successor of the Apostles. As of 05/13/2008 the revised text now reads:

What about the war Rhoades [sic] is apparently still having with Catholic doctrine, Mr. Shea? Oh, I'm sorry. Mr. Shea doesn't regard it as a departure from Catholic doctrine because he believes the same heresy that Bishop Rhoades has not clearly renounced and so presumably still believes, even after the Holy Father promulgated the new Good Friday prayer - namely, that the Old (Mosaic) Covenant isn't superseded and remains ‘eternally valid’ for the Jews. How silly of me to forget (ibid., p. 9.)

This clumsily revised passage is, of course, still unjust and calumnious. Bishop Rhoades has no need to "clearly renounce" anything, because he has never said or done anything that would require renunciation. And he cannot be said to "presumably still believe" anything contrary to the Catholic faith, since Sungenis has never brought forth any actual evidence that would create even the hint of presumption.

And if this revision was meant somehow to be more deferential and accurate, where is the retraction and apology for the original version? Why is Sungenis once again trying to slip this revision in under the radar, pretending that he never wrote the original? This is precisely the tactic he took the first time he publicly slandered Bishop Rhoades, posting no mention that he's made a revision of the article (see the story on the first time this happened here.)

Here is a simple challenge to Sungenis: If he really thinks that he has been so wronged by his bishop and that Bishop Rhoades really holds to a heresy, then let him do the Catholic thing and bring the whole matter to the Vatican. But then, of course, if such a charge would even be taken half seriously, his whole corpus of anti-Semitic writings (which he claims simultaneously to "disavow” and “hold and believe in my personal thoughts because I believe the material to be factual"—see More Definition Difficulties: Disavow) would be brought to the attention of the Vatican as well.

It is our view at Sungenis and the Jews that such a quixotic heresy "case" against his bishop, juxtaposed against his panoply of anti-Semitic writings, would at least provide the officials at the Vatican with some welcome comic relief over a plate of good pasta and a glass of red wine. Sadly, there are still at least a few Sungenis devotees remaining who continue to encourage and enable this pathologically scandalous behavior. Clearly, they are doing neither the Church nor Sungenis himself any favors.