Friday, January 16, 2009

More Imprimatur and Canonical Difficulties for Sungenis?

The Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law 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).

But it would appear that Robert Sungenis has decided that Canon Law does not apply to him and his “Catholic Apologetics Study Bibles” (CASB). His first volume on the Gospel according to St. Matthew contains a translation that was not approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops because Sungenis’s translation was not actually a new translation and because of what they described as his use of “dynamic equivalence”, a method of translation that is generally frowned upon. (Article) Yet, he continues to sell this volume to the public.

Sungenis then used the RSV-CE translation for his next two CASBs in order to avoid the problems related to his unapproved translation, although it appears as though he did not obtain the permission necessary to use this translation, either (scroll down to point #5). And while he submitted these CASB volumes for an imprimatur on the commentary portions and assured his patrons that they would receive it, these volumes have not. CASB2 was rejected by Sungenis’s bishop. And if Sungenis was being truthful when he indicated that he had submitted CASB2 for approval to another bishop after his own bishop had rejected it, then it seems clear that CASB2 has been rejected by that bishop as well. (Article 1 and Article 2)

Sungenis is now advertising three new CASBs (The “second edition” of The Epistles of Romans and James, Genesis and 1 Corinthians), which make use of his own “fresh translation” based on a “literal word-for-word rendering.” (Article 1, Article 2 and Article 3).

As there is no mention of any imprimaturs received on these volumes at BTF, it seems reasonable to conclude that Sungenis has again failed to receive the approval required by Canon Law to publish his Scriptural translations in CASB 3, 4 or 5. It also seems reasonable to conclude that Sungenis has also failed to obtain an imprimatur for the commentary portions of those volumes as well.

Of course, these issues are significant in and of themselves.  However, they are particularly pertinent in Sungenis's case for the following reasons:

1) Sungenis has repeatedly presented himself as one with the authority to condemn other Catholics and make public demands upon them (article 1, article 2, article 3) yet he cannot even seem to procure a simple imprimatur for his work any longer.   At this time, it has been roughly eleven years since Sungenis was able to procure an imprimatur for one of his books.

2) While Sungenis has attempted to pin all of his problems on Bishop Rhoades, he claimed to have submitted his work to another bishop as well (article).   And still, Sungenis has yet to receive the Church's official approbation.   And of course, this does not contemplate the fact that Archbishop Burke intervened in order to stop a presentation that Sungenis was scheduled to make in the Diocese of St. Louis in 2008 (scroll to #5).

3) Sungenis has not been honest about matters involving the reception of imprimaturs in the past (article).

4) He has promised his patrons that his CASBs would receive the Church's official approbation in order to prime the well for sales of his books (article).

It appears clear that Sungenis currently lacks the permission necessary to publish a new translation of the Sacred Scriptures. Yet, he has chosen to forge on nonetheless.   And so, as documented in By Sungenis Alone, the pattern of presuming to play the role of bishop apparently continues unabated at BTF.