NOTE: This in-depth study covers from 2002 to September 2006 (September 2006 is when this study was published) and details Robert Sungenis's problematic history related to the Jewish people. Section 2 includes Sungenis' problematic statements relating to the Jewish people. For additional information about Sungenis and the Jewish people (covering from September 2006 to the present) - including the intervention of Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Archbishop Raymond Burke, the Diocese of San Bernardino and the Knights of Columbus, you may visit the Robert Sungenis and the Jews blog (which was last updated September 2012).
The study below has been divided into 5 successive "sections." Each section is always available by clicking on one of the buttons on the upper far-left side of the page.
Bob Sungenis has responded to this study with various personal charges and attempts at motive divination. Of course, all of this is completely irrelevant to the evidence against him in regard to Jewish issues. However, as he has just recently increased the volume and intensity of his personal accusations, it seems perhaps that it is now appropriate to at least set the record straight. I will not go so far as to absolutely judge Bob's honesty in the way that he has judged me, but I will say that he is seriously wrong and I will say that he ought to have known better. Unfortunately, Bob displays a persistent pattern of demonizing those who leave their association with him because of a serious disagreement. Suddenly, such people who Bob once dubbed “geniuses”, “forthright and honest”, “best friends”, “radiating with the love of God,” become people who Bob had always considered with dark "suspicion", as “opportunists” with shady motives and “Judases.”
For those who agree that all of this is irrelevant, I encourage you to skip right to the documentation below. But for those who are confused or concerned by what Bob has written and would like to read more, click here to read my reply. (Additionally, Jacob Michael and David Palm have informed me of their detailed responses here, here and here.)
In regard to substantive issues, there is no need to re-present the evidence. I only ask the reader to examine it as a whole. In his response to this piece, in his "Open Letter" to his CAI patrons and in other places, Bob seems to have effectively conceded almost all of the specific points made in the introduction directly below.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that Bob completely and indefinitely abandons these kinds of practices, regardless of who is targeted; for his sake, the sake of those he labels and condemns and lastly, for the sake of all the people who innocently encounter his writings.
By Sungenis Alone - signed by Michael Forrest, David Palm, Leon Suprenant (CUF), Michael Sullivan (CUF), Jacob Michael, Benjamin Douglass (former VP of CAI/BTF), Dr. Art Sippo, Michael Lopez, John Novotny and Patrick Morris
It is with reluctance that I write what follows.I have prayed that the issue I am about to address would eventually resolve itself.Unfortunately, the opposite has occurred.I have gone through some tumultuous events and changes with Bob Sungenis at his apostolate, Catholic Apologetics International (CAI), and have defended him when other associates and friends either would or could not.And when the time came, I privately and frankly voiced my concerns to Bob (about a year and a half ago) about his treatment of Jewish issues when these concerns were less serious than they are now. Many other friends and associates have also addressed these issues with him but to little or no permanent effect. For the sake of others who innocently encounter his views, whether at his website or in other venues and publications, I have come to the conclusion that they must be addressed publicly.
However, before I continue, I would like to make clear my continued respect for Bob's work in Not by Scripture Alone and Not by Faith Alone.I also appreciate the time and experiences I had both as the vice president of CAI, and simply as Bob’s friend and colleague.I have no desire to harm Bob.And it is precisely for these kinds of reasons that I have refrained for so long from what is about to follow.
With that, however, I must now convey some very troubling and distasteful material. In this study I have compiled a large volume of information about Bob Sungenis’ treatment of a great many Jewish issues (although, there is much more I could have included). I have conveyed this information at such length, even revisiting back to September 2002 (when his views first came to the fore), for one primary reason: because I know from my own personal experience how difficult it can be to accept negative things about a friend, colleague or source one has come to trust. I know that any one piece of information (or even a few) may conceivably be explained, rationalized or overlooked. However, like Modernism, it is the entire pattern that most clearly illustrates the nature and extent of the problem. And I believe what I have compiled proves conclusively that there is a significant and troubling pattern discernible in Bob’s own writing and the posts at CAI.
While others decided they had to leave, I continued to privately defend and excuse things that I should not have in retrospect because I had neither the time nor inclination to examine them more thoroughly. And candidly, the absolute confidence and assertiveness with which Bob responds to seemingly all issues and objections also made me doubt my own eyes at times. But I think perhaps part of the problem was that I wanted some of his explanations, defenses and excuses to be true and so I accepted them. I wanted to believe the best about Bob. It was only over time and through circumstance that I was forced to recognize that my friendship with and respect for Bob had caused me to be unduly tolerant and deferential.*
From witnessing the past attempts of others to address some of these issues, it seems certain that what I have written will elicit vehement denials, personal denunciations and attacks from Bob and at least a few well-known Traditionalist colleagues who have taken to aggressively defending and allying themselves with him on Jewish issues, both publicly and behind the scenes.And so I ask readers to carefully consider the information presented below in its entirety.I freely acknowledge that I am not an “expert” on Jewish issues or many other issues for that matter.Unlike Bob, I am certainly not a professional debater.I do believe I’m relatively informed, however.Be that as it may, I don’t think such expertise is necessary to convey what I have, below.I do know the history surrounding this issue rather intimately.While it has been anything but a labor of love, I have tried to carefully and thoroughly document what follows.
To be clear, I intend to assert and document the following:
1) Bob Sungenis expresses views in regard to “Jewish issues” in such a way as to explicitly or implicitly convey a level of certainty and authentic scholarship that is materially exaggerated.He is not an authority or expert on these issues.
2) He 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) He 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.
4) He maintains a vigorous commitment to expressing and propagating these views and an unwillingness to retract or genuinely apologize for any of them.
I do not intend to:
1) Systematically engage all the negative views and assertions repeated by Bob in regard to Jews.While this may well be a worthwhile endeavor for someone to undertake, this is not critical to the issues as laid out and I have neither the time nor inclination to pursue it at this point.They may contain varied amounts of truth.But points
1-4 enumerated above are sufficiently demonstrative of a serious issue in and of themselves without delving into such a project.
2) Charge Bob Sungenis with Anti-Semitism.I am not certain what has created the negative predisposition evident in his writings and at his website. (Update: as of March 2007, I have changed my opinion and consider Bob Sungenis at least a material anti-Semite. Click here for the article).
3) Assert or imply that being Jewish (or any ethnicity or religion, for that matter) exempts one from criticism.
* Click here for some additional background on the circumstances referred to above.
by Mr. David Palm, Dr. Art Sippo, Mr. Michael Lopez, Mr. Matthew Anger, Mr. Ben Douglass*, Mr. John Novotny, Mr. Jacob Michael and Mr. Patrick Morris.
Mr. David Palm
The following is by David Palm. Mr. Palm is a Traditionalist who has been a friend of Bob’s since about 1997. He has been a Catholic apologist and writer for twelve years. He has written for New Oxford Review, The Remnant, This Rock, Envoy, Immaculata, Hands on Apologetics, Catholic World Report, The Coming Home Journal and many other Catholic websites including Seattle Catholic. He recently wrote an essay for Bob’s upcoming book on inerrancy and was invited by Bob to speak at a Catholic conference on the same topic:
When Bob Sungenis first declared himself a traditionalist Catholic I was pleased and hopeful. The obvious tensions within Catholicism were increasingly worrisome to me and "battle lines" between traditionalist and neo-conservative Catholics were hardening. I saw great potential for Bob to occupy the “via media” between these two camps. I watched his apostolate closely and even lent my assistance and support as I could.
I am sorry to say that that potential has been squandered and I can no longer lend this support. For, as Michael Forrest has demonstrated, the topic of Jews and Judaism has become a core issue for CAI. And, as Michael has demonstrated, the positions taken, the research methods utilized, the sources cited, and the conclusions stated by Bob on the issue of Jews and Judaism are so problematic that continued association with the apostolate has become a moral impossibility.
Certainly this stance will raise hackles and objections in various quarters. So I think it is important to short-circuit attempts to move the focus of this discussion onto related and important, but ultimately irrelevant objections. Let me say categorically then, that I do not raise my objections because CAI insists that Jewish people need to convert to the Catholic Faith for the salvation of their souls. They do, just like all non-Catholics. Let me say, too, that my objections do not stem from CAI's opposition to those who claim that the Old Covenant is still in force. It is not still in force, but rather has been subsumed under and fulfilled in the New Covenant, which is now God's sole covenant with both Jews and Gentiles. On those two points I will stand against anyone who teaches the contrary. And finally, in no way am I suggesting that the ethnic or religious identity of any individual or group, by itself, places them above all criticism.
Rather, this is about the Golden Rule. It is about treating our opponents and even our enemies as we wish to be treated. As Michael Forrest has pointed out in his study, we are rightly outraged when anti-Catholics dredge up the worst possible muck committed by individual Catholics and use it to broad brush the entire Catholic Faith. We accurately denounce them as bigots. Why, then, would any Catholic apologist feel justified in applying the same treatment toward any other group, whether ethnic or religious? Is there some reason why the epithet bigot does not apply to anyone who treats his opponents in such a fashion?
This is also about truth. Catholic apologists are in the truth business. And when Catholic apologists criticize books and articles that they have not read, cite highly questionable secondary sources that they have not verified, and pontificate at great length about topics on which they have done poor and spotty research, it shows that something other than the truth has been put into the driver's seat. It is not enough to point to past work as evidence that one is capable of good research and a balanced presentation. Past goods don’t excuse present serious errors in judgment, inaccurate and inflammatory rhetoric, and discreditable research.
Traditionalist Catholics hold legitimate positions on a host of issues that are of immediate concern to Catholics. Our voice is sorely needed on matters pertaining to the place of the traditional Roman Rite in the Church, the excesses of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, the breakdown of ecclesiastical discipline, and the difficulties posed by recent examples of apparent discontinuity with prior magisterial teaching. But when focus goes off of these critical issues, the movement is fractured and its potential good dissipated. This is especially the case when, on a highly controversial topic, passion and emotion are substituted for calm deliberation and inflammatory verbiage is substituted for dispassionate rhetoric.
My own hope continues to be that the damage that Bob has dealt to CAI through his own imprudence is not irreparable. He is a man with notable gifts and talents which can and should be used to further the good of the Catholic Church. But it is all too evident that there are subjects on which Bob is ill-equipped academically, emotionally, and spiritually. I hope that even now, this broad attempt at fraternal correction can bring about a change of heart and mind, that Bob's considerable talents can be refocused and utilized with great effect for the salvation of souls and the good of Christ's Church.
Note: David Palm has written a reply to Bob's most recent accusations here.
Dr. Art Sippo
The following was written by Dr. Art Sippo, who has been a Catholic apologist since 1975, a friend of Bob’s since 1995 and a former associate at Catholic Apologetics International. Dr. Sippo was asked by Bob to write a chapter for a book he planned on the inerrancy of papal teaching and also to edit Bob’s apologetics study Bible (the book of Ephesians). These projects went by the wayside after the unfortunate events of 2002. While there have been some disagreements and tensions between Bob and Dr. Sippo, Dr. Sippo has continued to publicly defend Bob against various charges:
Beginning in 2002, Bob Sungenis began taking very disturbing positions with regard to Jews and Judaism which ultimately cost him dearly. He lost his support from all mainstream Catholic apologists and Catholic organizations and was banned from EWTN where he had been doing educational programming. Many of Bob's friends -- myself included -- tried to dissuade him from the extremes he was espousing, but this effort only seemed to engender greater defiance. Questionable material showed up on his website which was suspiciously like the material on openly Anti-Semitic and Neo-Nazi websites. Bob removed some of this material after he received so many protests, but not all of it. And more of this type of material has appeared on his website in recent months. There seems to be no end in sight to this policy.
Bob Sungenis is bright man with many gifts that he has tried to put at the service of the Catholic Church. But I am afraid that he has a serious problem with which he has not been able to deal. When queried about Jews and Judaism Bob becomes defensive and he adamantly denies having any animus toward them. But looking at the material that shows up on his website, his denials are not credible. We have already seen where views of this type ultimately lead: Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Treblinka. It is time for us to say openly that such slanders and prejudice against the Jewish people are not merely lies, which alone should preclude a Catholic from holding them. They are dangerous and cost lives. It would be irresponsible of me as a Catholic apologist to ignore this.
I am Bob's friend and I have no malice towards him. I am concerned that he has started wandering into increasingly extreme and questionable areas that have taken him well out of the mainstream of Catholic thought and which may be leading him out of the Church. I am very alarmed about this. I call upon everyone to pray for my friend Bob that he may have a conversion of heart. I also call upon Bob to listen to his friends and his fellow Catholics and to heed what we have been saying. A renegade apologist can do grave damage to the Catholic Church and Her reputation.
Art Sippo MD, MPH
Mr. Michael Lopez
The following is written by Catholic apologist Michael Lopez. Mr. Lopez has known Bob since 1997 and was an associate with Catholic Apologetics International from 1998 to 2002, making presentations on the faith for the organization from time to time. He is widely known for his writings under the moniker “Matt1618” and has a Catholic apologetics website at http://matt1618.freeyellow.com:
In this study, Michael Forrest wrote that he debated the possibility of quietly leaving CAI because of Bob Sungenis's treatment of Jewish issues and he indicated that others had done so. I am one such example of an individual who chose to leave quietly. I made no public comments as to why I was no longer a part of CAI and I do not treasure criticizing someone who was helpful in my growth as a Catholic apologist. Bob has done great apologetics work with good documentation and footnotes in books in such areas as Justification, the Eucharist and the Bible. He has been enlightening in other areas as well. The documentation that he provides for those books and other works is impressive. Bob has always at least seemed make extensive efforts to find primary sources to buttress the arguments he has made in defending the true, Catholic faith.
In 2001-2002, Bob went into some questionable areas that concerned me. His treatment of Jews and Judaism was one such area. I noticed a disturbing trend towards some of the things that Michael shows in this study. I admit I did nothing to ‘confront’ him on this issue; I knew that others were doing so. As Bob and I were going in different directions, I left CAI quietly.
Bob rightly wants to evangelize Jews with the good news of Jesus Christ and his Church and is rightly concerned about not watering down the need to evangelize them, as even some prelates have seemed to do. I share those concerns. Yes, Jews do need to come to Jesus and the Church that He established. Part of evangelization though, is treating people fairly and truthfully. You are not going to evangelize them by using sources that are plainly anti-Semitic. In fact, Bob has even unfairly treated some Jews who have come to the true faith and seems to have called their very Catholicity into question.
As Michael shows, Bob borrows from sources that are unquestionably anti-Semitic. And he also shows that Bob has obfuscated that fact, while continuing to rely on these sources, even at times without attributing those sources when he makes his arguments against ‘Zionism.’
Although up to this point Bob has a reputation for good documentation and his books reflect good scholarship, the methods that he uses in this particular area unfortunately call into question all of his work. If he is so shoddy in this area, who is to say that his other works are all that credible, after all? At least this is what a Protestant may predictably say when Bob correctly exposes the errors of Protestantism.
I encourage Bob to rethink his position on this issue because it hurts his credibility as a whole. I hope that this endeavor by Michael Forrest will help Bob see this. May God’s blessing be on this work.
Note:Michael Lopez has written a reply to Bob's accusations regarding the reasons for his contribution to this piece and other statements Bob made in reference to him. Michael's reply may be viewed by clicking here.
Mr. Matthew Anger
The following statement was written by Traditionalist author Matthew Anger. Mr. Anger was received into Church in 1991 and began publishing with traditionalist journals in 1995, including the Angelus, Remnant, The Catholic, and Catholic Family News. In recent years he has written for Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Seattle Catholic and Latin Mass. For many years he was aligned with the SSPX; however, in 2003 he began attending the Indult in the Richmond Diocese. Matthew currently blogs at Imlac's Journal and has recently edited a volume of short stories by Hilaire Belloc:
In April 2006, I confronted Robert Sungenis with the fact that he was citing and linking to materials on the white supremacist National Vanguard website. Mr. Sungenis used writings from this site even after being informed by his VP of their unsavory, racialist connection. However, eventually claiming that he would take them down, I acted in good faith by removing my online statements documenting this problem. This was not, however, a retraction of my criticism (as Sungenis later claimed). As it turns out, Sungenis continued to maintain inflammatory content despite our exchange.
While acknowledging his contributions to Catholic apologetics in the past, the fact remains that Sungenis does not want to remedy the obvious difficulties with his recent writings. These display an animus towards Jews, going beyond a prudent and carefully argued theological/religious discussion. This is clear in his uncritical use of sources authored by anti-Semites and holocaust deniers. I am not attacking Mr. Sungenis personally, but am simply voicing alarm at fringe ideological (and non-Christian) views being passed off as "Catholic truth."
Mr. Ben Douglass
Ben Douglass is the current VP at Bob Sungenis’s apostolate, CAI. Below are some recent statements he has made about Bob and his treatment of various issues related to this study (these statements were made to an individual who sent questions in to CAI and may be read in their full context under addendum #2 “Dialogue with a CAI Questioner”. * Their inclusion here is not intended to imply his intentional cooperation with this study.) :
IMPORTANT UPDATE (April 2007): Since the initial publication of this website, as a direct result of Sungenis' problematic treatment of Jewish issues, Ben Douglass has terminated his association with Robert Sungenis and CAI. Ben has published four very important articles detailing various aspects of Sungenis' treatment of Jewish issues (in chronological order):
(Douglass): “It is important to have the utmost balance and restraint when critiquing the Talmud, since Judaism is such a sensitive subject. So, I would strongly urge you (note: Bob Sungenis) not to make any strong claims about the Talmud without thorough documentation and careful study of context and commentary.”
(Douglass): “I think Robert has a tendency to treat the…extreme as representative of the Talmud, perhaps because he is following references from secondary sources which make it a point to highlight all the worst.”
(Douglass): “I'm not sure where Robert's statement, ‘Actually, the word ‘goyim’ is the Hebrew word for ‘animal’ or ‘cattle,’ since that is what Jews have traditionally understood Gentiles to be next to’ comes from. It seems to me to be an indictment of the Old Testament and biblical inerrancy, since as far as I know this is what the Old Testament calls gentiles.”
Then, in regard to an article that ran at CAI, a CAI questioner asked where it came from and why it was errantly titled there in a way that portrayed Jerry Falwell as though he believed Jewish people did not need Jesus. Ben had the following to say:
When questioned about the seriously problematic nature of the website, Ben then wrote:
(Douglass): “I looked at the National Vanguard site for a while. The group is a bit unsavory. If I were Robert I would not have picked up the article…”
While many people might deem calling this site "a bit unsavory" an understatement, it is at least clear that Ben Douglass recognizes that it is problematic and not suitable for a purportedly Catholic website.
This was all documented by Matthew Anger, as mentioned above.
Mr. John Novotny
The following is written by Mr. John Novotny. Mr. Novotny is a very talented and creative website designer. He was the webmaster for Catholic Apologetics International in 2004-2005.
I was webmaster at Catholic Apologetics International for little over a year and, as far as I know, the last to leave CAI. I was initially attracted to the genius of Robert Sungenis's Catholic apologetics, and so I poured my heart and soul into the redesign of the site, as well as my duties as webmaster and graphic designer. I was upset by the problems in the Church and found Robert's style refreshing. However, as time wore on, I was increasingly disturbed by certain comments made about the Pope. Ringing in the back of my mind was a quote from St John Bosco, a saint who foresaw the troubles that the 20th century would bring for the Church, which I paraphrase, "beware of those who speak against the Pope, stay away from them" [link].
I have no objection to those who criticize the foreign policy or politics of Israel or Zionism. But in a scholarly and public forum, it must be done with honesty and integrity, not with bigoted or poorly researched statements. Otherwise we risk walking the path of Loraine Boettner and Jack Chick.
Robert Sungenis' Catholic apologetics work is far superior to anything Chick or Boettner have produced, but sadly, it seems that he is not above making their mistakes when writing about Jews. In approaching such controversial subject matter, why would one use the same tactics that we so despise in bigoted anti-Catholic material when we have such good examples from saints like Maximilian Kolbe and others?
When a friend brought up these issues, they hit me like a brick. I started to seriously consider leaving CAI, a process that took several months. These issues were not the only reason I had for leaving but were among the deciding factors. The final decision was indeed a heart-wrenching one. And I would like to apologize for any hand I had in promoting the negative aspects of CAI's apostolate.
I hope and pray that Robert turns CAI around, as there is much that is good there. It would be a terrible shame to see CAI go down as a cesspool of National Vanguard quotes and Catholic apologetics.
On a positive note I'm genuinely pleased to see that Robert has changed his approach to the Pope, and we should keep praying for him. Robert very recently wrote the following:
"I agree with you, Dave. I framed my criticisms of John Paul II's faulty
prudential decisions in a reactionary, extreme and denigrating manner.
I guess I was so upset, my emotions got the best of me in those days.
Although I think I see in your letter that you would probably agree with
many of my concerns about John Paul II, you are right in rebuking me for
the manner in which I expressed it. I will be much more careful in the future,
thanks to you and others who have told me the same. I have written a letter
to Dr. Mirus expressing the same, and all the offending passages regarding
John Paul II have been removed from our website. For the record, I still do
believe that John Paul II made many prudential errors in judgment in his papacy,
but I made an error in couching my criticism with such denigrating comments."
September 2006 QA - Question 26
"Iron Sharpens Iron"
Note:John Novotny has written a rebuttal to Bob's accusations regarding what occurred shortly before I left CAI as well as Bob's mischaracterization of the reasons for John's contribution to this piece. His rebuttal may be viewed here.
Mr. Jacob Michael
The following is written by Jacob Michael, a Traditionalist who has known Bob for about five years. Mr. Michael effectively became the second in charge at Bob’s apostolate after John Pacheco left in late 2002, acting as an apologist and web-master. He was Bob’s most ardent and prolific public defender against charges of Anti-Semitism. He has also very recently collaborated with CAI’s current vice-president, Ben Douglass, on a piece regarding the New American Bible. Mr. Michael has written for Catholic Family News, The Remnant, From the Housetops, Stephen Heiner's True Restoration, The Daily Catholic, Rorate Caeli, Trad Reviews as well as his own website, Lumengentleman.com:
Eating humble pie is never a fun thing to do; however, the Scriptural maxim remains true today that God opposes the proud, and gives grace to the humble, and so with that in mind, I am prepared to digest the unsavory dish before me. This would not be the first time I have had to do so, and ironically enough, the last time I had to retract certain statements in such a public manner was also related to my work with Bob Sungenis and Catholic Apologetics International (those who remember the "Mr. X" fiasco with David King and William Webster will know what I mean).
In August of 2002, a committee of the USCCB released the document "Reflections on Covenant and Mission", in which it was asserted that it is no longer theologically acceptable for the Church to focus on Jews for conversion, because the Jews are already part of a salvific covenant with God - namely, the Old Covenant.
Bob's response to this document was his 35,000-word essay "Conversion of the Jews Not Necessary?? The Apocalyptic Ramifications of a Novel Teaching", an essay that - it is clear - contained several instances of plagiarism, and relied upon dubious sources.
I initially defended Bob against his attackers; like Michael, my reaction was influenced by the fact that Bob's attackers had theological leanings that I disagreed with; as an actual interaction with their specific charges, it failed miserably. As I read back over my defense of Bob today, it is not hard to see where the defensible and the indefensible overlap. The larger issue (the USCCB document) clouded the smaller issues (plagiarism, reliance upon dubious sources, etc.) - but as time has gone on, and as Michael has shown in this work, the smaller issues have in fact become the big issue for Bob.
Unfortunately, the evidence Michael has collected and compiled here is impossible to deny. Bob seems to be operating according to a series of double-standards; he has shown that he has no problem gathering his material from authors and web sites that no Catholic has any business reading; he has proven that inaccuracy and sloppy research are acceptable to him, if the larger issue at hand is worth debunking - the ends justify the means.
Like Michael, I was under the impression that Bob had apologized for the 2002 article; I made references to this fact multiple times in my defense of him. Going back over the material that Michael has presented, it is clear that Bob never did apologize; he removed the material but insisted that he stood by all of it; he continues to refer people to that article, even years after the debacle.
Today, Bob continues to regurgitate material from White Supremacist sources; he continues to promote suspicion of Jews by parading before his readers all sorts of salacious "facts" concerning a great Jewish conspiracy against the Church. As I read his material, I have the same questions Michael does: what is the point of all of this? What am I, the reader, supposed to conclude from this information? What I am supposed to do about it? What action is this sustained polemic supposed to produce?
I will repeat here what I mentioned to Michael in private: if someone presented me with stacks of papers supposedly proving that my next door neighbor was hatching a nefarious plot to destroy me and my family, you can be reasonably certain that I would be preparing an equally violent defense. In fact, I would probably begin preparing my own pre-emptive strike against my neighbor. Suspicion produces fear; fear produces hate; hate and fear mixed together produce hostility and, eventually, violence.
I am concerned about what Bob's work in this area will ultimately yield, in terms of concrete reaction. He has not hesitated to go after even those Jews who have converted to the Catholic Faith, warning us that even here there is a conspiracy to fear. What kind of reaction can this produce, if not that I, the reader, will begin to distrust every single Jewish person who crosses my path, including the ones who may kneel beside me at the Communion Rail?
Out of a desire to be charitable, I would like to give Bob the benefit of the doubt: perhaps he spreads this material because it is sensational, and sensationalism attracts visitors to his web site. But even so, the end result cannot be good; it can only result in fear (at a minimum), and even in dividing the Body of Christ. Here, in the Mystical Body, there is no Jew or Gentile - this is the teaching of St. Paul. But how can this be a reality for me, if I have learned to treat Jewish converts precisely as Jews, to fear them as such, and to distrust them and their motives, even as I receive the sacramental Body of Christ together with them?
Whatever mixture of motivations Bob's original detractors might have had back in 2002, their specific criticisms have largely proven to be correct: Bob apparently has a deeply-rooted problem with Jews as Jews, and is willing to throw responsible scholarship and factual accuracy to the wind if it means "exposing" the Jews. Someone who is willing to rely so heavily on secondary and tertiary sources, anti-Jewish propaganda, White Supremacist writers, and fudged quotes is not someone who can be trusted as an authority on this issue.
This is the purpose of Michael's piece; I wish to underscore this again by saying that Bob cannot be trusted as an unbiased and accurate source of information about Jewish issues. His work in defense of Catholicism against Protestant objections remains first-rate; but when the subject involves Jews, he has demonstrated a blindness that prevents him from rendering a fair judgment, and would be much better off if he simply left these issues to those who are truly qualified.
His bias is particularly clear in several areas, including his treatment of the Church Fathers concerning the eventual conversion of the Jews (see his dialogue with Mark Cameron on the subject). For whatever reason, it appears that Bob cannot countenance the idea that the Jewish people will one day be equal sharers with the Gentiles in the riches of Christ's Mystical Body. That alone speaks volumes about his ability to serve as a non-biased source of information about Jewish issues - theologically, historically, or in any other way.
After having read and re-read Michael's work below, I willingly give it my own approval, and make its aims and intentions my own. My prayer is that Bob will come to recognize his own scholarly deficiencies in this particular area, and cease to present himself as an authority on these subjects.
Mr. Patrick Morris
The following is written by Mr. Patrick Morris, a Catholic writer who worked as an apologist for Catholic Apologetics International for three years (2002-2005). Aside from his work at CAI, he has also been published in Challenge Magazine. His work may now be found at Friends of La Nef:
I can still remember the horror I felt as I sat in my 11th grade chemistry class and listened to my teacher tell of her father's experiences in a Concentration Camp. She told of how he was forced to pick vegetables from his feces and wash them in order to re-cook them to sustain himself for another day. Such was life under the Swastika.
What is even more amazing is that this man, as far as I can remember, was not even a Jew. He just happened to be a simple Croatian man who found himself on the wrong side of Nazi Germany's racial barrier. The most important thing I learned from my chemistry teacher that day had nothing to do with chemistry; what I learned, rather, is that pseudo-science and bogus scholarship have a perverse charisma that can lead regular people to commit unspeakable acts against others who are - like it or not - created by the same God.
A fonder memory, on the other hand, is the immense joy I felt as a "reverted" Catholic who had found his way through the bogus scholarship of Protestantism back home to the Catholic Church. I can say with all honesty that the biggest influence in my return to the Church was a very gifted apologist named Robert Sungenis. It was with great excitement that I was received as a staff apologist at CAI back in October 2002. I was deeply grateful that my favorite (and, in my opinion the best) Catholic apologist had taken me in, relative "babe in arms" that I was - and still am.
In light of all this, during my work at CAI I began to see a disturbing trend in Robert's writing. For a long time, I sided with Robert's zealous statements regarding traditional Catholicism. In fact, if it wasn't for Robert, and his associate Jacob Michael, I probably never would have discovered traditional Catholicism. But, as time went on, I became disturbed at the tone of the articles coming from our website. It seemed that behind every modern pope was lurking some dark secret that only the initiated, like ourselves, could see. It seemed like anything and everything could be said about these Vicars of Christ, even going so far as make claims such as, "no wonder he [John XXIII] died of stomach cancer" because he didn't do the Fatima Consecration as requested by our Blessed Mother. "As true as that might be," I thought to myself, "is it really our place to make these kinds of harsh statements against the Holy Father?"
Not long before this I had been a little intrigued by the flak we were getting regarding Robert's previous statements about Jewish "conspiracy theories." Most of these statements had been made prior to my work at CAI. At the time, I just chose to ignore the scuttlebutt because, as I was told, these articles contained comments taken from "questionable" material and had been taken down and retracted due to that questionable material. However, as time went on, CAI’s focus on “the Jews” seemed to return. I was discouraged because our focus had shifted from defending Catholicism to engaging in polemics regarding the modern Popes and the Jews. All the while, James White and others were hard at work making sure Robert (and the rest of us) lost our credibility over these things. So, I decided to leave quietly.
Though there's much more I could say, I want to keep this as succinct as possible. The point I want to make is simply this: I came to the conclusion that this talented man who has done such good work for the Church has become obsessed with the same pseudo-science and bogus scholarship that has caused so much pain and suffering to others. I am saddened that Robert, who is such a meticulous and scrupulous scholar in his defense of Catholicism, has become so reckless and wanton in his offense against the Jewish people and the more recent Popes, especially John Paul II. The bogus scholarship he has so tirelessly refuted from Protestants has become his MO in his treatment of others - especially the Jews, in my opinion.
So, I write this little blurb in the hope that Robert reads the following information prayerfully. Surely Robert would not want to find himself on the wrong end of a gun because of Catholic conspiracy theories. I pray that he sees the danger of these things and recognizes in himself, not only his substantial power to defend Catholicism, but to also cause irreparable harm to others by engaging in the kind of reckless rhetoric that put the Jews (and many Catholics) in Concentration Camps.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Patron Saint of Scholars, pray for us.
Note:Patrick Morris has written a rebuttal to Bob's accusations regarding what occurred shortly before I left CAI as well as Bob's mischaracterization of the reasons for Patrick's contribution to this piece His rebuttal may be viewed here.
Copyright 2006 MIchael Forrest. All rights reserved.