Sunday, August 5, 2007

Recent Developments at CAI

In light of the recent positive developments at CAI concerning Robert Sungenis and his bishop, His Excellency Kevin C. Rhoades, it is appropriate to refrain from further comment about these developments while Mr. Sungenis and his bishop work through any of the various issues that are being resolved.

RSATJ asks our readers to pray for all the individuals involved, that they may expeditiously achieve a final, positive resolution to this situation.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Perpetually Prolific Robert Sungenis

If it were a virtue to be prolific, Robert Sungenis would certainly be well on his way to sainthood. Unfortunately, without either a sufficient internal editor or an external editor who is willing and able to contain him, Sungenis’ prolificacy is far too often an engine of inaccuracy, misinformation, bigotry and a host of other negatives.

On the innocuous and humorous side, take this example from Sungenis’ latest attempt at a defense. On the homepage of CAI, the article is entitled, “Jacob Michael: An Ass in Sheep’s Clothing”. This title/link was likely entered by someone like CAI “Media Technician” Laurence Gonzaga. However, click on the link and look closely at the title on the actual article as entitled by Sungenis himself:

, Jacob Michael: as Ass in Sheep’s Clothing

Perhaps we will later learn that Sungenis inserted the leading comma for dramatic effect? And “as Ass in Sheep’s Clothing”? Will Sungenis perchance later inform us that he was framing the discussion as something along the lines of a television series?

Jerry Mathers: as the Beaver.

Jacob Michael: as Ass in Sheep’s Clothing.

Next, we move on to more serious matters in the body of Sungenis’ latest attempt at a defense of his shoddy scholarship:

Sungenis: Anyone who knows anything about Carl Sagan knows that the comment about God being an “overstuffed white male” is his. He’s said it many times in interviews and other venues. But Mr. Michael doesn’t know anything about Carl Sagan, obviously. (,JMAASC, p. 3)

Sungenis’ smugness is risible in light of the fact that he only just now scrambled to find documentation for this Sagan quote, well after the publication of his book. If he was so well-acquainted with Sagan, knowing that he has said it “many times”, then the documentation should have been a snap to provide from the beginning. But it was nowhere to be found in Galileo Was Wrong. Perhaps he ought to consider paying his critics for editorial oversight rather than complaining.

This is all the more eye-opening when one considers that he received a “doctorate” for the research that comprises the vast majority of this book. In fact, Sungenis’ research was specifically singled out by Calamus for its excellence. (As a side note, it turns out that the one bogus organization willing to sell “accreditation” status to Calamus is now out of business: click here.)

And yet, perhaps even more remarkably, when Sungenis knows he is being watched closely for accuracy, he still can’t help flubbing this simple quote. Notice, he quotes Sagan as writing of God as an “overstuffed white male”. But Sagan did not write this. Even earlier in Sungenis’ own piece, he managed to quote Sagan correctly as writing of God as “an outsize, light-skinned male” (The Varieties of Scientific Experience, p. 149) and "an oversized white male" (U.S. News and World Report, Dec 23, 1991, p. 61. Although, interestingly, U.S. News and World Report itself gives no source for this quote).

Certainly these are very similar, but even after all that has transpired, Sungenis still doesn’t seem to understand that when you claim someone said something and then you proceed to put quotation marks around what immediately follows, you are indicating that these are their actual words and you can’t simply substitute your own interpretation or paraphrase. This is a persistent problem that has been documented at length (and with calumnious impact) in regard to Sungenis’ treatment Pope John Paul II, Roy Schoeman and others.

Furthermore, and perhaps most ironically, one of the additional quotes Sungenis claims to have added to his newest edition of Galileo Was Wrong is inaccurate:

“In many cultures it is customary to answer that God created the universe out of nothing. But this is mere temporizing. If we wish courageously to pursue the question, we must, of course ask next where God comes from? And if we decide this to be unanswerable, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always existed?” (Carl Sagan, Cosmos, p. 257). (,JMAASC, p.3)

Cosmos is an extremely accessible book. It’s even available on-line. Here is a link to a pdf file of page 257: LINK

Notice the actual quote:

“In many cultures it is customary to answer that God created the universe out of nothing. But this is mere temporizing. If we wish courageously to pursue the question, we must, of course ask next where God comes from? And if we decide this to be unanswerable, why not save a step and decide that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question? Or, if we say that God has always existed, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always existed?”

The reader will note that Sungenis erroneously combined the beginning of the fifth sentence with the end of the sixth sentence, omitting 26 words in the process. This is almost one half the length of the entire quote as originally provided by him. It is worth noting that a few websites present exactly the same inaccurate quote as Sungenis in this instance, such as this one. It seems likely that Sungenis once again relied on secondary sources while giving the impression of investigating primary ones.

Again, in this instance at least, the question is not whether Sagan said ignorant things about faith and God. The problem is that Sungenis failed to adhere not only to scholarly standards, but standards that would be expected in a high school classroom. Sungenis continues to pretend that all is simply a matter of a small incident here, a little goof there, but the record proves that Sungenis’ problem is far more serious than that. To date, he has barely attempted to interact with the evidence of his shoddy research methodology in Galileo Was Wrong: here. The fact is, Jacob Michael stopped checking Sungenis’ references after only reading about one quarter of the way through the book and still amassed many examples of shoddy scholarship, particularly for a purported “doctoral dissertation.” One need not plough through the remaining pages to realize that a leopard does not change his spots.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

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

The purpose of this short entry is quite simple. Several people in the past few months have made comments about Robert Sungenis in light of his Jewish Controversies, expressing sentiments along these lines: "Sungenis may have some problems in the Jewish area, but his biblical work is still quite good and very sound."

It has been the contention of RSATJ for quite some time, however, that this is simply not true. Sungenis has demonstrated the same pattern of sloppy scholarship in his non-Jewish writings as he has in his Jewish writings. The pattern is consistent: as long as Sungenis feels he is right on some issue, he absolves himself of adhering to scholarly standards. This was documented several times in Sungenis and the Jews: Just what the Doctor Ordered?, where Sungenis was shown to have taken several short-cuts in his references in Galileo Was Wrong, and in at least one case, to have used a "rumored" quote attributed to Carl Sagan (fn. 242 on p. 107 says, "The quote is attributed to Sagan, but is invariably included among other quotes from Carl Sagan.").

Apparently, the pattern is not going to be broken in Sungenis's newly-released Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, Volume 2: The Apocalypse of St. John.

In the study bible, Sungenis says on pages 14-15 that "The traditional view is that the Apocalypse was written between the years 95 AD and 97 AD, during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian." It should be noted that just a few years ago, in CASB 1, Sungenis had said of this position, "It is admitted by proponents of this view, however, that Irenaeus' language is ambiguous and that he is the lone witness for the assertion, thus leaving doubt as to its significance." (CASB 1, p. 351)

St. Irenaeus's ambiguous language and doubtful significance take a back seat in CASB 2, where the saint's testimony to the dating of the Apocalypse is now propped up as solid evidence: "One of the major patristic witnesses to this late dating is Irenaeus who, in his monumental work, 'Against Heresies', states that the Apocalypse was written 'toward the end of Domitian's reign'."

The question of whether St. Irenaeus was even talking about the writing of the Apocalypse in this passage is disputed, and the counter-evidence has been laid out in more detail here: Dating the Apocalypse of St. John: Was it Written Before or After Jerusalem Fell?

The point here, however, is that Sungenis went from saying that advocates of the late-date theory had one "lone witness", whose ambiguous testimony leaves "doubt as to its significance", to insisting that the late-date theory is the "traditional view", propped up by the "major patristic witness" of St. Irenaeus.

Sungenis's change of position was highlighted in a post at the Catholic Answers forum, and Sungenis issued a public response. He writes:

Now, the Matthew CASB 1 was written in 2003. Since that time, I have found more witnesses to the 95 AD writing of the Apocalypse than Irenaeus. (Sungenis, Jacob Michael: Incompetence and Immaturity, p. 5)

Indeed, Sungenis made it appear as though he had found "more witnesses" to the late-date view. He mentions them in the CASB 2, in fact. He mentions them again in his most recent defense of the issue:

Incidentally, the additional witnesses to a 95 AD date that Mr. Michael failed to mention are: Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine. Footnotes to the sources are provided in the text of the CASB 2. Not too shabby, are they? (Sungenis, Jacob Michael: Incompetence and Immaturity, p. 5)

Here is where we arrive at the reason for this entry: Sungenis says that "Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine" all testify to the late-date theory, and more importantly, that "Footnotes to the sources are provided in the text of the CASB 2."

But this assertion was recently brought to the attention of Mark Wyatt, who has been one of the biggest public promoters of CASB 2, and a specific challenge was put to Mr. Wyatt, again at the Catholic Answers forum:

An "excellent" work such as this surely ought to have the patristic sources supplied in the footnotes, and Sungenis claims here that they are provided "in the text of the CASB 2."

So here's the million-dollar question, Mark: what are those patristic sources, referenced in the footnote(s) on pp. 14-15, which show that Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc., held to an AD 95-97 date of composition for the Apocalypse? You have the book, so it shouldn't take you long to find them ... (Jacob Michael, CA forum post, 7/6/2007)

Mr. Wyatt, who has shown himself capable of responding to dozens of posts at Catholic Answers within very short time frames, was curiously silent about this challenge. Several days have now passed with no answer.

Perhaps the reason for the silence is simply this: there are no patristic sources given in the text of the CASB 2 for this issue, contrary to Sungenis's explicit claim otherwise.

Rather, the source Sungenis gives in his footnotes is not to any patristic witness, but to Fr. Haydock's extensive commentary in the Haydock Bible. Upon further examination of the "Haydock source", however, it turns out that not even Fr. Haydock gives patristic sources on the issue of the dating of the Apocalypse. In fact, Fr. Haydock doesn't claim any patristic witnesses for the date of the Apocalypse at all.

A quick review of what Fr. Haydock actually says on the page number referenced by Sungenis in the CASB 2 reveals immediately what happened: Sungenis wasn't reading carefully, and thus misrepresented Fr. Haydock's claims. Fr. Haydock writes:

Though some in the first ages doubted whether this book [the Apocalypse] was canonical, and who was the author of it, (see Euseb. 1. 7. Histor. c. xxv.) yet it is certain much the greater part of the ancient fathers acknowledged both that it was a part of the canon, and that it was written by S. John, the apostle and evangelist. See Tillemont in his ninth note upon S. John, where he cites S. Justin, S. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertull. S. Cyp. S. Athan. Eusebius, S. Amb. S. Jerom [sic], S. Aug. &c. (Rev. Fr. Geo. Leo Haydock, The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with a Comprehensive Catholic Commentary [Monrovia, CA: Catholic Treasures, 1991], p. 1627; italics in original)

Note well: Fr. Haydock is talking, not about the dating of the Apocalypse, but its acceptance within the canon of Scripture, and its Johannine authorship. These are the two issues for which he claims the patristic witnesses of St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, and the other Fathers whom Sungenis has pressed into service as witnesses of the late-date theory (notice that Sungenis's roll-call is even in the same order as Fr. Haydock's, except for the exclusion of Eusebius, and the insertion of St. Irenaeus).

Here is where the confusion enters. Fr. Haydock goes on, after claiming these Fathers as witnesses to the canonicity of the Apocalypse and to its Johannine authorship, to give his own opinion as to the date of the Apocalypse:

It was written in Greek to the churches in Asia, under Domitian, about the year 96 or 97, long after the destruction of Jerusalem, when S. John was banished to the island of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea. (ibid., p. 1627)

It is clear what happened here. Sungenis took Fr. Haydock's own personal opinion on the date of the Apocalypse and confused it with the patristic evidence concerning the book's canonical status and Johannine authorship. He then claimed in the CASB 2, erroneously, that all of these Fathers testify to a late date for the Apocalypse. He then further trotted out these same names in his most recent response, but now with the additionally dishonest remark that "Footnotes to the sources are provided in the text of the CASB 2. Not too shabby, are they?"

Yes, those patristic witnesses are indeed "not too shabby", and they would be even more impressive if they were actually lending their testimony to the subject at hand: the date of the Apocalypse. What really would have been "not too shabby" is if Sungenis had actually included the patristic sources in the CASB 2 footnotes, as he explicitly claimed to have done. He did not, and now we can understand why: he was using Fr. Haydock as his primary source, and Fr. Haydock himself does not give primary source references, but rather points back to "Tillemont in his ninth note upon S. John."

In other words, Fr. Haydock is citing a secondary source, and Sungenis is therefore citing a tertiary source, but publicly claiming to have actually put the primary patristic sources in the CASB 2. On top of all of that, he is claiming these Fathers as witnesses on an issue for which not even Fr. Haydock claimed them.

Little wonder why Mr. Wyatt went silent. The "excellent work" in the CASB 2 that he has been tirelessly promoting on Sungenis's behalf turns out to be downright misleading and inaccurate.

Let me just anticipate the objection up front: Sungenis and his associates will undoubtedly complain that I'm "nitpicking" and trying to discredit an entire book based on "one example." But keep the sequence of events in mind: it was Sungenis who brought up this question of the patristic witnesses, and he was the one who used it as alleged evidence that his critics need to do their homework before challenging him. As usual, following up on Sungenis's dogmatic assertions has only unearthed new problems. Sungenis put this evidence forward for examination; it has been duly examined, and found wanting.

As far as the ramifications of this discovery go, it is not a question of discrediting an entire book based on one glaring mistake. It is a question of establishing a pattern in Sungenis's work; one example by itself would not be significant, but the cumulative effect of multiple examples in several places across many years is a different story - a garbled Truesdale quote here, a bogus Schoeman quote there, a ruined Haydock citation masquerading as patristic evidence here, a falsified Einstein quote there, an unverified Sagan quote here, a bogus saying of John Paul II there. The question can legitimately be asked: how can anything Sungenis cites be trusted at face value, without double-checking it yourself? And at that point, if you're already having to validate his sources, then of what value is his work? You might as well do the research yourself, since he can't be trusted to accurately report what his sources say.

Unfortunately, the end result of testing this latest Sungenis claim is decidedly negative: rather than being an example of how Sungenis is "solid" on biblical issues unrelated to the Jews, the CASB 2 turns out to be another example of how Sungenis has a bad habit of bypassing scholarly standards - even in his biblical work - when he thinks he is right on any given issue.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Sungenis Smears Bishop, Continues to Mislead and Distort the Record

Recently, in an attempt to explain extremely misleading information he and his associates have given about the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible (CASB1 and CASB2), Robert Sungenis made a plethora of additional false or misleading statements and chose to smear his own bishop in the process. Some of these statements will be addressed below.

The careful reader should note a pattern throughout this unfortunate saga. Sungenis continues to make extremely misleading and occasionally outright false statements with the absolute confidence and assertiveness of the well-seasoned professional debater that he is. At this point, it should be plain that important assertions made by Robert Sungenis should not be accepted without first carefully examining the evidence and hearing all sides.

1) The Smearing of Sungenis’ Bishop

In reaction to the fact that Sungenis’ bishop refused to grant an imprimatur for CASB2, Sungenis chose to smear him:

"With all due respect to Bishop Rhoades, I believe I know what his theological viewpoint is, since he is a protégé of William Cardinal Keeler and very close to him personally and theologically, Keeler having come from the Harrisburg diocese and the ordinary who ordained Rhoades. If you remember, Cardinal Keeler was a co-author with several Jewish rabbis of the Reflections on Covenant and Missions document in 2003. I think you get the picture. I won't say anymore out of respect for Bishop Rhoades."
(Jacob Michael, the Imprimatur and the Smear Campaign, p. 11)

Yes, unfortunately, one does readily “get the picture.” Sungenis opted to smear his own bishop with innuendo and guilt by association and then had the nerve to claim he was showing “respect” for him by so doing. The reader will notice that Sungenis provided no substantive documentation for his implied charges. He simply associated Bishop Rhoades with Jews, Cardinal Keeler and the RCM document and that was enough for him to conclude that the Bishop must subscribe to the dual covenant position, or perhaps must be one of those bishops he previously described thusly:

"As long as [my critics]…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."
(Article, page 23)

This attack on Bishop Rhoades is particularly outrageous and hypocritical as Sungenis and his associates have bitterly complained that Sungenis is a victim of guilt by association in regard to Jewish issues. They have argued that he is being called an anti-Semite simply because some of his sources are anti-Semitic. However, in Sungenis’ case, it is most certainly not a matter of guilt by association. It is not guilt by association when one actively and purposely promotes, uses and otherwise directly associates oneself with the “Jewish research” of anti-Semites.

In stark contrast, Sungenis provided no documentation at all that bishop Rhoades holds to or promotes the “two separate, salvific covenants” concept suggested by the RCM document. His mistreatment of Bishop Rhoades is therefore a classic example of guilt by association.

This is made all the more ugly by the fact that Bishop Rhoades has a good, conservative reputation and is highly regarded by orthodox Catholics. He is certainly not considered liberal and has also exhibited a favorable disposition toward the Traditional Latin Mass.

Apparently, relatively soon after Sungenis’ attempted defense was posted in multiple venues, he received complaints on the outrageousness of this smear against the bishop and removed it. However, characteristically, no public retraction or apology has been made by him at CAI.

As a side note, one also wonders why Sungenis felt the need to only present selected parts of the letter from his diocese regarding CASB2 rather than reproducing the entire text, as he did in the case of the letter from the USCCB on the rejection of CASB1. A natural question arises as to what exactly is in the rest of the letter that led Sungenis to exclude it.

2) Sungenis Promises of an Imprimatur for the CASB

“Now, some people might ask why we didn’t reveal that we had been denied an imprimatur from the Harrisburg diocese. The reasons are many. First, to be quite blunt, it is really nobody’s business but ours. For example, if one is declined an imprimatur, he is not required to put a notice on the inside cover of the book that it has been denied. Books are denied imprimaturs all the time. Have you ever seen someone advertise that they have been denied?”
(JMISC, p. 9)

One has to agree with Sungenis on his last point. One would be hard-pressed to find an individual who advertised that they had been denied an imprimatur. However, one would be equally hard-pressed to find an individual who advertised that he would have an imprimatur on books that had yet to be reviewed by his bishop or even written, for that matter. By so doing, Sungenis presumptuously attempted to prematurely appropriate official Catholic clout in an effort to prime the well for the sale of his books. And therefore it was he, not anyone else, who initially made a public issue of this matter. One cannot reasonably trumpet the expectation of an imprimatur in public in order to facilitate sales and then cry foul when a denial of the same is also brought out in public.

Further on in his reply, Sungenis seems to at least somewhat sense the problem and attempts an answer:

“R. Sungenis: There is nothing wrong or dishonest about this statement [promising an imprimatur], since my books Not By Faith Alone and Not By Scripture Alone do contain imprimaturs. But at the time the above statement was written, we had not even completed the first volume of the Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, and the advertisement that is on our website is from that time period. Notice that Mr. Michael does not show a date for the above statement, since he knows it comes from 2003, but that date wouldn’t add any fuel to his accusation, since it shows we were anticipating getting an imprimatur long before the book was published.” (JMISC, p.4)


“Mr. Michael is trying to give the impression that just because the page exists on our website as of June 27, 2007, then it must apply currently. He knows it doesn’t because he knows that it is an ad from 2003 that was never taken off our website. There are many things on our website that we fail to take off for one reason or another. It’s been that way since we started CAI in 1993.” (JMISC, p. 8)

Aside from the fact that Sungenis doesn't seem to realize that this is a rather odd and embarrassing admission, unfortunately, his statements don’t resolve the actual issues involved. Again, at least as of July 6, 2007, the teaser ad/link for this same advertisement is still prominently displayed on the home page of Sungenis’ website and Sungenis is fully aware of it. Click on the advertisement at the lower right-hand portion of the screen that excitedly exclaims, “3 Down 10 to Go!”:

“And, of course, they contain the Catholic Church's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, just as the CASB will contain.” (link)

First, again, it is extremely presumptuous to publicly promise an imprimatur for books that have as yet to be reviewed by one’s bishop, as Sungenis has recently discovered. Second, Sungenis seems to be arguing that because he initially posted the advertisement some time ago, this somehow nullifies its current relevance and effect. This is an irrational argument.

Consider an analogy. Driving down the road you see a sign exclaiming “Unleaded Gas, $2.00/gal!” So you pull in and fill up with 20 gallons. When you look at your receipt, the charge is for $60 ($3/gal). Confused, you call over the station owner himself and he tells you that the price is $3 a gallon. You point out that big sign in front of the station promising $2/gallon. And he replies, “Listen, I put that sign up there two years ago. You can’t possibly hold me to that now!” Would you be satisfied with that answer?

The fact is, Sungenis publicly made a presumptuous promise that he had no right to make. And that ill-considered promise is renewed every day it remains on his website. That’s simply common sense.

The final problem for Sungenis’ argument in this case is the fact that it is almost certain he was made aware that this advertisement was still up at CAI for at least the past month and a half. And he has yet to revise it. For anyone who has followed the work of ubiquitous Sungenis defender and promoter Mark Wyatt and CAI “Media Technician” Laurence Gonzaga, there can be no serious doubt that Sungenis was informed about this matter:

On May 24th, 2007, Sungenis associate, Mark Wyatt, wrote:

“Unfortunately the description you are reading about the updated DR is in the ad titled ‘1 down [i.e., Matthew], 12 more to go!! ‘. In fact this was true when he started and finished the Matthew study bible, but is not true now after finishing the Apocalypse and Romans / James (in publication). He needs to update his site.” (link)

And then we have these assurances from CAI “Media Technician” Laurence Gonzaga on May 25th, 2007:

“I think CAI should revise their page on the CASB to avoid any confusion... I will talk to Bob about it later...” (link)

“Okay... I can understand your concern especially with the information on the CASB page... It needs to be REVISED reflecting this issue and future plans...” (link)

Although both Mr. Gonzaga and Mr. Wyatt apparently asked Sungenis to revise this ad, the erroneous material still remains even now, a month and a half later. (link)

The careful observer will notice that Sungenis did recently manage to find the time to update the teaser/link for the advertisement on his home page to reflect the fact that 2 more volumes of the CASB had been completed, however. The initial teaser/link said, “1 down, 12 to go!” Now it says, “3 down, 10 to go”. It seems Sungenis has his own personal priorities.

Additionally, one may also notice some selective presentation of facts at work. Sungenis writes:

R. Sungenis: There is nothing wrong or dishonest about this statement, since my books Not By Faith Alone and Not By Scripture Alone do contain imprimaturs. (JMISC, p. 4)

However, below you will find the full quote to which he referred from his advertisement:

“If you are familiar with my books (Not By Faith Alone; Not By Scripture Alone; Not By Bread Alone, et al) you know what kind of material to expect in the CASB. And, of course, they contain the Catholic Church's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, just as the CASB will contain” (emphasis added, link)

Sungenis failed to mention that his ad also includes Not By Bread Alone in this list of books that have a nihil obstat and imprimatur. Not By Bread Alone does not have an imprimatur or a nihil obstat, as noted in the previous blog post here at RSATJ. So there certainly is something "wrong or dishonest about this statement."

As a final note, Sungenis' views on truthfulness were further illuminated as a result of this latest episode:

Thus, when I said that we were applying and waiting for an imprimatur for the CASB2, I was referring to the SECOND attempt to do so at the diocese of my publisher. Hence, nothing I said was false.” (emphasis in original, JMISC, p. 1)

The fact is that Sungenis and his associates were questioned directly as to whether he had been denied an imprimatur, whether he had heard anything back from his bishop and when he applied for the imprimatur. The answers that he and his associates chose to give were purposely crafted to give the false impression that Bishop Rhoades, to whom the manuscript was first submitted for an imprimatur, was still in the process of reviewing the work and that there was no reason to doubt that it would arrive in good order. The deceptive effect of their answers is illustrated here: link 1, link 2 and link 3

3) The Purported Appeal of the Denied Imprimatur

First, contrary to Sungenis’ implications, it should be pointed out that it has not been claimed that Sungenis must have an imprimatur for the commentary portion of his study bibles simply in order to publish them. However, as acknowledged even by his associate Mark Wyatt, he cannot sell them “in churches or oratories” where he may speak or debate “unless they have been published with the permission of competent ecclesiastical authority” (Can. 827 §4)

Sungenis also makes the following assertion:

“In fact, a little while after I received Bishop Rhoades letter, I wrote to Queenship Publishing and told them I would like to apply for an imprimatur for the CASB2 in Queenship’s diocese. They obliged and the matter is in process.” (JMISC, p. 1)

This statement by Sungenis raises several issues and questions. Sungenis indicated that he appealed “a little while after” he was denied, which occurred at the beginning of December, 2006. In light of Sungenis’ demonstrated willingness to give seriously misleading impressions, it would certainly be helpful to know precisely when he filed his purported appeal. It has been over 7 months since he was denied the imprimatur. And the diocese of Harrisburg has already indicated that they have no record of any appeal in process, which would be expected in such circumstances. Was the purported appeal by any chance filed after questions were being increasingly raised about the missing imprimatur? Did Sungenis inform this other purported bishop that he was denied the imprimatur, as he was directed that he must by the diocese of Harrisburg? These are reasonable and pertinent questions that deserve an answer.

4) The Letter from the USCCB Regarding Sungenis’ New Translation

“Mr. Michael, in another attempt to discredit me a couple of weeks ago, was traveling around the Internet making derogatory comments that the letter from the USCCB that I said I had received stating that the USCCB could not grant an imprimatur for the Matthew translation because it was actually a ‘translation of a translation,’ didn’t exist. Mr. Michael suggested I was fabricating the letter in order to diffuse the issue.” (JMISC, pp. 11-12)

This distortion is significant enough to call it a falsehood. The issue was not whether Sungenis had ever received any letter from the USCCB that denied an imprimatur due to his “translation of a translation” difficulty (although, even here, it turns out that Sungenis and his associates had omitted an additional reason for the rejection, see below). Rather, Jacob Michael focused on the impression being given by Sungenis associates Mark Wyatt and Laurence Gonzaga that Sungenis had a letter from the USCCB explicitly giving him carte blanche permission to go ahead and publish his translation without an imprimatur:

“If he has a letter from the USCCB giving him a free pass, where is it? Why wasn't mention of it made in his CASB 1? Why doesn't he just put it out there, now that he knows (due to your recent contact with him) that the lack of imprimatur has become an issue?....Did Bob get a free pass from the USCCB or didn't he? You've made the claim publicly, so where's the proof?”

In fact, Jacob Michael was correct. Sungenis never received a letter that granted him permission to go ahead and publish his unapproved translation. If one carefully reviews the letter from the USCCB, as reproduced by Sungenis himself, one will notice that there is nothing expressly mentioning any such permission, or a “free pass” as Jacob Michael phrased it. As he has so often in previous situations, Sungenis seems to have jumped to conclusions that were not expressly stated in the letter itself, conclusions that were most beneficial to him.

As a final note, it is also clear that the USCCB did not definitively reject Sungenis’ translation in CASB1, leaving him without an avenue for appeal. In fact, they invited him to consider pursuing this avenue. Yet, oddly in this case, he seems to have considered his work definitively “denied”, unlike the case of CASB2. Additionally, the USCCB did not reject the translation in CASB1 solely for a “technical” difficulty as Sungenis and his associates have led everyone to believe since November of 2006. The USCCB also rejected Sungenis’ application for an imprimatur because of his stated advocacy of an approach that tended toward “dynamic equivalency.” (JMSIC, p. 13) This reason for the rejection was previously concealed by Sungenis, as illustrated below:

“R. Sungenis: When I applied for the Imprimatur for the Matthew volume, the USCCB determined that my modifications to the DR were a ‘translation of a translation’ and not a true translation, and therefore, I could not get the specific Imprimatur for a ‘translation.’” (Q and A 73, November 2006)

In light of these newly discovered facts, perhaps it becomes much clearer why Sungenis has long been so reticent to make this letter from the USCCB public.

5) Copyrights for the RSV-CE

Sungenis writes:

“They tried to claim I was being unethical regarding the CASB 2, The Apocalypse of St. John. They claimed that I did not get approval from the copyright holder of the bible portion of the book. Result? The responsibility of the copyrights and other such issues are Queenship’s. As they have in the past, they secure rights and pay the fees whenever it is required, as they have done for me the last 11 years.” (JMISC, p. 2)

This is false. No one “claimed” that he had been unethical or had not gotten approval. Sungenis was asked, privately, with his closest associates as witnesses, whether he had been given permission. And he was given an opportunity to provide proof to dispel any doubt, privately, precisely in the manner which he has repeatedly complained has been refused to him in the past (e.g., "Mr. Michael could have easily come to me and asked about the situation, but since he has been incommunicado with me for almost a year, that kind of polite Christian gesture wasn’t on his agenda. Instead, he prefers to gossip on the Internet with juicy insinuations in order to further his campaign against me.", pp. 1-2). Despite his protestations that his critics can always "easily come to me and ask" questions of this nature, Sungenis refused to answer any questions in private, and insisted it was no one's "flipping business." (email of 6/28/2007)

In light of Sungenis’ well-established history of plagiarism (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4 and link 5), it was not unreasonable to ask Sungenis if he had obtained permission to use the RSV-CE.

Sungenis avoided answering the question. The reader will note that he never indicated whether permission was granted or not and chose instead to deflect any possible blame to his publisher. Regardless of who should have obtained the permission, if it was not obtained, then this is yet another mark against Sungenis’ CASB.

The holder of the copyright (the NCCC) has indicated that they have no record of granting permission to either Sungenis or Queenship. And they have very specific verbiage that must appear on an author’s book when permission is granted (see here) - in particular, the notice "Used by permission" must appear on the copyright page, a notice which does not appear on the copyright page of CASB 2. Perhaps Sungenis does have permission, in which case it would be a simple task to provide the proof and end the doubt. For some reason, however, Sungenis has resisted providing proof and - let the reader make note - has decided to make a public issue of this, rather than taking the opportunity offered him to deal with it in private. Similar gross distortions of personal correspondence with Sungenis were also made in his latest defense.

6) The Unexplained Contradiction:

In Sungenis, the CASB (The Apocalypse of St. John) and the Imprimatur, the following issue was brought to light:

“The reader will note that Sungenis himself indicated back in September 2006 that the CASB 2 was ‘at the Bishop's office’ being considered for an imprimatur – long before it was published. However, in May 2007, Sungenis indicated that he had ‘already decided to submit the manuscript for an Imprimatur after the book was published.’ Clearly, barring a tortured interpretation of these statements, they do not reconcile with one another.” (link)

Sungenis’ answer (JMISC, p. 5) was essentially an admixture of bluster and insult with no substance. He never got around to actually explaining how to reconcile these two conflicting statements about CASB2.

To recap, first, he acknowledged that he had sent CASB2 to his bishop in September 2006, before it was published. Then after he came under scrutiny he claimed that he had “already decided to submit the manuscript for an Imprimatur after the book was published.” Note, Sungenis’ new claim to have submitted another request for an imprimatur to a different bishop does not provide an obvious means to readily reconcile these two statements. The original discrepancy remains: How could Sungenis “already” have decided to submit the manuscript “after” it was published, when in his own words, he actually submitted the manuscript long before it was published? Perhaps Sungenis can finally elaborate on a sound, logical way to fully reconcile these two conflicting statements.

In closing, even aside from the fact that Sungenis’most recent defense/complaint is far more full of deflection, rationalization, distortion and falsehood than substance, his demands for apologies ring quite hollow in light of the repeated gross injustices he has inflicted on so many without a word of apology, from non-Catholic Jews, to Jewish converts, to his own friends and volunteers, and now even to his own bishop. Sadly, it appears that Sungenis’ many years of debating have led this bright man to the point where he reflexively seeks to win an argument at all cost rather than seeking and promoting the truth. It’s apparently all about Bob, even for certain ubiquitous Sungenis promoters. One standard for me, another for thee. Whether or not he has actually convinced himself and his associates of his own gross distortions, rationalizations and falsehoods is an open question.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sungenis, the CASB (The Apocalypse of St. John) and the Imprimatur

A few days ago, an individual wrote to RSATJ claiming to have contacted the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA in order to determine whether or not Sungenis’s CASB2 (The Apocalypse of St. John) was expected to receive an imprimatur, before using it as a catechetical text. The individual claimed to have been informed by the diocese that Sungenis had already been denied the imprimatur. To establish the veracity of this claim, an inquiry was just made to the chancery office of the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA. The chancery has now confirmed that Sungenis had been denied the imprimatur on the CASB2, late in 2006.

Following are the relevant statements made by Sungenis over time in regard to this issue:

“And, of course, [Sungenis’s books] contain the Catholic Church's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, just as the CASB will contain.” (emphasis added) (CAI Link)

August 2006: Sungenis announced that his "CASB Vol 2, The Apocalypse of St. John, is now with Queenship and is being printed. It should be out in their next catalogue, and the book should be available in a month or so." (Q&A 18, August 2006)

September 2006: Sungenis informed an inquirer that CASB 2 is "presently at the Bishop's office in Harrisburg PA in the process of obtaining an imprimatur." (Q&A 38, September 2006)

November 2006: Sungenis indicated that "the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition" was used for "the text for CASB, vol 2, The Apocalypse of St. John," and announced that this volume "should be out before the end of the year." (Q&A 56, November, 2006)

February 2007: CASB 2 was still not yet published, and Sungenis explained that "there has been a delay in Queenship's publishing of The Apocalypse of St. John. They had trouble with the formatting and had to start from scratch." (Q&A 4, February, 2007)

March 2007: Sungenis indicates to a reader that CASB 2 "will be available this Spring." (Q&A 19, March, 2007)

May 2007: When challenged on the fact that his newly-published CASB 2 lacked an imprimatur from his Bishop, Sungenis claimed, "I had already decided to submit the manuscript for an Imprimatur after the book was published, which is in the works…Mr. Michael would know none of this because he doesn’t communicate with me. The only thing he does is gossip about me on Internet forums with fallacious imaginings of his own hateful and jealous mind.” (emphasis added)
("Jacob Michael: Incompetence and Immaturity", pp. 9-10)

The reader will note that Sungenis himself indicated back in September 2006 that the CASB 2 was "at the Bishop's office" being considered for an imprimatur – long before it was published. However, in May 2007, Sungenis indicated that he had "already decided to submit the manuscript for an Imprimatur after the book was published." Clearly, barring a tortured interpretation of these statements, they do not reconcile with one another.

Additionally, questions were raised about this issue at the Catholic Answers Forums:

“it doesn't make sense to me to be going for an imprimatur now after you publish and not before you publish a book and I still stick to it. I haven't heard any answer on that. Do you ask him about that one, too?” CAF

“Did Bob apply for an imprimatur for CASB 2 or didn't he? More importantly, when did he apply for it, if he applied at all? Was he rejected? Did the bishop's office just ignore the request? Was it approved pending further investigation?” CAF

Based on what they were told by Sungenis, Sungenis associates Mark Wyatt and Laurence Gonzaga posted the following answers to these concerns at the Envoy and Catholic Answers Forums:

Mark Wyatt:

“My understanding is that he is in the process of getting one. In the mean time he has a schedule, so he released the volume." CAF

“My understanding is that Robert did apply for both Vol. I and vol. II. He is still in the process of obtaining imprimatur for Vol. II…" CAF

“ understanding is that he is trying to get the imprimatur.” (Envoy Forum)

CAI "media technician" Laurence Gonzaga:

“Well, it does have one [an Imprimatur], for the translation... The commentary itself is being sought..." CAF

“no it doesn’t seem wierd (sic) to seek it [an Imprimatur on CASB2] after it is published because the book can be published again." CAF

Clearly, Sungenis has always understood the value and importance of having an imprimatur on his books and has sought it for all of them. Indeed, whether a work has received the Church’s official acknowledgment of freedom from errors of faith and morals or has been denied the same is a legitimate issue of Catholic concern and inquiry. And from the beginning of the CASB project, Sungenis has certainly used the (anticipated) presence of a Catholic imprimatur as a marketing tool:

If you are familiar with my books (Not By Faith Alone; Not By Scripture Alone; Not By Bread Alone, et al) you know what kind of material to expect in the CASB. And, of course, they contain the Catholic Church's Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, just as the CASB will contain (emphasis added) (CAI Donations Page; page contents as of 27 June 2007)

As a side note, Not By Bread Alone (NBBA) does not have an imprimatur. Sungenis explained in considerable detail the purported reasons for the missing imprimatur in the pages of NBBA itself. In contrast, no such explanation was given for the missing imprimatur in the pages of either CASB1 or CASB2.

Aside from aiding internet and book-store sales, there are other reasons why this approbation would be important to have. The Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law states:

Can. 827 §4. Books or other writings dealing with questions of religion or morals cannot be exhibited, sold, or distributed in churches or oratories unless they have been published with the permission of competent ecclesiastical authority or approved by it subsequently.

This means that, for example, CAI would not be able to sell volumes which lack the approval of his bishop in a parish church in which talks on apologetics or other topics were given.

For all the assurances that each of the CASB volumes will bear ecclesiastical approbation, the promised imprimaturs for the CASB have failed to materialize. The first volume of the CASB, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (CASB1), was published without an imprimatur (the reasons for this lie beyond the scope of this entry.)

In regard to CASB2, the phrases used by Sungenis and his associates like "in the process of getting one", "is still in the process of obtaining", "being sought", "in the works", clearly assure the reader in May of 2007 that the reception of the Imprimatur was simply a matter of time, practically a foregone conclusion. Again, it has been confirmed that Sungenis was informed in late 2006—at least five months before CASB2 came out and almost six months before these misleading statements were made by Sungenis (both directly and by proxy)—that the imprimatur for The Apocalypse of St. John had been denied. Although an appeal of such a ruling either to the CDF or to the bishop of the diocese in which the volume is to be published is technically possible, the party making the appeal is to communicate to the CDF or the other bishop that the work has already been denied the imprimatur. To date, the diocese of Harrisburg has no record of any pending appeal. In any event, this would not explain the answers Sungenis and his associates have given to direct inquiries on this matter.

In contrast to the granting or denial of an imprimatur, the reasons for any rejection are not properly a matter of public conjecture and discourse. That is a matter most properly handled between an author and his bishop. Largely for this reason, the comment box has been turned off. Whether here or elsewhere, everyone is encouraged to avoid unnecessary and unhelpful speculation in that regard.


NOTE: Important follow-up articles that shed a great deal of additional light on this situation may be found here, here, here, here and here.

Sungenis's Contradictions and Flip-flops on the Jews as Accursed

In regard to how the Fathers view the Jewish people, Robert Sungenis has made the following contradictory statements:

April 2004

" I would not say there was a consensus among the Fathers that the Jews were an accursed people. In fact, you hardly find the words "Jews" and "cursed" in the same sentence in the Fathers. There was certainly a consensus that the Jews, as a whole people, were judged by God for their sins, but there are very few Fathers who held that the Jews were cursed as a race. Of those Justin Martyr, Chrysostom and Augustine seem the most prominent, but even then, their words can be taken in more than one way." (emphasis added)
Question 30, April 2004

September 2006

"As I said earlier, the Fathers were in consensus (that is, there were no dissenting voices among them) that the Jewish people were...a cursed people" (emphasis added)

Michael Forrest and the Jews, page 43

Then Sungenis has also made the following statement, although it does not directly address the teaching of the Fathers:

December 2006:

“the fact that the Jew can be saved today is the proof that God has not rejected or cursed them” (emphasis added)

Q&A #57, December 2006

Clearly, the statements made by Sungenis in April 2004 and September 2006 about the views of the Fathers in regard to Jews are contradictory. And Sungenis’s statement in December 2006 seems reconcilable with his statement of September 2006 only if we take him to mean that he and the Church (in Nostra Aetate) both reject what Sungenis himself characterized as the unanimous consensus of the Fathers…a rather precarious position to take.

Monday, June 25, 2007

CAI (Kind of) Apologizes for Robin Williams Gaffe

Shortly after our previous post was published, exposing Bob Sungenis's error in claiming that Robin Williams is Jewish, CAI changed the headline of the news item to remove any reference to Williams's alleged Jewishness.

In addition, Sungenis posted this apology:

CAI apologizes for the original headline stating that Robin Williams is a "Jewish comedian." According to Williams, he is not Jewish, rather he is noted for speaking favorably about Judaism and grew up with Jews who referred to him as an "honorary Jew" (source)

It's nice to see Bob get closer to writing a real apology, but we all could have done without the rationalizations regarding Williams' purportedly good relations with Jews. It seems that if you are on good terms with Jews, you are automatically as suspicious and untrustworthy to Sungenis as those "out to rule the world" Jews. And the question still remains: why did he make the accusation in the first place? Why didn't he verify his information first? And what is the relevance of Williams' ethnicity, anyway? More interesting still, from where did he get this bogus information?

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Sungenis has expressed some resentment over the fact that he was called on the carpet at Sungenis and the Jews Blog:

... people like you [Jacob Michael] who, because we, like most people, assumed Robin Williams was either Jewish or wished he was, since he speaks very favorably of Judaism at the same time that he denigrates the Catholic Church, and also says that he considers himself an "honorary Jew" because of his friendship with fellow Jews, you then take it upon yourself to say that we are "creating Jews out of thin air" ... (Sungenis, email of 6/25/2007)

Whatever Bob's opinion may be, it is quite certain that "most people" do not "assume" that Robin Williams is Jewish. As noted earlier, even an anti-Semitic site like Jew Watch knew better.

The next time Bob has questions about which celebrities are Jewish and which ones are not, perhaps he could at least start by listening to Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sungenis Inventing Jews? Robin Williams Singled Out as "Jewish"

Very recently, Robert Sungenis of Catholic Apologetics International added the following "News Alert" to his website:

Jewish Comedian, Robin Williams Mocks Catholic Church

(Such "News Alerts" are regularly cycled in and out from the CAI web site over time)

The article originally appeared at Life Site.

And what is the actual title of the original article?

Robin Williams Mocks Catholic Priests on Tonight Show

Notice that? Lifesite entitles the article: Robin Williams Mocks Catholic Priests on Tonight Show but Robert Sungenis feels the need to rename it Jewish Comedian, Robin Williams Mocks Catholic Church .

If you read the original article about William's hypocritical and bigoted remarks, you will find no mention at all of the ethnic or religious background of Robin Williams.

At first, the natural inclination may be to accept Sungenis's claim that Williams is indeed a Jew. But the question would remain: why is his Jewishness being singled out? Is Sungenis suggesting that his Jewish ethnicity was what drove Williams to mock Catholic priests? If so, then what are we to make of all the other people of various religions (including Catholics!) who have mocked the priesthood as a result of the scandals?

But the problem seems to be far worse. It seems clear that Williams isn't even Jewish! In fact, even the blatantly anti-Semitic website "Jew Watch" (a website that would certainly love to claim that Williams is Jewish) says the following about Robin Williams:

"Williams Robin - Actor...he is probably of Christian descent. According to Adherents, Williams gravitated to Jewish friends in school and attended 14 bar mitzvahs...His parents were descended from the English Welsh, and Irish (father) and French (mother). Robin Williams plays many Jewish

Of course, this anti-Semitic website has done everything possible to tie Williams to Jews as much as possible including the laughably twisted observation that he "plays many Jewish roles" in movies and has purportedly attended many bar-mitzvahs. But Robert Sungenis had to go them one better and claim that Williams is actually Jewish.

Wikipedia confirms William's gentile, Episcopalian background:

Wikipedia: Robin Williams

Of course, we can expect that Sungenis and CAI will quickly revise this News Alert to read "Gentile Comedian of Episcopalian Background, Robin Williams, Mocks Catholic Church!"

It's gotten to the point where Sungenis sees Jewish enemies everywhere. Every Catholic should reject this anti-Jewish obsession for the ugly bigotry that it is. There is no room for anti-Semitism in the Catholic Church.

One wonders exactly what it will take for Sungenis defenders like Mark Wyatt, Laurence Gonzaga and Chris Campbell to admit there is a serious problem and that they are only enabling an anti-Semite by their behavior.

Or is it that they don't care, and see Jews in the same way Sungenis sees them?

After everything that has gone on with Sungenis in the past 9 months concerning the Jewish controversy, what kind of man continues to throw himself headlong into verifiable blunders, continues to publish falsehoods without bothering to even execute the most rudimentary verifications?

As Sungenis said over a year ago to Catholic writer Matthew Anger in regard to his use of the racist source National Vanguard:

"I have a bad habit of not checking the sources...which will not be the case in the future."


Over one year later, apparently Sungenis still makes these kinds of inadvertent and innocent least when it comes to Jews for some mysterious reason. And this happens in spite of all the serious, sustained effort Sungenis has exerted to be much more careful about his claims and "research" in regard to Jews.

More Confusion on Sungenis's Catholic Apologetics Study Bible?

Robert Sungenis's newest volume of his Catholic Apologetics Study Bible, The Apocalypse of St. John (CASB2), continues to be a source of confusion and concern. Sungenis had promised a new translation of the Scriptures based on the Douay Rheims, going back to the original languages to assure the most accurate translation available today. However, after his translation was refused an imprimatur by the USCCB (due to a technical difficulty, according to Sungenis), he decided to use the RSV-CE in all future volumes.

Yet, and All Catholic Books, the only sources that come up aside from CAI to purchase CASB2 on google, have the following to say about CASB2:

Product Description
Second Volume of the series using an updated Douay Rheims translation...extensive Scripture.

"The CASB gives you an updated version of the Douay-Rheims Bible, the most accurate and authoritative Catholic translation available. The CASB replaces some archaic 16th century words with more precise words. The grammar and syntax of the original Greek and Hebrew are analyzed in conjunction with the Latin Vulgate for the most accurate translation."

All Catholic Books

Sungenis has known for months about the change in translation. So why is this misinformation still posted on the web? It's not as if there are hundreds of retailers selling his product.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

If It's Against the Jews, That's STILL Good Enough for CAI and Sungenis

Recently Robert Sungenis posted a recommendation for James Petras’s new book, The Power of Israel in the United States.

Petras is a regular contributor to “Counterpunch”, an extremist website already written about at Robert Sungenis and The Jews.

Additional information about him may be viewed here.

Again, Sungenis took the review from rather than writing his own review (although, thankfully, at least this time he credited the source rather than plagiarizing it). Once again, apparently all that was necessary to receive a recommendation from Sungenis was that the book be critical of Jews. Sungenis apparently feels no responsibility to actually read the things he criticizes or recommends. In Sungenis’s world, it seems a book can indeed by judged by its cover.

Two interesting articles on Petras:

In contrast to Sungenis's review from, here’s a very different review from the same web site that also has a strikingly familiar ring to it:

"Petras' book makes many arguments, but with each argument comes with equally as many pitfalls which serve to discredit his otherwise thought-provoking and plausible claims. One of the main problems with his arguments, as already illustrated, concerns his lack of credible sources and, in some cases, any sources at all. While the book features many endnotes, citations crucial to his arguments remain omitted in such instances as the amounts of money donated to political parties and financial aid given to Israel by the United States. Petras also has the problem of continuously referring to sources as "sources" (74) or "former and present knowledgeable news reporters" (73). Claims such as "The US state has repeatedly violated all international conventions and laws related to torture of prisoners, mass killings of civilians, destruction of infrastructure, pillaging of natural resources, and the establishment of client colonial states and imperial-centered economies" (83) are presented with no citation or information to back-up the claim. Consequentially, many of his statements are read as being little more than assumption and opinion; he continuously fails to support the lofty and serious accusations he makes throughout the book with citations and references. If one is to make claims as insinuating and potentially offensive as the ones he makes, that person must have sound and solid references and citations that can bear the burden of lofty claims.

Another dent to Petras' credibility is his writing style. The book is written in an irritatingly slanted manner with far too much subjectivity interjected. Instead of presenting an objective argument, Petras litters his pages with sensationalism and blatant anti-Zionism verging on anti-Semitism. It is very hard to take a writer seriously when he makes the claim that "Kristalnacht, the 1939 Nazi assault on Jewish homes, stores and persons in `reprisal' for a Jew killing a German Embassy officer was a garden party compared to the Jewish State's ongoing destruction of Lebanon" (110). Irregardless of how bad the situation is in Lebanon, under no circumstances should Kristalnacht be referred to as a "garden party" and trivialized to the point where the events of that night are considered nothing more than "the killing of a few Jews and property damage" (110). Referring to some Israelis as "mad dogs" (115) in the form of juvenile name-calling doesn't help one's credibility either nor do black and white statements like "You are either for America or for AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee]" (81). Other examples of immaturity in his writing include referring to Flemming Rose as "`Fleming Rose'/Mossad [Iraqi secret police]" (140). All of these instances are both annoying and discrediting. A more objective and moderate writing style and tone would have done wonders for his arguments in terms of not detracting from his credibility and keeping his book from reading like a radical conspiracy theory as opposed to an educated political commentary.

On an almost-tangential note, the book is poorly written and constructed. It is littered here and there with grammatical and typographical errors. Structural problems include the Index referring the reader to pages that don't exist as well as citations that don't appear in the endnotes (36). At one point, Petras sets out to "examine the fifteen erroneous theses of the highly respected Professor [Noam] Chomsky" (170). He then lists fourteen points. Glaring and easily correctable errors like these do not have a major effect on the content, but promote the idea that the book (and consequentially the author) is an amateur and unprofessional production which reflects poorly on Petras and his argument."

The next article is particularly interesting because it is written by a leftist organization obviously sympathetic to the point of view espoused by the leftist, Petras. Yet, among other strong criticisms, the author of the critique writes:

“What sets Petras’ work apart, first off, is his dropping or blurring of distinctions. The terms “Jewish lobby,” “Israel lobby” and “Zionist lobby” are used interchangeably. Others, at least on the Left, have worked to mark the important distinction between Jews, as Jews, regardless of their differing ideologies, and those supporters of Israel, Jew and non-Jew alike, who actively promote and support Israel’s racist and expansionist practices. Petras facilely drops that distinction. (In an apparent attempt to deflect criticism, he states that he is justified in using the term “Jewish lobby” since that is what the Israelis use when discussing political support in the United States — as if adopting the Zionist movement’s cynical appropriation of all things Jewish serves any progressive purpose.)
What makes the use of the term an issue is the fact that Petras then lapses into the well-worn dual-loyalty discourse, using such language as “Israel Firsters,” “colonizers” and “colon” to describe Israel’s multi-layered and well-situated support system in the United States. To talk about “the Jewish lobby” in one breath and to then speak of strategically-placed Israeli agents, operatives, and Zionist infiltration in another is to suggest that American Jews generally are to be viewed as disloyal, suspect, untrustworthy, not what they seem.
Elements of the far right have always done this kind of thing. Such sloppy use of language lumps makes it seem as if Jewish-American opinion is monolithic in support of Israel, which is precisely one of the falsehoods that the Left needs to demystify.”

The author goes on to write:

"At one point, in relation to a passage critical of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s failings in regard to Israel, Petras goes so far as to mention, in a note, that the man’s wife is Jewish!"


"Unfortunately, his current book will be taken up there and elsewhere as some seemingly worthwhile analysis of how and why the United States does what it does in the world. It may also be seized upon as documented “proof” of “the anti-Semitism of the Left.” It might conceivably be taken up by elements of the far right, already convinced and not needing to be told, but always receptive to more “proof” of Jewish machinations and conspiracies."

Perhaps it is little wonder that Sungenis jumped to recommend this book after all.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sungenis Source Israel Shamir: Racist by Sungenis’s Own Standards?

WARNING: A quote from Sungenis source Israel Shamir at the bottom of this entry contains graphic, vulgar language.

(Click here for information on Israel Shamir).

As you read on, keep in mind Sungenis’s DEFINITION DIFFICULTIES.

Ben Douglass forwarded the following email to RSATJ:

[Israel] Shamir believes that certain races have innate flaws in their DNA which give them a propensity to evil. This is Sungenis' definition of racism (and therefore, anti-semitism) which he takes from E. Michael Jones.

"Thus, some of the British population have an inbuilt genetic memory of a successful evolutionary strategy connected with apartheid and with application of 'Judaic' principles."


Also in this essay, Shamir goes beyond attacking Talmudic Judaism to attacking biblical Judaism/ the Old Testament as well. I think Moses Mendelssohn would have a field day with his position in this regard: Shamir thinks he can sit securely in the upper story (Christianity) while simultaneously demolishing the lower.

And on other occasions he can be just plain vulgar:

"Men do fight and die for fair women: Sir Lancelot over Queen Guinevere, Tristan over Isolde came to grief but satisfied their passion. Others died in the attempt, they were sung about or bewailed. But a guy who dies for [vulgar term for female genitalia] he is not going to get anyway - deserves derision."

(End Email)

Yet, in his most recent 60 odd page tirade against Ben Douglass, this is what Robert Sungenis said about Israel Shamir:

"The Shamir article was posted for what it said about Israel and the Jews... And I will be posting a few more articles from Mr. Shamir in the near future."

Article, see page 14

In light of Sungenis's long history on such matters, there are three things of which we can be confident:

There will be no apology.

There will be no retraction.

Sungenis's obsession with Jews will continue unabated.

And any stick will do.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Canon law clearly states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sungenis Dishonesty and Hypocrisy Over Racist National Vanguard Continues

Recently, Robert Sungenis of Catholic Apologetics International wrote:

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

See here for information on The National Vanguard:

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

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

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

Robert and Jason,

One adjective ruins the latest feature article at CAI:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

(Other recipients deleted)
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 11:19:40 -0400 (EDT)


I have to criticise this statement:

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

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

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

Subject: Re: your goodbye message
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 13:17:35 EDT

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

Also note the following at Robert Sungenis and the Jews:

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

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

April 18: Articles removed

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More Sungenis Dishonesty and Plagiarism with Ben Douglass?

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

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

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

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

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

Sungenis: I'll try.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

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

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

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

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

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





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

The following is from Robert Sungenis and the Jews:

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

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

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

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

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

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