Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bishop Rhoades Sets The Record Straight

In an attempt to justify his public defiance of his bishop, the Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Robert Sungenis has publicly charged His Excellency with four offenses. These serious charges appeared in his recent article, The Old Covenant, Revoked or Not Revoked (OCRNR) and in a recent issue of Culture Wars magazine. The charges are as follows:

1) Sungenis claims that Bishop Rhoades holds to a false doctrine (which Sungenis also characterizes as a “heresy”). This false doctrine is commonly referred to as the “Dual Covenant” or “Dual Salvific Covenant” which posits that the Jewish people possess their own, independent, salvific covenant with God, apart from Jesus Christ. (pp. 11-12)

2) Sungenis claims that Bishop Rhoades is “attempting to propagate” this error to “unsuspecting Catholics”. (p. 11)

3) Sungenis claims that Bishop Rhoades possesses greater “allegiances” to Jewish interests than to the Catholic faith. (p. 12)

4) Sungenis claims that Bishop Rhoades is attempting to stop Sungenis from exposing and refuting this doctrinal error. (p. 12)

This essay will demonstrate not only that all of these charges are erroneous and slanderous, but that Sungenis' "evidence" amounted to no more than guilt by association and jumping to a rash, unwarranted conclusion. It will also demonstrate the real reason why Sungenis turned on Bishop Rhoades.

Since Robert Sungenis has, in the past, so entirely misrepresented events concerning me and many others who have confronted him regarding his treatment of Jewish issues, I decided to contact His Excellency, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, in order to give him an opportunity to respond to these serious charges. And as Sungenis and his followers have a history of attempting to overwhelm their “opponents” by the sheer volume and frequency of their “responses”, I made clear to His Excellency that I have no intention of pursuing a continuing dialogue about this matter. I am pleased to report that His Excellency decided to answer my inquiry.

Below is the text of what I wrote to His Excellency, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, bishop of the diocese of Harrisburg, PA:

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades
Diocese of Harrisurg
4800 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg, PA 17111

Your Excellency,

Although I am hesitant to do so for various reasons, I would like to bring to your attention a certain unfortunate matter. I’ll try to do so as briefly as possible as I’m sure you have a great deal to which you must attend.

I understand that there are elements of the situation involving Robert Sungenis of Catholic Apologetics International (now Bellarmine Theological Forum) and the diocese of Harrisburg that are of course private. However, Mr. Sungenis has now made public accusations about you based on selectively quoted private correspondence with you and other “evidence” that amounts to no more than innuendo and guilt by association. As such, I would like to pose four brief questions in a general way in order to give you an opportunity to clarify matters for the sake of all who may be confused or troubled by his accusations. Please rest assured that I do not intend to pursue a continuing series of questions and answers with you about this issue.

If this seems worthwhile to you, my questions are as follows:

1) Do you believe that the Jewish people have their own independent salvific covenant with God, apart from Jesus Christ, so that there are two independent saving covenants in effect today, one for Jews and one for Gentiles?

2) Do you believe that anyone reaches heaven without the mediation of Jesus Christ?

3) Do you understand anything on page 131 of the U.S. Catechism for Adults to mean that the Jewish people (or any group) have their own, independent saving path to God, outside of Jesus Christ?

4) Do you believe that the Church is called to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples, including the Jewish people?

I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your time and consideration.

I also provided His Excellency with a copy of Sungenis’ article, The Old Covenant, Revoked or Not Revoked along with web address where it is presently located.

Below, one will find His Excellency’s response. The reader may click on each section to enlarge it, for easier viewing:

(Bishop Rhoades' letter may also be viewed in pdf format here: Letter)

Sungenis’ bishop has thus entirely refuted Sungenis’ “slanderous and erroneous” charges.

I must candidly admit that even after personally witnessing the multiple occasions on which Sungenis has seriously misrepresented his interactions with me and so many others in order to exonerate or excuse himself, I still harbored at least some doubt that he would dare to engage in such deplorable behavior against a successor to the Apostles. My doubt proved to be unfounded.

It seems that in Sungenis’ mind, this is another debate to “win” and he is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. Sungenis admits that from early on, “I fancied myself…a David, courageously defying the towering Catholic Goliath.” (Surprised by Truth, page 108) Sadly, it appears this perception of himself was never truly abandoned. His mindset still appears to be fundamentally Protestant, and has become even more so recently, by his own standards (Article). While the Protestant has “Scripture alone” as his rule, 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, ultimately, it is still Sungenis alone who determines 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 recently discovered.

Beating Himself Up?

It is worth reflecting on the extreme oddity of what has transpired. Who publicly exposed the fact that Bishop Rhoades had indicated he would publicly denounce Sungenis, if Sungenis refused to cease and desist from commenting on Jews and Judaism? Who exposed the fact that Bishop Rhoades had indicated he would enforce Canon 300, which prohibits organizations from appropriating the name “Catholic” without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority? Who exposed the fact that Bishop Rhoades had chastised Sungenis as evidencing a “lack of adherence to authoritative Church teaching on Judaism”?

Was it Bishop Rhoades?

No, it was Sungenis himself. All of these facts were divulged in articles written by Sungenis (“Catholic Apologetics International and its Teachings on the Jews”, henceforth CAITJ and “The Old Covenant, Revoked or Not Revoked”, henceforth OCRNR) and Sungenis’ new ally on Jewish issues, Thomas Herron (“Fear of the Jews in Harrisburg”, Culture Wars, Oct. 2007). And Sungenis has indicated that he personally approved Herron’s article.

How strange then to witness what has ensued. It is almost as if Sungenis was so clamoring for a fight that he grabbed the bishop’s hand and struck himself with it in order to justify his own aggression against His Excellency.

Forcing the Bishop’s Hand, Again?

So what, precisely, precipitated this deplorable turn of events? The answer is evident in Sungenis’ own articles if one can place oneself in the bishop’s position. In Sungenis’ article of July 31st, 2007 (CAI and Its Teaching on the Jews) he wrote:

Our bishop and his advisors are allowing us to express our views if they are stated in an inoffensive manner” (CAITJ, p. 2)

More recently, Sungenis has divulged the bishop’s directive more fully, stating that Bishop Rhoades

would “allow [me] 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 you take an approach quite different in tone and content from the one pursued in the past.” (OCRNR, p. 11)

Continuing on in CAITJ (July 31st 2007), Sungenis then listed seven “theological positions” about Jews. A few things deserve mention in regard to these “seven points.”

It is evident that Sungenis believed his seven points were written in conformity with his bishop’s orders. In describing his July 31st article several months later in OCRNR, he wrote:

I subsequently wrote a new article whose ‘tone’ was proper…” (p. 11)

Notice that Sungenis failed to state that his bishop insisted that his writings needed to be “quite different” in both tone and content. It is equally evident that Sungenis never considered the propriety of engaging a lengthy, new criticism of Jews at the end of his supposed "apology" for attacking them - a criticism, by the way, that ran twice as long as this supposed "apology" (Article). Additionally, Sungenis never considered the possibility that after just having been called in by his bishop because of his offensive writing against Jews, it would be proper and prudent to submit these seven theological points to at least obtain his bishop’s reaction before publishing them. Unfortunately, Sungenis’ presumptuousness led to an entirely predictable reaction from Bishop Rhoades:

I was then told by the bishop that my opinions showed a lack of ‘charity and respect for the Jewish people and for Judaism itself.’ He then took back his previous offer to allow me to change the ‘tone’ of my articles and forthwith ordered me to stop writing about the Jews and Judaism altogether. (OCRNR, p.11)

We must again note that Bob chose to divulge his bishop’s intervention in the article CAITJ (July 31st). This is critical to understand, because in so doing, Sungenis had (no doubt unintentionally) likely heightened his bishop’s sensitivity to these new “theological points”. It could well appear now as though his bishop had approved the substance of those points for publication and as though he considered Bob’s tone and content to be proper. In fact, directly after his “seven points” Sungenis went on to thank Bishop Rhoades and the USCCB, thus implicitly linking them to this most current foray into Jewish issues.

Furthermore, it must be said that Sungenis’ “seven points” suffer at times from the same kind of error that I was once enlisted to edit while at CAI: a lack of distinction between Sungenis’ personal theological opinions and established facts. Additionally, a few of his points contain dubious, potentially problematic assertions (in particular, his statement in point #6 that appears to absolutely judge the moral culpability of all Jews - even those currently living - for not becoming Catholic, comes to mind as one that likely created an issue). And frankly, contrary to Sungenis’ assertion, even the tone of this section was too often unnecessarily contentious and polemical, especially as it was in the midst of an acknowledgment of error in regard to his Jewish writings.

We now know that, some time after reading CAITJ, Sungenis’ bishop concluded that Sungenis was simply incapable of handling even theological issues involving Jews responsibly and charitably. And therefore he understandably tightened the slack which he had permitted on the condition that Sungenis “take an approach quite different in tone and content from the one pursued in the past”. The fact is, this was a perfectly reasonable conclusion for the bishop to reach. If anything, Bishop Rhoades had been remarkably patient and kind with Sungenis, especially considering the fact that Sungenis had publicly smeared His Excellency a mere 5 days after receiving the “cease and desist” order (article), proceeded to post several more items attacking Jews, and left dozens of anti-Jewish items at the CAI website for a month after being given a two week timeframe in which to take them down. (see Article 1 and Article 2)

Apparently, Sungenis has never considered the possibility that his bishop may have become aware of this defiance and that this too may have played a role in his ultimate judgment that Sungenis is not capable of responsibly handling Jewish issues of any nature.

But Sungenis apparently could not (or perhaps did not want to) conceive of any legitimate reason why his bishop would do such a thing. So he jumped to the conclusion that Bishop Rhoades must hold to the dual salvific covenant error and promptly set about mentally compiling the “evidence”.

Examining Sungenis’ “Evidence”

We now have irrefutable evidence that Sungenis was completely wrong about Bishop Rhoades. But it is still worth examining exactly what “evidence” Sungenis believed he had that enabled him to feel justified in leveling such serious charges. The reader should keep in mind that the man making these charges is a long-time professional apologist and debater who claims to have earned a research doctorate in theology.

However, before going any further, it must be emphasized that Bishop Rhoades obviously never told Sungenis he believes the dual salvific covenant theory. Sungenis never cites any conversations, writings, or other words of Bishop Rhoades to back up his charges. In fact, it appears that Sungenis has never actually even spoken to the bishop. Yet, Sungenis felt perfectly free to jump to convenient conclusions and calumniate him for the second time (the first is documented here).

Now, in place of actual evidence in the form of Bishop Rhoades’ own words that he holds to the doctrinal error of which he is accused, what does Sungenis offer as “evidence”?

“Evidence” #1

First, Sungenis jumped to the worst possible conclusions based on the fact that Bishop Rhoades refused his application for an imprimatur on CASB2 (although this occurred back in December, 2006). His Excellency had referred to a section of the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults that contained a potentially problematic sentence about the Jewish people’s covenant with God (for a fuller treatment of why Sungenis was likely rejected for this imprimatur, click here).

The relevance of the USCCB’s liberal stance on the Jews was brought home to me loud and clear when 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.” (OCRNR, p. 11)

The most obvious problem with Sungenis’ conclusion is that this section of the USCCA contains six sentences, not one, and the rest of those sentences focus on the special relationship the Jewish people still possess with God, the fact that we share a common heritage with the Jewish people, and an affirmation that the Church “deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of antisemitism leveled at any time or from any source against Jews.” And Sungenis’ CASB most certainly does run afoul of those sentences (see article). Additionally, the one controversial passage on which Sungenis fixated is ambiguous and not everyone interprets it in the same way that he has. This includes Bishop Rhoades and others at the USCCB (see article). It was thus inappropriate and unjustified for him to jump to the conclusion that the bishop holds the most problematic interpretation.

“Evidence” #2

Second, just as he had back in early July 2007, Sungenis once again tried to impugn Bishop Rhoades by associating him with Cardinal Keeler:

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 2002…

Of course, this tactic of “guilt by association” is completely inappropriate and irresponsible on its face. But his claim crumbles even further when the facts are examined:

a) Sungenis provided absolutely no evidence that Cardinal Keeler was Bishop Rhoades’ “lifelong mentor.” This invalid tactic is known as an “ipse dixit”, or more colloquially, "it is so because I say so".

b) Sungenis provided absolutely no evidence that Cardinal Keeler and Bishop Rhoades have ever even discussed something like the dual covenant theory.

c) Sungenis claimed that Cardinal Keeler ordained Bishop Rhoades. But as so often in the past, Sungenis was being deceptive by selectively presenting the facts. Indeed, Cardinal Keeler was present at Bishop Rhoades’ ordination. However, as anyone can discover with just a little effort, there were three bishops present, not one, and Cardinal Keeler wasn’t the principal consecrator (see That honor belonged to Cardinal Rigali. Additionally, Bishop Olmstead was present as a co-consecrator. Would Sungenis care to smear Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Olmstead as well? And what of the many other bishops that Cardinal Keeler has consecrated? Are they all automatically guilty of the doctrinal error with which Sungenis charges Bishop Rhoades?

d) Even if Cardinal Keeler and Bishop Rhoades were close friends—and, again, Sungenis has provided no evidence to support that assertion—this in no way proves that Bishop Rhoades and Cardinal Keeler must therefore agree on this issue. And, of course, now we know for certain that they do not agree on this issue.

“Evidence” #3

Third and finally, Sungenis tried to associate Bishop Rhoades with a comment allegedly made by the Vicar General, Fr. King:

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.” Although I did not make a response at that time, I knew upon leaving the building the erroneous theology he, Rhoades and the USCCB were attempting to propagate to unsuspecting Catholics. (p. 11, OCRNR)

There are four primary observations that may be made.

a) As is clear from both Sungenis’ account and Thomas Herron’s account, Bishop Rhoades himself was not even present at this meeting. Sungenis met with Fr. King and Fr. Massa. Therefore, he took the convenient liberty of attributing the import of Fr. King’s alleged statement to Bishop Rhoades. This is completely inappropriate and invalid argumentation.

b) Sungenis has a long history of being less than accurate when using quotation marks (see here). So, one may be excused for being particularly skeptical when Sungenis sees fit to discount the accuracy of this alleged quotation with the words “to the effect that.”

c) 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 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. [Note: click here and here for a discussion of the term "supersessionism" and Bobs' continued misuse of it.]

d) 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.

This is obviously very strongly-worded criticism. However, I believe it is not only justified, but necessary in order to clearly convey the ugliness and dishonesty of what Sungenis has chosen to do.

Not by Tone Alone…

Sungenis has also recently attempted to engage in some revisionist history. On page 11 of OCRNR, he states:

Although I did decide to calm some of the storm by removing Jewish articles from my website so that, as the bishop requested, they could be edited for “tone,” when I subsequently wrote a new article whose “tone” was proper... (emphasis added) .


He then took back his previous offer to allow me to change the “tone” of my articles and forthwith ordered me to stop writing about the Jews and Judaism altogether (emphasis added).

But was he admonished for his tone alone? No. As we have already seen, Sungenis went on to provide the evidence in this very same article when he quoted Bishop Rhoades’ actual words:

[Bishop Rhoades] told me, (quoting his own words), that he would "allow [me] 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 you take an approach quite different in tone and content from the one pursued in the past" (emphasis added.)

Furthermore, in Sungenis’ July 31st, 2007 letter, CAITJ, he was completely clear:

the shepherds God has placed as overseers of my life and work have asked me to reconsider the tone and content with which I write about the Jewish people for CAI. They 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.

So Sungenis has known all along that the problem was not just with his tone, but with his “content” and “accusations”. The reason this is significant is that Sungenis has subsequently resisted admitting anything beyond a fault with his style. He has consistently refused to admit that he has made errors of substance or content. But it is clear that Bishop Rhoades and the USCCB have corrected him not only for his style, but for his substance in regard to Jewish issues. For his part, before he went on the offense, Sungenis acknowledged that “I communicated to them my agreement...” It is disingenuous to circle back around now and claim that Bishop Rhoades changed the terms of the discussion.

Fear of Robert Sungenis in Harrisburg?

Sungenis has made much of the fact that his letter to the bishop went unanswered. We have seen that Sungenis has a tendency to reach unwarranted conclusions. And it is clear that he has done so again in regard to the reason for Bishop Rhoades' recent “silence”. Sungenis wrote:

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)

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 clarification 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)

It seems evident that Sungenis believes he has cowed and silenced Bishop Rhoades by the sheer force of his arguments and the threat of being "exposed" as a Judaizing heretic to the Vatican. No doubt, the bishop was reduced to silence, but for a very different reason. Can there be any real doubt that the extreme rashness and impudence exhibited in Sungenis' letter would merely have served to confirm in Bishop Rhoades' mind that he was correct in ordering Sungenis to completely cease and desist from commenting on anything involving the Jewish people? Is it difficult to imagine that Bishop Rhoades would have come to the conclusion that it was not possible to have a reasonable, constructive discussion with a person possessed of such an arrogant, judgmental and contentious mindset?

And yet, remarkably, Sungenis now even attempts to justify his flagrant disobedience by appealing to this slanderous charge he has leveled against Bishop Rhoades:

it was up to him 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. Anti-supersessionism is against Catholic faith and morals (ibid.).

Sungenis' continuing extreme double-standards are further exposed when we consider the following complaint just registered against his former vice-president, Ben Douglass:

Mr. Douglass will be the judge, jury and executioner to determine when someone has crossed the line into 'too soon, too much and too eagerly'; beyond what is merited. Mr. Douglass, a person with no ecclesiastical or canonical authority, nevertheless, decides that he will set the 'too much' bar for how the rest of the Catholic world will be allowed to judge...Amazing. (email of Feb 20, 2008)

Clearly, it is Sungenis, who has elevated himself to the position of "judge, jury and executioner" of his own bishop even though he has "no ecclesiastical or canonical authority." Amazing, indeed.

A Prayer for Better Things

Again, it appears clear from Sungenis’ rhetoric that he truly believes he has “slain Goliath” and emerged "victorious". But reports of the good bishop’s demise are premature—he has now been completely vindicated from Sungenis’ false charges. Furthermore, the severe lack of wisdom, prudence and discernment evident in Sungenis' actions has also served to confirm the wisdom of Bishop Rhoades' orders.

Clearly, Bishop Rhoades intended to help Sungenis. But he also intended to protect the Church and the Jewish people by making it clear that Sungenis’ views of the Jewish people are solely his own and not the Church’s. At least his second objective has been accomplished. And as such, one tends to doubt that Bishop Rhoades is inclined to provide Sungenis with the platform he evidently desires (a canonical trial) from which to cause further harm to the Church and others.

It is truly lamentable that Sungenis has chosen to view and approach matters with his bishop in this contentious way, because I sense in Bishop Rhoades - whose episcopal motto is “Veritatem in caritate” - a man of great patience and mercy. Instead, Sungenis has chosen to follow the counsel of "friends" like E. Michael Jones, Thomas Herron and Edgar Suter, who readily tickle his ears and encourage his worst impulses and suspicions.

At this point, all one can do is pray that Robert comes to his senses, repents of his slanderous charges, and realizes that the “Goliath” he tried to slay is in fact the very man God mercifully placed over him as his shepherd and father in the faith.

Subsequent articles further refuting Sungenis' false and slanderous accusations against Bishop Rhoades:

Lumen Gentium, Vatican II:

"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

Saying "Peace!" When There Is No Peace

They would repair, as though it were nought, the injury to my people: ‘Peace, peace!’ they say, though there is no peace. They are odious; they have done abominable things, yet they are not at all ashamed, they know not how to blush.” (Jer. 6:14-15)

From 2002 forward, Bob has made several statements about his anti-Jewish postings that have at first glance appeared to be genuine apologies and/or retractions. In fact, even those involved in RSATJ once believed he had apologized and intended to refrain from such activities in the future. However, as documented at Robert Sungenis and the Jews, it became apparent that these apologies were not what they initially appeared to be. And since 2002, Bob has made claims about his intention to stop attacking Jews in the interest of “peace”, only to renew those attacks and expand on them when he felt matters had cooled down sufficiently. He has given a variety of excuses for recommencing his attacks over time, but the one common thread is anger and a drive to prove that he was correct about Jews all along. To be clear, the intention of this article is not to ridicule Robert Sungenis. It is to document what Sungenis has actually said and done as opposed to what some people may think he has said and done, and concurrently, to document a troubling pattern of behavior.

As Michael Forrest documented in relation to Bob’s 2002 “apologies”:

I errantly defended Bob, largely due to personal conversations we had at the time wherein he indicated that he would retract and apologize for any of the problematic material posted at CAI. But about two years later a situation arose that forced me to more thoroughly investigate exactly what had publicly transpired. This was no small task, as a great deal had been written.

When I searched at length for Bob’s public apology and retraction, I identified only an occasion on which Bob asserted that he had previously apologized. Eventually, I encountered two statements by Bob that made everything quite plain:

(Sungenis): “The only reason it (the article of Sept 2002) went through some "revisions" is that when this whole thing first started I was trying to be accommodating to those who were levying their charges. I took off some material that some people found offensive, even though I still stood by the material (and no one has proven it wrong).” (emphasis added)


(Sungenis): “I told whoever would listen that I would remove those sections in the interest of peace….Again, all the material that Mr. Cork is objecting to in this present article was removed from my website weeks ago in the interest of peace.” (emphasis added)

In these places, Bob made clear what his apology was and what it was not. He neither retracted nor apologized for any of the material. He merely apologized for upsetting “some” people because “some” of it was associated with scandalous organizations. He stood firmly by the material itself. He removed the most offensive and scandalous items only “in the interest of peace.”

This was not the apology that I believed he had offered. In truth, it was really no apology or retraction at all. Bob has referred others to this article even now and has repeated or expanded upon many of the views expressed in it.

Sadly, this pattern of offering such “tactical” apologies has continued unabated. As previously documented at Robert Sungenis and the Jews, Bob began returning to his anti-Jewish crusade when matters cooled down. And few, if any, said a word in public during that time period. This is a critical fact to consider for the few who have argued that Bob would stop attacking Jews if only people would leave him alone. He was largely “left alone” for over 3 years after the 2002 debacle subsided.

Nevertheless, he returned to his anti-Jewish polemic with a vengeance. He proceeded to amass over 100 articles, Q and A’s and “Features” attacking Jews, publishing and even plagiarizing material gleaned from Holocaust deniers, white supremacists and other anti-Jewish extremists in the process (link 1 and link 2 and link 3).

Then, when he became aware of the Robert Sungenis and the Jews website early in September 2006, he posted what some people perceived as a genuine apology and a sign of repentance: his “Open Letter to the Patrons of CAI”. In this “open letter”, Bob portrayed his newest change of direction as though it was completely due to his own introspection, with no reference at all to any of the contributors to Robert Sungenis and the Jews. (This fact is particularly noteworthy as Bob would soon proceed to retract this “Open Letter” and specifically blame Jacob Michael and Michael Forrest for his return to attacks upon Jews, going so far as to say that now “I am even more determined to write about these issues”: Question 41, November 2007. Clearly, the idea that criticisms leveled by two men could ever justify attacking an entire ethnic group is absurd and clearly illustrates Bob's spiteful mindset).

He then acknowledged that he had been on a “somewhat controversial path” and that this path had “detracted from the expertise we offered to the public in the area of biblical studies” and therefore “we are retreating from those more controversial areas for the foreseeable future so that we can concentrate on our areas of strength.”

Bob continued on to say that because of this new focus on his areas of actual expertise, “we will hardly have time for anything else” but that he would rely on men like Ben Douglass, one of “the best men ever to work at CAI”, to help handle the Q and A load.

Finally, Bob ended with this apology:

“…let me offer my sincerest apologies to all the people or groups that I have offended by the manner in which I have sometimes communicated my ideas in the past four years. Whether Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim or whatever, I know that some of the words I chose and some of the sources I used tended to incite offense. I can assure you that such will be the case no longer. Whenever we write about any group or individual it will be with much care and consideration.”

However, as previously noted at RSATJ, Bob only apologized for the manner in which he presented false and bigoted material, not for the actual substance of the material itself. Yet, he promised to exercise “much care and consideration” from then on.

It was at this point that Michael Forrest and Ben Douglass spent a great deal of time trying to reach an agreement that would bring a more authentic “peace” to the situation and some tangible fruits of repentance (Douglass was Sungenis' vice-president at that time). And in fact, they did hammer out an agreement. However, after explicitly giving Douglass permission to negotiate on his behalf, Sungenis proceeded to reject every element of their agreement and even added that various apologies must be made instead to him (a fuller account may be viewed here: article).

Then came another deluge of anti-Jewish articles, Q and A’s and “features” and new claims of being the target of a massive conspiracy of Jews and “Shabbot goys” [sic] (Question 44, January 2007)

Bob’s writings at CAI became so offensive that the bishop of Harrisburg intervened. And remarkably, a mere 5 days after receiving a “cease and desist” letter from Bishop Rhoades on June 29th, Bob chose to post an article smearing his bishop. And although he was given 2 weeks to comply with his bishop’s orders, not only did Bob leave his anti-Jewish material up for a full month, he opted to add to it.

He posted a cartoon of a Jewish soldier with a machine-gun pointed at the head of a young Palestinian child. He posted a Q and A in which he went to great lengths to downplay the relationship of the Jewish people to God. He wrote “,Jacob Michael, As Ass in Sheep’s Clothing”. And he also posted a review of a book by James Petras in which he made the following statements, including his own personal prophecy of “judgment” and “punishment” for Israel:

Sungenis: "The Jews are godless and getting more ungodly with each passing day."

Sungenis: “There was such unbridled destruction of people and property that, like Jacob saw in his day, we have all the signs that the nation of Israel has made itself 'stink' among the nations. As Jacob predicted, it may not be too long before their neighbors 'shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.' St. John may have predicted the same when he stated that the 'Whore of Babylon' would one day be hated and burned by the Beast and the Ten Horns (the nations)."

Sungenis: "Peace in the Middle East can only come if Israel learns her place…”

Sungenis: “Israel is as ungodly today as they were in St. Paul’s day, and the world, especially the United States, must stop condoning and encouraging its sin...If the United States does not stop, it will also soon come under God’s judgment and it will be severely punished.”

Recall, all of this after being ordered by his bishop to cease and desist writing about the Jewish people and Judaism. Then, after being called in to meet with the bishop’s representatives on July 27th, Sungenis decided to change tactics, apparently because he believed he could work with the diocese enough to save some face, as proven by a letter he subsequently wrote:

Sungenis: “If I have read [the diocese of Harrisburg and the USCCB] 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, forwarded by Sungenis ally Edgar Suter to a wide audience).

On July 31st, Bob posted his third “apology” at CAI, entitled: Catholic Apologetics and Its Teachings on the Jews (henceforth, CAITJ). In this letter, he once again spent considerable ink blaming others and even the Church herself for his difficulties, from “the partiality many Catholics maintain for the Jews and their ideological causes” to “the difference in emphasis that the Catholic Church herself has taught regarding the Jews, since in more traditional times a more hard-line approach was prevalent.”

And perhaps most remarkably, considering the fact that he was fully aware that he had just openly defied and attacked his own bishop over the last month, he proceeded to publicly laud his own faithfulness and humble obedience:

“Since I am a faithful son of the Catholic Church, 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.”

”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.” Article

However, he also went on to say that the bishop’s representative (Fr. King) and the representative from the USCCB (Fr. Massa) indicated that he “had crossed the line into inappropriate language and accusations”, that he had been corrected for his “tone and content” and “I communicated to them my agreement with their overall assessment.” And as a result of this, he was removing his anti-Jewish postings, “at least until they can be rewritten with a ‘human and Christian spirit’ (can. 822: 2,3)”. He then stated that these men are "the shepherds God has placed as overseers of my life and work" and that it is "a privilege to obey them."

It is important to keep in mind that Sungenis openly acknowledged here that he was corrected for his “inappropriate language and accusations”, his “tone and content” and that he “communicated to them [his] agreement.” Because shortly thereafter, he began asserting that the diocese and USCCB only corrected him in regard to his “tone” or “manner” of expression.

According to the record, this is false. Sungenis already made clear that he was corrected for both tone and content. Furthermore, it is simply not credible to suggest that his diocese and the USCCB believed that there was an appropriate way to say that Jews have "infected" the Church and that Judaism is an “infection”, that they are “godless and getting more ungodly with each passing day” or that they toppled Bill Clinton by setting him up with Monica Lewinsky. No, the diocese saw rightly that the problem was not merely with his “tone”. And Sungenis stated that he had “communicated to them my agreement with their overall assessment.”

Sungenis then continued on in CAITJ to elaborate on his “seven theological points” about Jews. Clearly, it was presumptuous and inappropriate to publish such an extended, negative theological critique of Jews in the context of an acknowledgement of -- and supposed "apology" for -- offenses against those same people. If one has just been corrected by one’s father for unjustly attacking someone, the proper response is to apologize and observe silence for at least a time. It is completely inappropriate to immediately launch into a new critique of the harmed party. It is also worth noting that Sungenis’ theological critique of Jews was twice as long as his acknowledgment of error.

But perhaps most importantly, one will note the lack of any actual apologies or substantive retractions made by Sungenis in this entire letter. Yet, in a recent email, he still claims to have “apologized”:

“I wrote a website article that apologized for any improper tone that I had in my previous articles, but an article in which I included seven short summary points of my position on the Jews.” (email of Feb. 20, 2007)

Again, we notice Sungenis referring solely to his "tone." And the reader is challenged to identify exactly where this apology was stated in his July 31st article, CAITJ. The most charitable interpretation is that Sungenis does not understand the difference between acknowledging an offense and actually apologizing for it. Furthermore, as previously noted, what Sungenis terms “seven short summary points of my position on the Jews” took twice the space of his supposed “apology.”

An analogy may be of benefit:

Joe spreads falsehoods about Bill’s family and defames them. Joe’s falsehoods are discovered by Joe’s own father. His father confronts him. In response, Joe says, “Yes, I defamed Bill’s family. Okay, I’ll stop doing that any longer. But let me tell you what’s REALLY wrong with Bill’s family!”

Has Joe apologized? No! He has merely acknowledged what he has done and indicated that he will stop. And then he even had the audacity to immediately criticize the very people he had just offended! There was no “I’m sorry”, “I apologize”, no actual expression of remorse for having caused harm to the innocent. This is elementary Catholic moral theology that applies in the confessional as well. Not only do we acknowledge our sins, we express remorse, make whatever amends are reasonable and promise to sin no more.

Again, the reason for drawing this out is simply that Sungenis has a demonstrated history of making statements that mislead people into believing he has done what he has not done. He has not been willing to unequivocally apologize for and retract the hateful things that he has written and said. And he has repeatedly returned to his offensiveness, brushing off what people mistook for apologies as merely magnanimous gestures he has offered “for the sake of peace” or because people have simply “misunderstood” him and been offended for no real reason.

Shortly after posting CAITJ, Sungenis also began pressuring Michael Forrest and Jacob Michael to remove their documentation of his anti-Semitic activities. And in that correspondence it was clear that he had experienced no real change of heart but that his latest claims of a change in direction were just another change in tactics for the sake of public relations. He affirmed that he still believed most of what he had written about Jews, in fact, going so far as to state to Forrest:

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

Then, in January 2008, Sungenis wrote an extensive article for Culture Wars magazine “The Old Covenant, Revoked or Not Revoked” which he also posted at BTF. In this article, he chose to slander his bishop, paint the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops with the broadest (and most condemnatory) brush and propounded a Catholic-Jewish conspiracy theory. All of this, mind you, after multiple apologies and promises to change. There is, of course, much more but it would take too much space and time to document it all.

Finally, on January 25, 2008, we arrive at apology number four: Response to P. Catan. In this apology, we come full circle with a slight twist.

Once again, Sungenis opted to use a tactic documented at the very beginning of this article: he removed his articles for the sake of peace:

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

After 5 years, there had only been a slight change. In 2002 Sungenis insisted that he “stood by” all of his anti-Jewish assertions. In 2008, he’s apparently not quite as sure any longer: saying “whether right or wrong” (although privately he insists he still stands by most of it). But still, it was for the sake of “peace”, not because he had actually done something wrong.

However, then we come to what is perhaps Sungenis’ most convoluted and conflicted apology to date:

“There is a fine line between criticizing the Jews and stirring up anti-Jewish sentiment, since many people, both Jew and Gentile, do not seem to have the ability to distinguish the two. I can also understand how and why, when my quotes are isolated and placed in this video, people who view it would react negatively and think I’m some kind of monster. My intentions could be very easily misunderstood, and the potentiality of that is very high.

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

Finally, whatever quotes are on that video, and whatever other quotes have been stored by various people from previous things I’ve said about the Jews that may be in other places on the web, I disavow myself of all of them. Further, I retract and apologize for anthing I have said about the Jews presented in that video. Although some of the material in those quotes I will reserve the right to hold and believe in my personal thoughts because I believe the material to be factual, nevertheless, I will not be expressing those opinions in my speeches, articles, website or any other public venue. Again, I will only be expressing my thoughts in public that deal with the theological dimensions, as our apostolate has done for the past several months.”

First, Sungenis laid blame for his difficulties on the inability of many readers to make the distinction between “criticizing the Jews" and "stirring up anti-Jewish sentiment.” Remarkably, Sungenis clearly doesn’t believe he suffers from this deficit himself.

Second, he implied that he has simply been “misunderstood” because he has been taken out of context. One may reasonably inquire how Sungenis believes he was simply taken out of context and misunderstood in these sample statements (which could be multiplied):

"the Jewish element has so infected our Catholic Church today...The infection of Judaism and Zionism has become the number one enemy for us."

“Unfortunately, the Jews haven’t changed in our day. They are still the same godless racists they were in Jesus’ day. Few of them have repented of their sins.”

"The Jews are godless and getting more ungodly with each passing day."

"as long as [my critics] hold to the Jewish racist heresies of Roy Schoeman and refuse to condemn the USCCB and other hierarchy for their capitulation to the Jews, then they will never be my friends, they will be my enemies. God will be the judge of who of us has been right."

"The intend to rule the world. And now the problem is that they want to rule the Catholic Church, too."

“Christianity is certainly not inherently violent, but unfortunately, Judaism tends to be, because real Judaism considers all non-Jews goyim that are less than animals, and this precipitates a loathing and violence against non-Jews.”

“A telltale sign in the movie industry of the shift in mores was demonstrated no better than in the Walt Disney Corporation. Founder Walter Disney was well-known in the 50s and 60s for wholesome family entertainment. Interestingly enough, Walt had a policy of not hiring Jewish people.”

“The charge of 'anti-Semitism' is nothing but a clever ploy”

Of course, this does not take into account his use of fraudulent quotes to smear Jews or the phenomenon of accusing essentially all of his critics of being “Jews”, partial Jews, having Jewish family members or “hiding” their Jewish ethnicity and then pushing a naïve follower, against his conscience, to attempt to “out” one of his critics as a Jew. (Article)

Third, Sungenis has already violated his promise to deal only with theological issues involving Jews (article 1, article 2 and article 3).

Fourth, Sungenis recently wrote in his article of February 9, 2008, The Old Covenant, Revoked or Not Revoked :

"I did decide to calm some of the storm by removing Jewish articles from my website..." (p.11)

He removed articles "to calm some of the storm."

And finally, Sungenis indicated that he “disavows” all the most problematic statements he has made about Jews, and that he apologizes for and retracts them. In isolation, this certainly looks more like an acceptable apology.

Unfortunately, in light of all the caveats and equivocations he already made leading up this more appropriate apology, it is impossible to know what he truly intended to convey. And to further undermine the import of this apology he went on to say that he still believes some of what he wrote “in my personal thoughts” because he believes it to be "factual", although he doesn’t tell us exactly what things he still believes. Also, as mentioned previously, he has indicated to others that he still believes most of what he wrote and even insisted that “no one” would ever change his mind about Jews. However, regardless, he claims he won’t be “expressing” those thoughts in public any longer.

According to Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, the definition of “disavow” is:

To disclaim knowledge of, connection with or responsibility for; repudiate; disown.

So, an explanation of how one may “disavow” an idea while simultaneously holding to it and believing it to be “factual” would certainly be helpful and interesting. (See "More Definition Difficulties")

Certainly, if Sungenis would at least refrain from publicly expressing his non-theological prejudices against Jews, that would be a positive development. Unfortunately, as documented, he has already violated that promise (article 1, article 2 and article 3). And also, one may be permitted to question whether anyone should be satisfied when a man who has a history of expressing seriously prejudiced views essentially says, “I’m still prejudiced, but I won’t express my prejudice so openly any longer. You can come back and trust me again.” That is, if such promises can even be believed at all (article).

Additionally, as documented here, it is highly unlikely that such a deeply held prejudice could ever truly remain buried. It will almost certainly rise to the surface, one way or another. And, at least based on history, it seems highly unlikely that Sungenis will not eventually return to full expression of his animus against Jews.

Last, we are left with Sungenis’ grave mistreatment of Roy Schoeman. It is almost one year now since he realized that the damaging quote he publicly attributed to Schoeman was most likely fraudulent. And it is six months since he received absolute confirmation that it is fraudulent. And yet, he has refused to issue a public retraction or apology. And he has yet to even send a personal apology to Schoeman.

In conclusion, as we have seen over the last several pages, Sungenis’ “works” speak clearly for themselves.

In 2006, in response to the Jewish controversies, Bob wrote:

“My sole goal is to promote the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ as best I can with the gifts that God has given me.” (CAI Open Letter)

Bob has falsely accused numerous good men, including his own bishop now, of having greater allegiances to Jewish causes than to Jesus Christ and His Church. Certainly, turnabout is fair play. May one not then seriously question Bob’s allegiances? Is his primary allegiance to himself and his anti-Jewish crusade or is it to the Church?

We genuinely hope and pray that Bob finally proves that the Church and Christ come first in his life and apostolate by complying with his bishop’s orders. For while it is plain that he has been given substantial gifts that may benefit the Church, he is so significantly lacking in the virtues of charity, prudence, wisdom and discernment that these gifts have too often been used to her serious detriment and the detriment of many of the people she was created by Christ to save.

In the event that Sungenis decides to continue disobeying his bishop’s orders, then each of us will be left with a serious decision to make. Are we “of Sungenis” or are we of Christ’s Church (cf. 1Cor. 1:10-17)? Sadly, he has "refused to listen even to the Church" (cf. Matt. 18:17). And the reader can discover the remainder of the Lord's instructions for himself.

At one point in his most recent apology, Sungenis complained:

“some people have an agenda to destroy me no matter what I do to rectify the situation.”

In 2005, Michael Forrest privately gave the following assessment and remedy to Sungenis, and it applies equally well today:

“after reviewing your apologies from 2002 and talking to you on the phone about the Jewish conspiracy theories and the Holocaust you relayed back in 2002, it is now clear to me that you never retracted or apologized for the accusations you leveled, nor did you ever intend to. And I believe this is precisely the reason the issue has never really died. I believe you ought to have issued a genuine retraction and apology.”

This is a matter of basic Catholic moral theology. When we sin, we specify what we have done, sincerely ask forgiveness, seek to make reparation for any harm done, and make a firm resolution to “sin no more.” Such a process opens up the floodgates of grace, making possible true healing and reconciliation.

May God give Bob the grace to step forward in faith and may he finally repent, bring forth the fruits of true repentance and so find forgiveness and reconciliation.

More Definition Difficulties

In Sungenis' latest article on "Jewish issues" he claims that his opponents won't define their terms:

"Although I am reluctant to borrow an axiom from one of the Enlightenment's icons, his words are quite apropos in this case. Voltaire once said: 'If you wish to converse with me, first define your terms.'" BTF Article, p.1

Sungenis so regularly engages in double standards that the irony of his complaint may be lost on him. It was Sungenis, after all, who had difficulty sticking to the dictionary definitions of salient words like "plagiarism", "vigilante", "calumny", and "anti-Semitism" and well established Catholic definitions for words like "Judaize". (See article)

The pattern continues now, with two new words: “libel” and “disavow.”


(and secondarily, “smear”)

Over the past several months, Bob Sungenis has threatened libel suits filed by his “pro-bono attorney” with relative abandon. He has done this most recently against the owners of a blog (Paul Tarsax and Mendel Levine) who posted a video of several of Sungenis' anti-Semitic quotes. (To be clear, RSATJ does not intend to endorse this blog in any way). When questioned about the video and the legitimacy of the libel charge by a CAI patron, Sungenis responded as follows:

“I think it's about time I addressed this infamous video made of me. Apparently, it was created by two Jewish people, Paul Tarsax and Mendel Levine. They first had the video on YouTube. Contrary to Tarsax's claims, the video was not removed from Youtube because the material was 'too graphic and upsetting,' but because my lawyer wrote to Youtube and advised them to remove it because it was libelous and went against Youtube's stated policies.” (Article)

“Although I am not sure of my lawyer's precise reasoning, I believe 'libelous' was used because we disavowed ourselves of the statements in writing to Paul Tarsax; the statements were no longer published by CAI; and the statements were taken out of context by Paul Tarsax. ~R-Sungenis" (Article)

Note that Sungenis once again leaps to the (incorrect) conclusion that anybody who opposes him on Jewish issues is probably a Jew. There are also some other questionable legal dynamics involved in the situation as well (Article). Perhaps most strange was Bob’s suggestion that the owners of the blog are ADL Jews posing as Catholics because it-

“wouldn’t be the first time the ADL has done so.”
BTF Forum

Returning to the primary issue, as even a CAI questioner pointed out, it is a logical impossibility to libel or slander (or “smear”, for that matter) an individual by quoting his actual words (Forum). The legal website given by this same CAI patron seems to comport well with other legal definitions readily available:

“Generally speaking, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm…Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium, such as a magazine or newspaper.” (Article)

This is an ongoing problem--Sungenis has complained that this blog has libeled him as well. But as always, truth is the first and best defense against such a charge:

“The most important defense to an action for defamation is ’truth’, which is an absolute defense to an action for defamation.” (Article)

The information provided at this blog has been amply documented from Sungenis’ own words. And according the the legal definition, you can't libel somebody by citing what they have actually written and said (neither can you “smear” someone in such a way, as Sungenis has charged). Whether or not Bob has removed his anti-Semitic statements and has now promised to refrain from making such statements in the future or not, the fact is, he said or wrote them all. The authors of this blog have offered several times to remove any information that is demonstrably false--to date Sungenis has declined to even make the attempt.

Finally, the issue Sungenis has attempted to raise of being "taken out of context" is specious as well. It would be most interesting to see Bob attempt to salvage such ugly quotes by providing further context from the articles and statements in which they originally appeared: Article 1 Article 2


(and secondarily, “retract” and “apologize”)

Recently, Bob made the following statement:

“Finally, whatever quotes are on that video, and whatever other quotes have been stored by various people from previous things I’ve said about the Jews that may be in other places on the web, I disavow myself of all of them. Further, I retract and apologize for anthing I have said about the Jews presented in that video.” (Forum)

While this is certainly a positive development, a few things deserve note.

First, after years of putting so much bigoted material front and center on his website, he opted to make this statement in the middle of a Q and A that isn’t even located at the main CAI/BTF website.

Second, his use of the word “disavow” is clintonian, at best (see: The Clinton Connection). After saying that he disavows, retracts and apologizes for the “quotes that are on that video” and whatever other problematic “previous things I’ve said about Jews” he also makes the following eye-opening admissions and statements:

“Although some of the material in those quotes I will reserve the right to hold and believe in my personal thoughts because I believe the material to be factual, nevertheless, I will not be expressing those opinions in my speeches, articles, website or any other public venue.”

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

According to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the definition of “disavow” is:

To disclaim knowledge of, connection with or responsibility for; repudiate; disown.

As such, it is oxymoronic (or duplicitous) to say that one “disavows” something while simultaneously professing to “hold and believe” that same thing in one’s “personal thoughts.” To disavow is to repudiate or disown. This is yet another example of Bob giving mixed and/or outright false impressions about what he has actually done in his multiple “apologies.” And sadly, since 2002, some people have believed that false impression...although, it seems, fewer and fewer each time.

Admittedly, he has broken new ground with this latest apology. He has said that he “retracts” and “apologizes” for his remarks. Would that he stopped there. Unfortunately, he also says : 1) he doesn’t take a position as to whether his remarks were “right or wrong”, 2) his remarks were removed only “so there could be peace between me and my Jewish opponents”, and finally, 3) He’s stopped making such remarks “because such political, cultural and social criticism of the Jews can so easily be misunderstood.”

Like all of Bob’s “apologies”, this latest still essentially seems to boil down to: “I’m tired of taking so much heat, so I’ll take down the material that’s attracting the most negative attention and ‘apologize’ for underestimating how sensitive people are to the truth about Jews…even though I was pretty much spot-on about everything.”

Voltaire was right. But it seems Sungenis has taken him to mean that he should feel free to create his own definitions.

CASB2's Missing Imprimatur: The Real Reason the Bishop Said "No"?

In his January 2008 article for Culture Wars, "The Old Covenant: Revoked or Not Revoked? A Review of the PBS Documentary: Jews and Christians: A Journey of Faith", Bob Sungenis offers his readers an explanation as to why his study bible on The Apocalypse of St. John was turned down for an imprimatur.

Our readers will recall that this blog uncovered several interesting details concerning CASB2's conspicuous lack of an imprimatur; the most important of these details included the fact that Bob and his associates engaged in a campaign of deception in order to hide the fact that the imprimatur had been denied because of CASB2's treatment of Jewish issues (link).

In an attempt, no doubt, to recover from the damage of these revelations, Bob tried to justify himself with the following words:

Referring back to the United States Catechism's provocative statement on page 131 ("Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them"), the relevance of the USCCB's liberal stance on the Jews was brought home to me loud and clear when 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." He made this accusation without pointing out even one example in the book where I had violated Church teaching, and further added that he would accept no more discussion on the issue. ("Covenant", p. 11)

Our first step here will be to break down this rather lengthy excuse and boil it down to the bare essentials:

1) Bishop Rhoades denied an imprimatur to CASB2

2) Bishop Rhoades allegedly said that CASB2 "[lacked] adherence to authoritative Church teaching on Judaism"

3) Bishop Rhoades cited page 131 of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults (USCCA) in support of this conclusion

4) Bob assumed that the specific sentence on page 131 referred to by the bishop is the sentence dealing with the "eternally valid" Mosaic covenant

5) Bob further assumed that this must mean his book got turned down because "it called for the conversion of the Jews and held them responsible for their historic disbelief in Christ"

6) Bob concluded that his bishop agrees with "the USCCB's liberal stance on the Jews", that "Rhoades and the USCCB [are] attempting to propagate [erroneous theology] to unsuspecting Catholics", specifically the "Dual Covenant theology that he and USCCB [are] apparently promoting." ("Covenant", p. 11)

To make the matter plain: Bob accuses Bishop Rhoades of censoring him because the bishop holds to Dual Covenant theology, which Bob considers to be a heresy. And he bases this accusation on the fact that his bishop made a reference to "page 131" of the USCCA (as well as two other objectionable "observations").

Bob is wrong for three reasons:

1) Bishop Rhoades has now directly refuted Bob's accusations about him [see a complete account here.]

2) There are six sentences dealing with the Jewish people in this section of the USCCA, not just one. Yet, remarkably, Bob jumped to the conclusion that the one potentially problematic sentence must be the one to which his bishop referred.

3) Bishop Rhoades does not interpret this one sentence in the same way Bob does (that is, using a "hermeneutic of suspicion" that seeks the worst possible meaning first)

So why did the bishop reject Bob's book?

Here is the full paragraph of the USCCA to which Bishop Rhoades referred (addressing Jews and Judaism):

The Catholic Church also acknowledges her special relationship to the Jewish people. The Second Vatican Council declared that "this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts he makes nor of the calls he issues" (LG, no. 16). When God called Abraham out of Ur, he promised to make of him a "great nation." This began the history of God's revealing his divine plan of salvation to a chosen people with whom he made enduring covenants. Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them. At the same time, "remembering, then, her common heritage with the Jews and moved not by any political consideration, but solely by the religious motivation of Christian charity, she [the Church] deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of antisemitism leveled at any time or from any source against Jews" (Second Vatican Council, Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions [Nostra Aetate; NA], no. 4).

The actual reason why Bob's bishop declined to grant an imprimatur becomes more obvious when we look the entirety of the paragraph in question. It speaks of several things which Bob has repeatedly gone to extraordinary lengths to repudiate, dismiss, minimize or re-define:

1) The Church's "special relationship to the Jewish people."

2) The quote from Nostra Aetate regarding our "common heritage with the Jews" that repudiates "all hatreds, persecutions, displays of antisemitism leveled at any time or from any source against Jews."

3) The acknowledgment of God's abiding interest in, continuing concern for, and unique relationship with the Jewish people.

Could it be, perhaps, that Bob's CASB2 smacked too much of that anti-Jewish sentiment that, as we have amply shown in many articles on this blog, so permeates all of his writing and thought?

Why don't we look at CASB2 and verify it for ourselves?

Barely 30 pages into the text, Bob deals with the passage "every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him."

First, Bob applies this text simultaneously (and confusingly) to both the Jews of the future and all the Jews of past ages:

If the reference to "those who pierced him" is more general, it may refer to Jews living at the Second Coming who represent all the Jews from the past who have disbelieved in Christ (CASB2, p. 31).

Then, Bob turns the interpretation on its head, and says it refers to the Jews of the first century, who will "be raised from the dead in order to see Christ coming to earth at the end of the world". (ibid.) He writes, "John intends to convey the idea that the Jews, who had disbelieved Christ at his First Coming, and continue to do so in their blindness (Rm 11:7-8), will, on the Last Day, finally see and be forced to accept that the man they crucified was, indeed, the very Son of God" (ibid).

Indulging in a bit of theatric melodrama for a moment, Bob continues, "Thus the Jews will be beside themselves with grief and vexation when they finally realize that they were totally wrong. But it will be too late, for the Second Coming is the time of judgment, not repentance, and this is the reason they will be 'wailing'" (ibid, p. 32).

He then ties this "every one who pierced him" phrase to Zech. 12:10, and notes that it has reference to the Roman soldier who literally pierced Christ's side - but then, amazingly, he manages to bring even this literal/historical fact back to an accusation almost entirely against the Jews, while excusing the Romans:

The phrase in Zc 12:10, "they have pierced," is plural, and thus the soldier of Jn 19:34 represents both the Romans and the Jews who were involved in the death of Jesus. But though the Romans were involved, it is well known from both Scripture and Catholic commentary that the Roman officials were instigated into the crucifixion because of the hatred the Jewish leaders had against Christ (ibid, p. 32).

Bob's campy and contrived pathos is bad enough, as he sketches for the reader a picture of the first-century/present-day/future Jews (he apparently doesn't care which) being "beside themselves with grief" at the moment when they "finally realize" that they were not only wrong, but "totally wrong" - but alas! it is "too late" for them, for this is "the time of judgment, not repentance."

But much worse is the fact that Bob is apparently so driven to keep the reader fully focused on the Jewish fault at the Crucifixion, that he introduces a novel interpretation wherein even the Roman soldier who actually pierced Christ becomes a symbol of "the Romans and the Jews" who killed Christ - and when he says "Romans and Jews", he really means just "the Jews" because "though the Romans were involved," everyone knows through the teaching of "both Scripture and Catholic commentary" (you'll have to fill in the blank here with titles, because Bob doesn't cite any) that the Romans were only "instigated [sic] into the crucifixion" (Noah Webster, please call your office) because of the "hatred" of "the Jewish leaders."

Moving on to the passage that speaks of "the synagogue of Satan", Bob does not hesitate to interpret this as a reference to "the Jews". He doesn't explain, he doesn't persuade, he doesn't interact with any existing scholarship that argues that these people who "say they are Jews, but are not" are really not rank-and-file ethnic Jews - he just assumes that conclusion. But then he goes a step further:

. . . Satan is the instigator behind the attack against the Church. He is not a figment of our imagination. He is as real as real can be, and he is, indeed, very powerful. He wants worship and will settle for nothing less. He has incited the Jews against Christianity just as he incited Judas against Jesus (ibid, p. 50).

Bob's misstep here is that he cannot seem to utilize any kind of verbal precision when making these sorts of statements about "the Jews". He does not discriminate - the "synagogue of Satan" is simply equated with "the Jews", and Satan "has incited" (present-continuous) the Jews against us. Because "Most Jews simply would not accept Jesus", says Bob, "they became the sworn enemy of Christianity." (ibid.) Missing from this rather sensitive discussion, which Bob is content to handle with sandpaper and steel wool, is any distinction between the select group of first century Jews who did indeed persecute the Church, and the generic "Jews" of all time. For Bob, it is enough to wax schmaltzy about that old Devil who is "real as real can be", and who - it must be repeated - "has incited the Jews against Christianity."

It is beginning to become clearer why Bishop Rhoades chose not to sanction this manuscript with the Church's own seal of approval.

Moving further into the book, we arrive at Bob's commentary on Apocalypse Chapter 7. After eleven pages, there, sticking out like the kosher pig's feet, is the bold heading: "Romans 11 and the Future of Israel." For the next sixteen pages, the reader is treated to a full-blown soap-box sermon on the following subjects: Israel is no longer the Chosen People, there will be no special future conversion of the Jews, the hardness that has come upon the Jews will endure until the end of time, the Old Covenant has been revoked, Israel has no right to the Promised Land, the Church Fathers do not teach a future special conversion of Israel, and the "constant teaching of the Fathers of the Church" is that the "Olive Tree" of Romans 11 refers to Christ and not to Israel.

The words "propaganda piece" are almost too perfect to pass up.

What is a little more than entertaining is the way Bob cannot seem to make up his mind concerning the number of Fathers who hold to a special, future conversion of the Jews. In a dialogue with John Pacheco, he wrote, "Only two Fathers hold out for any future large restoration of faith in Israel". (The Fathers and the Return of the Jews) Later, however, in another article, he wrote, "Only three Fathers hold out for a future and distinct conversion of Jews." (Judaizers in the Catholic Church)

In his CASB2, he admits that "a few Fathers anticipated a significant conversion of the Jews". (p. 147) But a little later on the same page, he writes, "a little over half a dozen [Fathers] speak about an anticipated conversion of Jews," although he claims (on the strength of his own say-so, and without offering the least shred of proof) that "half of them apply it exclusively to the salvation of a remnant during the Church age". (p. 147) Note well: as of this writing, Bob has yet to demonstrate that the word "remnant" represents an insignificant number; for example, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that at "the end of the world ... the remnants of Israel will be converted" (Summa, I-IIae, q. 102, a. 5, reply to obj. 5), but elsewhere he shows that by "remnants" he means all of the Jews living at that point in history: omnis Israel salvus fiet, non particulariter sicut modo, sed universaliter omnes. ("All Israel will be saved, not individually as it is now, but all universally"; Super Ep. B. Pauli ad Rom., Cap. 11, Lect. 4)

Bob has yet to demonstrate, when the other Fathers or Popes use the term "remnant" in reference to the future conversion of the Jews, that this term is incompatible with the idea of a significant majority of Jews living in the end time, as we saw in St. Thomas Aquinas.

Be that as it may, Bob moves from "two Fathers" to "three Fathers", from "three Fathers" to "a few Fathers", and from "a few Fathers" to "half a dozen". Last year, in response to Ben Douglass, he admitted that "there is a prevalent opinion in the early Church that the last generation of Jews might be saved en masse" ("I'm Mad, and I'm not Going to Take it Anymore", p. 19), although he quickly shrugged this off by adding, "but there was also a prevalent opinion endorsing Premillennial eschatology in the early Church".

In his review of Jacob Michael's Never Revoked by God, Bob writes, "Mr. Michael cites Pope St. Gregory the Great as supporting his view, and rightly so. But what Michael doesn't tell us is that Gregory is merely reiterating the views of a few Fathers who went before him, since Gregory doesn't offer any exegesis of the passages from which he quotes." ("Jacob Michael's 'Never Revoked by God': A Review by Robert Sungenis, Ph.D.", p. 13) He quickly lapses into an exegetical argument with the sainted Pope ("Gregory's citation of Isaiah 61:7 as applying to the Jews of the future is undercut, etc., etc."), but not before the audience has hopefully picked up on his unintended admission: when Pope St. Gregory the Great spoke of a future significant conversion of the Jews, he was "reiterating the views of a few Fathers who went before him." When a Sainted Pope "reiterates" the position of saints "who went before him", Catholics call this "handing on a tradition."

When it comes to preserving his interpretive bias, however, Bob is unshakeable, and un-teachable; even the witness of the Church Fathers, Doctors, and Sainted Popes to the contrary will be met with protestations from Bob like the following:

  • "some of the Fathers were poor at exegeting Scripture." (Will Enoch and Elijah Return to Preach to the Jews?, p. 3)

  • "Some of [the Fathers] did not even know the languages of the Bible, Greek and Hebrew." (ibid., p. 3)

  • "with the tools of biblical exegesis we have today, as well as the exegetical knowledge and easy access of Greek and Hebrew not available to some of the Fathers, contemporary exegetes of Scripture have a distinct advantage in discovering the truths of Holy Writ that were not always available to the Fathers." (ibid., p. 4)

  • "Of the dozen or so Fathers that speak about a future conversion of the Jews, only superficial and question-begging assertions are made of Rm 11:25-27, and often with some obvious blunders." (ibid., p. 11)

  • "Gregory’s treatment of both Rm 11:25 and Is 61:7 contain obvious blunders" (ibid., p. 20)

  • "Gregory interprets the Greek word [houtos] as 'and as follows,' ... But as we noted previously, [houtos] does not mean 'then' or 'afterwards'" (ibid., pp. 20-21)

  • "Here we see Jerome interpreting the Greek adverb [houtos] as if it were the word 'then.' It seems that the Fathers were so conditioned by the Chiliasts that went before them, even when the definitions of Greek words were staring them in the face, that they didn't see the real meaning of the word." (ibid., p. 21, fn. 34)

  • "As a result of [Augustine's] exegetical duplicity, Augustine and his followers subsequently produced many forced interpretations of Ap 11:5-8 and Rm 11:25-26 to make room for both a Jewish conversion and a Jewish evangelism to the Gentiles." (ibid., p. 17)

  • "As we will see, not one Father addressed the exegetical details of the passages in question, much less could any of them come to firm conclusions about their interpretations." (ibid., p. 20)

  • "Not knowing Hebrew, Chrysostom and Augustine often end up in unsupported exegesis by relying only on the LXX" (Intense Dialogue on Romans 11)

  • "In fact, Chrysostom incorrectly turns the Greek 'houtos' in Romans 11:26 from its function as an adverb modifying how Israel will be saved into a future time element for the salvation." (Judaizers in the Catholic Church)

Bob's demand for proof of a "consensus" (which he arbitrarily defines as "unanimous consent", cf. Intense Dialogue on Romans 11) on this point is disingenuous anyway; perhaps finally realizing that the patristic witness against him really is quite substantial, he has begun to forge a new position, a position he had not previously promoted:

It is the divine origin of a particular doctrine that makes the doctrine a requirement of belief for salvation, not the majority or common opinion of the Fathers, the medievals or theologians and prelates of today (Enoch and Elijah, p. 3).

. . . no Catholic is under any compulsion whatsoever to abide by whatever was predicted about Israel among even a majority of patristic writers ... even if the Fathers are in consensus on a given topic, we are still permitted to add information that has been gleaned from fresh studies of Scripture (Never Revoked, p. 12).

In other words, we're dealing with a lost cause: if Bob is shown that a Father or Doctor of the Church believes in the conversion of the Jews, he will dismiss their opinion because they failed to give a thorough textual exegesis; if patristic textual exegesis can be demonstrated, or it can be shown that a Father or Doctor interprets Scripture in a particular way, Bob will not hesitate to belittle that Father or Doctor's knowledge of the original languages or exegetical skill; in any case, he will say, no consensus (read: total unanimity) exists; but if that consensus can be shown, he will still duck and dodge and retort that we need not agree with the patristic majority view ... when he says so, anyway. Certainly we've all witnessed this kind of (mis)treatment of the Fathers of the Church. But it comes from certain Protestant apologists.

In short, Bob is making this up as he goes along, evading the evidence at all costs so long as it allows him to maintain his negative view that there will be no significant future conversion of the Jews - remember, Bob has publicly accepted as the "unofficially declared" teaching of the Church the position that the anti-Christ will be a Jew, and he does so on the testimony of maybe two or three Fathers, without once demanding proof of textual exegesis and unanimous consent. And now he has declared in his CASB II "the constant teaching of the Fathers of the Church" was that Christ is the Olive Tree of Romans 11 (see point #5). As such, the one consistent rule of Bob's theological world seems to be: listen to me, I alone have figured it out!

As a side note, Bob ridicules several Fathers above for interpreting houtos as "and THEN" instead of "and IN THIS MANNER"; in particular, we saw him criticize St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom (a native Greek speaker!), and Pope St. Gregory the Great for interpreting the Greek in this way (thus proving that even if you do show Bob the patristic exegetical witness, he'll just argue that their exegesis is wrong, even if they were native Greek speakers). It is worth pointing out that, here too, the patristic majority is against Bob:

. . . the Greek Patristic literature in the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae CD-ROM ... shows that kai houtos in Rom 11:26 was most commonly (73% of 60 citations!) understood in the temporal sense of "and then." For Greek Patristic texts frequently substitute for kai houtos some other expression, such as tote or meta touto ..." (J.M. Scott, "And then All Israel Will Be Saved", in J.M. Scott [ed.], Restoration: Old Testament, Jewish, and Christian Perspectives [Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2001], p. 491).

We will not hold our collective breath waiting for Bob to admit that his exegesis on this point stands soundly corrected by a large majority of the Greek Fathers, who forgot more Greek than Bob Sungenis will ever know.

Not only is he treating his audience to an improv act, he is also willfully ignoring and suppressing evidence. Before CASB2 was published, Bob purchased, read, and wrote a review of Jacob Michael's book Never Revoked by God; in that book, some twenty Fathers, saints, Doctors of the Church, Medievals, etc., were brought forward as witnesses to this common Catholic belief. For Bob to still move forward and publish a book that says "only a little over half a dozen [Fathers] speak about an anticipated conversion of Jews", when he had seen solid evidence to the contrary, illustrates what kind of person we are dealing with.

The way in which Bob's animus towards the Jews permeates his theology and hampers his exegetical ability is also evident in other ways in this bible study. At one point, while discussing the army of 200,000,000 that will destroy "a third of mankind", Bob somehow manages to bring the discussion around to the issue of Jewish unbelief. he writes:

In the time of Elijah, there were approximately 3 million men in Israel. A million and a half came out of Egypt 600 years earlier ... so an estimate of 3 million in the time of Elijah is conservative. But out of that huge number, God says that only 7,000 could be found in the whole nation who had not bowed the knee to the false god, Baal. That is 0.23% of the people (p. 187).

He said the same things in his infamous radio interview with Mark Dankhof, only using slightly different numbers:

... if we say a million or two million people back in that time, in 800 BC, and as Paul says, that God told Elijah that "I have 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Ba'al", well 7,000 out of a nation of a million or so is .7 percent, ok? Now, you take that .7 percent, that's much more of people that were saved in Israel in 800 BC than we see today, in Modern Israel, where it's .08 percent, you see. So the statistics don't lie, I mean, if you look at them closely, there haven't been any real conversions to Jesus Christ from Israel - these people are as blind as they were 2,000 years ago!

Aside from the fact that Bob is pulling these numbers out of thin air, a more fundamental problem exists with this smoke-and-mirror show. Bob says "the statistics don't lie", but in this case the corollary is all too true: liars often use statistics. Bob breathes new life into the saying, "57% of all statistics are made up on the spot."

In both of these quotes, he uses the seven-thousand faithful Israelites of Elijah's day to start building his line graphs and pie charts of fabricated percentages as though "seven thousand" is absolutely and without question, literal. But the actual biblical text from which Bob continually wrenches this number suggests a different sort of story.

. . . you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Elisha ... you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And him who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him (1 Kings 19:15-18).

So what is the text saying? Who are these seven thousand? Are these just seven thousand souls that have not bowed the knee to Baal? They are at least that, but read closely: they are the "seven thousand" that God will "leave" as survivors after the swords of Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha have finished dispensing God's justice.

The problem is simply this: if this number is literal, the passage is saying that God intends to wipe out hundreds of thousands - millions, if we believe Bob's numbers - and leave only seven thousand survivors in the Northern Kingdom. It's not that this scenario couldn't be true - it's that there is no record of such a scenario in Scripture or secular history. God did literally use Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha to administer the sword and slay the wicked, but it seems far more likely that they left more than seven thousand survivors in the Northern Kingdom.

The point? The number seven thousand is very likely a symbolic number - the covenant number, seven, multiplied by a thousand, showing that God has indeed preserved a faithful, covenanted remnant for Himself. More than a literal seven thousand, but a remnant all the same.

In fact, two renowned biblical scholars, Fr. George Leo Haydock and Dom Bernard Orchard both raise this very issue and treat the symbolic interpretation of this passage as the more likely:

Dom Bernard Orchard, A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, p 337:

The 'Remnant' (this is the first instance of an idea common in the 8th century prophets), from which flourishing religious life was to grow, is given in a figurative number, the 7 suggesting health. Perhaps however, the actual number of the orthodox in the North is indicated.

Fr. Leo Haydock, Comprehensive Catholic Commentary, p 451:

God lets him know that he is not left alone, but that many thousands (C.) even in Israel still continue faithful; so far was the true Church from being in danger of perishing entirely. H. - Seven is often put for a great number. Prov. xxiv 16. Yet some suppose, (C.) that only this number served God out of 1,110,000 men in Israel.

But did Bob inform his readers of this more likely interpretation? No. He only presented the most negative (and less likely) interpretation of this number and then even proceeded to use it to arrive at his own estimated percentages, all in order to convince his readers how faithless the Jews really are. Perhaps this is simply a hangover from his years as a protégé to Harold Camping, a man infamous for such numerological shenanigans.

As we continue our tour of the Apocalypse, we finally reach the chapter on the Whore of Babylon, and it is here that Bob can no longer restrain himself from spewing forth things he's been wanting to say about the Jews. On pages 346-347, Bob goes on about the Jews for several paragraphs.

He notes that "Judaism was a grave problem in the first century Church"; then we get a short history lesson on how the Jews "migrated to Babylon where they stayed for the next thousand years", before "they were driven out of Babylon and settled to the northeast in the land of Khazaria" (p. 346).

Going on, he explains that "By the second millennium, many of these same Jews had become engrossed in mysticism, producing the Kabbala and the Zohar." At last, he begins to drive towards the sweeping conclusion:

All of the writings of the Jews had one common trait - they were thoroughly anti-Christ and anti-Christianity. Hence the same antagonism towards Christianity that began in the 'synagogue of Satan' in the first century continued to brew throughout the first millennium and finally erupted in the second. It is predicted by many of the Catholic saints and doctors that the Jews will become a significant force in the oppression of Christianity in the future, some stating that the Antichrist himself will come from the Jewish race. Thus, if there is a more specific historical/apocalyptic relevance to the title 'Whore of Babylon', it could be said that Apocalypse 17-18 is prophesying that Israel, who was divorced from God for her whoredom and sent to ancient Babylon ..., would emigrate to Babylon and remain in her whorish state, from which she would come forth once again in the last days as one of the main persecutors and evil influences upon the Church (pp. 346-347).

And there it is. The fact that the Jews were twice exiled into Babylon is enough for Bob to conclude that the Jews are the famous "Whore" of the Apocalypse. He continues this though a few pages later:

In a similar vein, the church at Smyrna is confronted with the 'synagogue of Satan,' which refers to the religion of Judaism that has now become an antagonist to the Gospel. The Jewish religion has been forsaken and it has become part of the 'Whore of Babylon.' It is this whore who is now trying to entice the Christians away from Jesus Christ, and therefore they are doing the work of "Satan" (p. 376).

As with his previous statements, so also here Bob displays an incredible lack of precision and prudence. He leaves the reader with the distinct impression that Judaism is Satanic, that the Jews are doing "the work of 'Satan'", that the Jews are the "Whore of Babylon" who "is now trying to entice the Christians away from Jesus Christ." He paints with an extremely broad brush, and smears the colors of his anti-Jewish animus on the wall with incredible sloppiness.

Why did Bishop Rhoades reject CASB2 for an imprimatur? Was it because Bob "called for the conversion of the Jews and held them responsible for their historic disbelief in Christ", as he alleges? Or was it, rather, because of paragraphs like the above, which paint "the Jews" indiscriminately in the most evil light?

Was it, perhaps, because the bishop read statements in CASB2 such as the ones we saw above, and when he compared these statements to the USCCBC teaching (from Vatican 2), "she [the Church] deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of antisemitism leveled at any time or from any source against Jews," he had no choice but to judge that Bob's book lacked "adherence to authoritative Church teaching on Judaism"?