Anti-Semitic Leader Rebuked by Catholic Bishop

A man who has run a virulently anti-Semitic “Catholic” group for 14 years has been told to clean up his act by church officials contacted by the Intelligence Report.

Robert Sungenis, who founded and heads Catholic Apologetics International (CAI), was profiled in the magazine edition released in January, along with other anti-Semitic individuals and institutions involved in the “radical traditionalist Catholic” movement, whose precepts are rejected by the Vatican. The Report later sent a letter to Sungenis’ bishop in Harrisburg, Pa., detailing Sungenis’ anti-Semitic activities. Many other concerned Catholics and organizations have done likewise.

The church responded with alacrity. According to a July 31 essay he posted on CAI’s website entitled “Catholic Apologetics International and its Teachings on the Jews", Sungenis was contacted by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and later met with Rhoades’ vicar general, the Very Rev. William J. King, and the Rev. James Massa, executive director for ecumenical and inter-religious affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Afterward, Sungenis wrote that CAI’s “hard-line positions regarding the Jews” had been “often expressed in an ill-advised manner” and promised to change.

“CAI is in the process of removing all the content on its website concerning the Jews in order to make the initial adjustments in complying with my bishop’s directive,” he wrote. “If in the future we write any new material on the Jews, it will always be with the required due diligence, as if the bishop were present with us.”

Sungenis, based in State Line, Pa., is one of the hardest-line figures of the radical traditionalist Catholic movement, which generally has rejected the Vatican’s efforts to reconcile with Jews and other faiths. Among other things, Sungenis in 2002 wrote a 33,000-word screed attacking the Jews that led to him being thrown off Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic cable station. Elsewhere, he has written of “Jews, Judaism and Israel” are conspiring to make Satan the ruler of the earth.

Despite the rebuke, Sungenis did not back down all the way. He wrote that the “Jews, as a race, are no longer the ‘chosen people’ of God,” and added that they “have been blinded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ by their own doing.” Still, he promised to adopt the “more conciliatory approach” that is today “in vogue.”