“The New Covenant in Christ has superseded the Mosaic (or “Old”) covenant. The term ‘supersession,’ which was first used by an Anglican minister, has subsequently been used by some Catholics to describe this truth. It appears in no magisterial texts; yet, as originally used, it does accurately describe Catholic teaching.”
“While the Church continues to grapple with certain nuances in the relationship among Jews, Christians, and God, she has never taught the dual covenant theory…”
“the dual covenant theory…fundamentally compromises the Church’s Great Commission, given by Christ (cf. Mt. 28:18–20). Additionally, the public advocacy of this theory has created an unwarranted expectation among our Jewish brethren that in turn leads to their understandable frustration each time the Church reaffirms that the Gospel and the Church are for all men.”
“the dual covenant theory holds…that [the Jewish people] have their own path to salvation through Judaism and therefore do not need to be—and should not be—presented with the Gospel and invited to expressly enter the Church (which is false).”
“The Scriptures, the Fathers, and the Magisterium consistently testify that the Good News of Jesus Christ and His Church is for all men—Jew and Gentile alike.”
“God has given man one sure path to salvation, and that path is through the definitive and universal covenant in Jesus Christ by means of His Church. It is a serious error to direct anyone away from that sure path, regardless of the intention.”
R. Sungenis: "Well, at least Forrest and Palm are not teaching the...heresy that Jews don't need Jesus Christ to be saved, as was Cardinal Keeler in the 2002 Reflections on Covenant and Missions document and the 2006 Catholic Catechism for Adults...for that Forrest and Palm are to be commended." (See here).
Dear Michael and David,
Thank you very much for your article All in the Family: Christians, Jews and God. I appreciate your good scholarship and your fidelity to the teachings of the Church. Your reflections bring much needed clarity to a complex topic. I believe your critique of both the dual covenant theory and extreme supersessionism is right on the mark.
I was also happy to support the Note on Ambiguities in "Reflections on Covenant and Mission" recently issued by the Committee on Doctrine and the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conclusion of that Note states: "With Saint Paul, we acknowledge that God does not regret, repent of, or change his mind about the "gifts and the call" that he has given to the Jewish people (Romans 11:29). At the same time, we also believe that the fulfillment of the covenants, indeed, of all God's promises to Israel, is found only in Jesus Christ. By God's grace, the right to hear this Good News belongs to every generation. Fulfilling the mandate given her by the Lord, the Church, respecting human freedom, proclaims the truths of the Gospel in love."
Thank you for proclaiming the truths of the Gospel in love!
Gratefully yours in Christ,
+Kevin C. RhoadesBishop of Harrisburg
It's ambiguous, but it's not heresy. . . . I'll grant you that your reasoning COULD be a possible interpretation, but the point is that you don't know it IS the interpretation, at least not well enough to levy the charge of heresy. Heresy does not deal with ambiguities. It sanctions direct and provable statements of error. . . . I really don't have to prove anything. George is the one who has to prove something, since he is the one charging the CCC with heresy. . . . Heresy is a deliberate, calculated and unequivocal statement to circumvent established dogma. . . . I simply would not use the word "heresy" at all, . . . "Proximate to heresy" is a juridical term, and when you get into canonical jurisprudence, then you're required to give substantial evidence for the accusation and conviction. If you can't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, you don't have a case. ~ R. Sungenis
When we are dealing with prelates of the Church, the best place to go to define heresy is canon law, and the previous decisions made by the Church upon its formal heretics. As such, the Church has always weighed all the evidence before it makes a judgment on whether something is heretical, or whether a person is a heretic. In canonical terminology, "heresy" requires two things: (1) that the doctrine being denied has been defined by the Church at the highest levels of her authority (e.g., de fide, de fide Catholica, de fide devina et Catholica, or de fide ecclesiastica definita, or de fide divina). (2) The person would have to recognize the teaching at this level, and would have to give a specific denial of it for it to be canonically called "heresy" and for him to be classed as a "heretic." Even then, the Church gives room for the suspected heretic to recant or modify his views when probed by the Church, which is also a canonical process. If he persists, then he is treated accordingly.
In addition, when the person who is being accused is the pope, even much more caution has to be added to the procedure. If someone doesn't like something that the pope said, he can raise his objections in the spirit of humility and he has a right to be heard. But he does not have the right to call the pope's statement a "heresy," since that is a term reserved to canonical courts who alone have the right and authority to judge the issue.
Moreover, in my own personal experience, at least in half the cases I've seen concerning complaints about either Ratzinger or Pope Benedict XVI, it is the accuser whose theology is a bit askew or extreme, and it is the accuser in many of the other cases who is much too quick to set himself up as the judge and jury, and with little room for giving his victim the benefit of the doubt. ~ R. Sungenis
- Where has the Church ever defined, or even used, the terms "supersessionism" or "antisupersessionsm" at all - let alone "at the highest levels of her authority"? Nowhere. Then how could Bishop Rhoades or Fr. King "recognize the teaching"?
- Where has Bishop Rhoades ever given a "specific denial of it"? Nowhere.
- Did Sungenis raise his objections "in the spirit of humility"? No. By his own account, he accused Bishop Rhoades of holding to heresy and threatened to try to "expose" him to the Vatican.
- Did Sungenis have the right to call Fr. King's statement a heresy? No. By his own standards, that is reserved to canonical courts "who alone have the right and authority to judge the issue."
- Has Sungenis been "much too quick to set himself up as the judge and jury, and with little room for giving his victim the benefit of the doubt"? Yes.
- Sungenis has never even spoken to the bishop about his views on the Old Covenant. The evidence for his accusations is entirely speculative, requiring one to draw negative inferences from circumstantial evidence that are unwarranted and unjustified. Therefore, by his own stated standards (noted above), his accusations are groundless and they should never have been made.
- Perfectly orthodox answers His Excellency provided to a series of questions posed by Michael Forrest that Bob personally found to be suspicious or evasive. Bob completely ignored the fact that the bishop unequivocally and explicitly affirmed the Church’s missionary mandate to the Jewish people – something that is flatly rejected by adherents to the dual covenant theory. He also completely ignored the language that Bishop Rhoades employed from Dominus Iesus that affirms there is one economy of salvation – not two – and that economy of salvation is through Jesus Christ by means of His Church (here). Again, Bob also seems unaware that Bishop Rhoades fully supported and voted for the change to the problematic sentence on page 131 of the USCCA – although we reported this over a years ago (here).
- Alleged statements made by Fr. King, the Vicar General – not Bishop Rhoades – that were negative in regard to “supersessionism.” Previously at this blog (here) and also in All in the Family (here), we pointed out that the term “supersessionism” is not even of Catholic origin. While used by some Catholics, it appears in no Catholic magisterial texts and has no precise, Catholic definition. Not unlike the term “proselytism,” it can and does carry very different connotations, implications and nuances (here). As such, it is completely inappropriate for Bob or anyone to utilize this word as a sort of absolute litmus test for orthodoxy (for an important discussion of Bob's misuse of the term "supersessionism," click here and here).