By Sungenis Alone

Last month at this site I published a short piece entitled “Bishop Rhoades, Sungenis, and the Jews.” The idea was to give Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the Bishop of Harrisburg, a forum in which to present clearly the Church’s teaching regarding her relationship with the Jewish people. This was against the backdrop of defamatory statements made by Bob Sungenis concerning his bishop surrounding this issue.

We received several comments–published and unpublished–at our blog, as well as personal emails, from Bob Sungenis’ supporters concerning this post. Bob himself published a 13-page “response” to Bishop Rhoades, in which he said that everything I wrote pertaining to him in my last post was untrue. This “response” is not to be confused with yet another voluminous, published document entitled “Catholics United for the Faith: Playing Dirty Pool,” which he published when we chose not to give him a forum on our blog.

Given the continued misinformation that is still being generated on the subject, CUF president Mike Sullivan and I agreed to become signatories of a document entitled “By Sungenis Alone,” which provides detailed documentation concerning Bob Sungenis’ conflict with Bishop Rhoades, including Bob’s recent characterizations of our published interview of Bishop Rhoades. To read this document, click here.

14 responses

  1. Mr. Suprenant, thank you for getting all of this information out. I have Jewish friends who are either in or interested in the Church and am horrified that this man has material out for sale with “Catholic” stamped on it. God forbid anyone should ever think he speaks for us.

    God bless Bishop Rhoades and all of you for taking the time to put all of this together.

  2. Thank you for all the information. This has helped clarify a lot regarding this sad issue. Sad, because Sungenis has written some great books. Books that have helped me in developing my faith. However, I can not support him any longer. He is dangerous to the Church. And, he is a deterent to many Jews openly seeking the Truth.

    God Bless Bishop Rhodes!

  3. Sungenis is confusing to read. He gives me a headache. You read him and he almost starts to make sense until you really think about it.

    You’ve all helped to unmuddy the waters. Thanks.

  4. It took me a while (!) but I read through the article. Very well done.

    The comparison between Sungenis’ reactions to the USCCB, Pope JPII, BXVI and Leon Suprenant in relation to dual covenant vs. his reaction to Bishop Rhoades is pretty devastating. I hate to judge, but Sungenis isn’t being honest. There’s no way around it.

    I don’t blame Bishop Rhoades for not giving him imprimaturs. I’m not clear on all the particulars re: the rejections, but I wouldn’t have given him an imprimatur either. He’s too much of a loose canon and a lightning rod and it even comes out in his books as of late. My guess is that the defamatory remarks Sungenis came out with didn’t exactly help either. No common sense.

    I went over to his website and noticed that he’s praising a statement made by Cardinal Kasper about dual covenant. And it doesn’t measure up to the bar he set for Bishop Rhoades. Cardinal Kasper has said his fair share of questionable things re: Jews. But even he gets praise from Sungenis.

    I hate to say it but you hit the nail on the head. Sungenis is an adherent to Solo Mio.

    I know you probably can’t answer this, but I wonder what is driving his obsession with Jews. Obsessions like that don’t just come out of nowhere. I don’t see much of the very worst any longer at CAI, but there’s an article he has posted by Ted Pike now. I remember Pike from a while ago. He’s another Jew-obsesser.

    I agree with you that Sungenis’ theology is still agenda driven when it comes to Jews. He uses it against Jews. His denial of the clear patristic evidence for Jewish restoration and his treatment of the Olive Tree issue are transparently propagandistic. If I were Jewish (I’m not – just in case Sungenis reads this. LOL) I would most certainly come away believing that Sungenis does not want me in the Church unless I come in groveling, and even then, I’m not so sure. I feel badly for Shoeman and Moss. They didn’t deserve such shoddy treatement.

    Last note – I found the quotes from God and the World and Many Religions One Covenant by BXVI to be enlightening. I suppose that’s the lesson. There’s one magisterium and it doesn’t reside at CAI.

    Thanks for the info. Helpful.

  5. I have read your interview with Bishop Rhoades. His answers are ambiguous. This matter can be cleared up with a simple question. Ask Bishop Rhoades if he believes that the Old Covenant made through Moses is now void. Let his Yes be Yes and his no be no. Why you didn’t ask this plain and simple is sloppy. In Charity, ask the good Bishop this one question. I am sure that if Bishop Rhoades answers that the Old Covenant through Moses is void, superseded by the New Covenant, Mr. Sungenis will issue an apology and you will have brought healing to Christian brothers. By the way, I don’t care if you post this or not. I am appealing to you as a Catholic to a Catholic. Pray on this if you really do believe in supporting the Catholic Faith as your title implies.
    Yours in Christ,
    James DePrisco

  6. Thanks for the post, James. Bishop Rhoades has not said or done anything that should require him to undergo some sort of inquisition before his flock is obliged to respect and follow him. I really encourage you to read the “By Sungenis Alone” document that is linked at the bottom of this post. That document covers your concern in detail.

    And on a related note, you might be interested in my more recent post, entitled “Salvation for the Jews,” which may be accessed at http://www.cufblog.org/?p=324.

  7. Bishop Rhoades was far more clear and explicit on this matter than several other individuals who Sungenis has praised as faithfully defending Catholic orthodoxy on this topic. In fact, Sungenis even very recently put up a link to an article by Cardinal Kasper (who certainly has said some questionable things in the past about this covenant issue) at his website right now (under news alerts), saying that Cardinal Kasper “repudiates dual covenant theology”. Yet, the ridiculous demands Sungenis has attempted to place upon Bishop Rhoades are not satisfied by what Cardinal Kasper wrote. The double standard is clear. But then, Cardinal Kasper never ordered Sungenis to refrain from writing about Jewish issues.

    Think for a moment. If Bishop Rhoades believes that Jews have their own covenant that can save them, whether with or without Christ, then why would he have stated that he is firmly behind the evangelization of Jews? What need would they have of conversion if they were fine right where they are (within Judaism)?

    And in fact, this is exactly the argument that Sungenis has made against the problematic Reflections on Covenant and Mission (RCM) document that began all of the controversy back in 2002. He said that the problem boiled down to the non-evangelization of Jews:

    Sungenis: “The RCM has merely been trying, although utterly failing, to set the stage for this bombshell question: Should Catholics convert and baptize the Jews. Everything else in this report is commentary. The real question is conversion… As I have noted previously, neither Nostra Aetate, nor any other document in Vatican II, says that the Church is ever to relinquish her mission to the conversion of the Jews.”

    And he has repeatedly tried to pin the RCM document on Bishop Rhoades as the essence of his error. The problem, of course, is that in his statement to me, Bishop Rhoades unequivocally affirmed the Church’s missionary mandate to all people, even specifically mentioning Jews. Still, Sungenis claims that the statement by Bishop Rhoades “proves nothing.”

    Then also consider this statement that Bishop Rhoades made in his letter to me:

    “It is not correct to speak of two independent covenants in effect today, one for Jews and one for Gentiles, since Jesus is the only Savior who continues His saving work in the Church and by means of the Church, His Body. There is only one salvific economy.”

    I don’t see how anyone, other than Sungenis or someone who has first become confused by him, could find this less than clear regarding the dual covenant error.

    Additionally, Sungenis is playing fast and loose with his charges vis a vis the terminology used in my questions and His Excellency’s responses:

    http://sungenisandthejews.blogspot.com/2008/03/by-sungenis-alone_29.html#nineteen

    I would suggest reading at least these four sections of the article By Sungenis Alone in order to understand the duplicity, double-standards and obfuscation employed by Sungenis:

    http://sungenisandthejews.blogspot.com/2008/03/by-sungenis-alone_29.html#eight

    http://sungenisandthejews.blogspot.com/2008/03/by-sungenis-alone_29.html#seven

    http://sungenisandthejews.blogspot.com/2008/03/by-sungenis-alone_29.html#21

    http://sungenisandthejews.blogspot.com/2008/03/by-sungenis-alone_29.html#twelve

    Sungenis is operating in bad faith. All of this is an attempt to divert attention away from the actual issues involved that brought about the intervention of Bishop Rhoades: Sungenis’ serial prejudice against Jews (which also extends even to certain other theological issues: http://sungenisandthejews.blogspot.com/2008/02/theology-of-prejudice.html ) combined with his abuse of the “Catholic” moniker in propagating it. Bishop Rhoades has never said or written anything unorthodox about the dual covenant issue. Never. Sungenis has never provided a shred of evidence to the contrary. His Excellency never told Sungenis he couldn’t write about the dual covenant error…only that Sungenis had to stop using the offensive tone and content that had become so commonplace at his website.

    If you have not already seen them, below are some samples of the kind of issues that prompted the intervention of Bishop Rhoades:

    http://sungenisandthejews.blogspot.com/2007/03/sixteen-proofs-of-sungeniss-anti.html

    http://www.sungenisandthejews.com/Section2.html

    As such, it is unseemly that anyone would even suggest that a Catholic bishop needs to sign off on a statement (or series of statements such as Sungenis personally concocted) that appears nowhere in any council, catechism or other authoritative Catholic source in order to exonerate himself from charge that is totally baseless in the first place. It is very strange to me that anyone would so turn Catholic order on its head.

  8. Below is a faithful copy of a newspaper article that is no longer accessible on the internet. Here Bishop Rhoades categorically denies the Catholic Church has any intention to convert the Jews so that they may obtain salvation. Bishop Rhoades has had three months to correct this newspaper article and he has not done it.
    Mr. Sungenis may be a lot closer to the true estimation regarding Bishop Rhoades’ denial of the two-covenant heresy. Either Bishop Rhoades thinks the Jews can be saved in their ignorance and rejection of Jesus Christ and His Church or he does not care about their salvation at all.
    Downey
    Newspaper Reports Bishop Rhoades Denies that the Catholic Church Seeks the Salvation of Jews
    At a Holocaust memorial service Wednesday night, April 30th, at which Bishop Rhoades was the keynote speaker, one Jewish observer asked Rhoades about the Good Friday prayer of the “Tridentine” Mass, which had called for the conversion of Jews to Christianity. Rhoades said there is no Catholic campaign to convert Jews, adding that the prayer is not meant to disrespect Jews. He said Benedict has changed the prayer, adding that the pope discussed this issue with Jewish leaders while he was in New York City in mid-April. Rhoades said there will continue to be a dialogue between the two faiths.
    “Nostra Aetate,” written during the Second Vatican Council in 1965…”marked a truly new beginning in the (Catholic) Church’s relationship with Judaism,” Rhoades said. The document deplored “all hatreds, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism leveled at any time or from any source against the Jews.”
    By LORI VAN INGEN, Staff Reporter, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal

  9. In the interview with Bishop Rhoades that we previously published on this blog, His Excellency said, among other things:

    “I do not believe that the Jewish people have their own independent salvific covenant with God, apart from Jesus Christ. It is not correct to speak of two independent saving covenants in effect today, one for Jews and one for Gentiles, since Jesus is the only Savior, who continues His saving work in the Church and by means of the Church, His Body. There is only one salvific economy. . . . I have always affirmed the unicity and universality of the salvific mystery of Jesus Christ. The salvation possible for our Jewish brothers and sisters, indeed for any person, is only through the grace of Christ. . . .

    “I believe that the Church is called to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples, including the Jewish people. This is the Church’s missionary mandate, received from Christ. That is why I so strongly support and promote the Propagation of the Faith and the Church’s missionary endeavors.”

    The no-longer-available secular newspaper article quoted in the previous comment only minimally quotes Bishop Rhoades, and it does not provide a transcript of his presentation.

    “Newspaper Reports Bishop Rhoades Denies that the Catholic Church Seeks the Salvation of Jews” seems like an unlikely title for the newspaper article, but assuming it is, I agree that it’s disappointing that the paper would so grossly mischaracterize Bishop Rhoades’ speech.

    It would seem that the Bishop’s presence at the Holocaust memorial service as well as his ongoing dialogue with the Jewish community in keeping with Nostra Aetate (as reported) demonstrates an appropriate concern for the salvation of the Jewish people. It’s also reported that he talked about the controversial Good Friday prayer, which even in its revised form calls for the conversion of Jews.

    The reported comment about their being “no Catholic campaign” to convert Jews, given the context, clearly seems to me to be talking about the Church not targeting or singling out the Jewish community for proselytism or mistreatment.

  10. I’m not sure of the sense in which Leon Suprenant is using the word “proselytism,” but I don’t believe that Catholics should reject this word, or bracket it with “mistreatment.” In *Acts* 2:11–ironically–St. Luke uses *proselutoi* of those who have converted from paganism to Judaism; clearly, in that context, it is not a negative word.

    When we spread the one true Faith “with love, prudence and patience” (*CCC* 2104, quoting Vatican II’s statement on religious liberty), we are doing something positive, good, and even mandatory. This is just as true of our duty to spread the revealed religion to our Jewish brothers and sisters as it is true of our obligation to disseminate the Gospel to any other people who do not yet believe in it at all or who, like our evangelical Protestant neighbors, believe in it inadequately.

    Keep and spread the Faith.

  11. I agree with your second paragraph, Stephen. As for your first paragraph, Stephen, you’re also right in terms of the etymology of proselytism, and historically it applied to the missionary activity of the Church.

    However, the term has taken on some negative connotations such that it implies a coercive approach that precisely lacks love, prudence, and patience. I meant proselytism in that negative sense, which is the more widely understood usage today. For example, see Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 2007 document “Doctrinal Notes on Some Aspects of Evangelization, footnote 49:

    “The term proselytism originated in the context of Judaism, in which the term proselyte referred to someone who, coming from the gentiles, had passed into the Chosen People. So too, in the Christian context, the term proselytism was often used as a synonym for missionary activity. More recently, however, the term has taken on a negative connotation, to mean the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person. It is in this sense that the term proselytism is understood in the context of the ecumenical movement: cf. The Joint Working Group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, ‘The Challenge of Proselytism and the Calling to Common Witness’ (1995).”

    Thanks for the clarification, Stephen.

  12. Especially in light of the new developments involving the United States Catechism for Catholic Adults (as documented at the CUF blog: http://www.cufblog.org/?p=407), I second your reasoned response to “Downey” (and Stephen, for that matter). I would add that in “Downey’s” case, it is disappointing to see a Catholic so ready to jump to such negative conclusions about a Catholic bishop based upon such a brief account in the secular press. I have spent considerable time clearing up such supposed “neutral stories” about priests and bishops in the past on various issues. Sometimes they are innocent, sometimes they are not. Oftentimes inaccurate wordings flow from simple misunderstandings or the preconceptions and/or subconscious leanings of the secular writer.

    At the very least, it is imprudent to simply accept such news accounts without question. And even so in this case, there is more than ample room to understand what transpired without resorting to the false dichotomy offered by “Downey.” Furthermore, it is impossible to know if Bishop Rhoades even read this story; therefore “Downey’s” implication that His Excellency must be in full agreement with it simply because of his lack of a public reaction is unsupportable. Of course, as you pointed out, we have clear and direct language from Bishop Rhoades himself on this issue. Therefore, it makes little sense to seek out far less trustworthy and authoritative sources – unless, perhaps, one is operating with a particular agenda.

    In this, perhaps “Downey’s” post also illustrates one of the reasons why the spirit of public disobedience and disrespect exhibited by Mr. Sungenis against Bishop Rhoades over the past year is so problematic. It gives an unfortunate example that at least some Sungenis supporters follow to varying degrees, whether in a misguided effort to support him or not.

    Again, the article you posted here – http://www.cufblog.org/?p=407 is yet another reminder that we ought not to jump to the worst possible conclusions about anyone – yet alone our bishops.

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