Hey Folks! There's a Baby in that Bathwater!
Recently Robert Sungenis posted a response to a document from a committee from the USCCB called Reflections on Covenant and Mission (RCM). Well, had his response stopped there we probably wouldn't be visiting this page today. Since you are reading this page now, you might be aware that he also cited some information from the Talmud and other sources that has created quite a stir. My purpose in writing this article is not to "defend" Robert, rather to question some of the other responses to Robert's article (which at the time of me writing this has been pulled entirely from CAI's website). The information Robert posted was rather critical of Jews, their Talmud and others of Jewish ancestry. The biggest problem was due to the fact that some of the information cited came from anti-semitic sources, one even being a piece of 1940's Nazi propaganda. Robert has since apologized for his oversight and has pulled the article to be revised.
Robert and his webmaster, Jacob Michael, have not apologized for the content and have claimed the content was true. Some have stated that this then is no apology at all and are demanding that he apologize for allowing the information to be posted, period. This has degenerated the discussion from "what" he has presented to "why" he presented it and character assassinations.
A tactic in debate is to destroy the credibility of one's opponent, thus (the thought is) you destroy the credibility of their argumentation. Such tactics, though effective in appearance, are truly invalid arguments. Once you go from discussing the points of an argument to discussing the person who raised the points, you've moved into the realm of "ad hominem" (Latin for "against the person"). For those not paying close attention, or for those who are already convinced, the argumentation seems quite good - but to the objective reader/judge - attacks on the person are seen for what they are, invalid argumentation. So, you attack the person and hope no one is watching when suddenly the discussion is not about "the argument" anymore, but it's about "the person." This appears to be exactly the motives behind some of the responses (and blogs) that have been attacking Robert Sungenis. If one looks at these responses objectively, one will see something lacking. Though the responses are rather verbose and emotionally charged, what they lack is substance. What I have seen, thus far, is a lot of attacks on Robert's motives and the slinging of terms like "anti-semitic." What I have not seen is evidence disproving what Robert said.
This brings me to one of the reasons I am writing this response. I do not write this in "support" of Robert Sungenis, but in support of "real debate" on the subject(s) at hand. It's one thing to blast away at someone's motives; it's quite another to actually disprove his arguments. I, for one, would like to see a real debate on the issues here.
We also see some calling for a boycott of CAI, and not only currently produced products and information from CAI, but even all past documents, books, etc. One has to ask, why is this boycott being called for? Based on emotionally driven claims? Again, I would like to see some real evidence introduced into this discussion. Yes, the evidence was real that he quoted anti-semitic material - but was the information false? That is what Robert's detractors should be out to prove.
Another reason for this article is to express my concern over "fellow Catholics" attacking each other, in the name of Catholicism, over issues of personal motives. The motives here are really immaterial, what needs to come out is the truth. Those who yearn to prove Catholic disunity are having a hay-day with the way "Catholics" are bickering at each other over this issue. The sad part is that the strongest voices we have seen, thus far, are those preaching against Robert's motives - and not what was actually said.
In my initial response, I attempted to list several other sites that also pointed out some of the horrendous statements in the Talmud. I take my hat off to John Betts, one of Robert's detractors, for pointing out to me that those sites were largely anti-semitic and/or white supremacist in nature. He speculated that I likely did a quick internet search to find those sites, and truthfully, that is what I did. Upon closer examination of those sites, I have to concur with John and have pulled that response entirely. I also must add, that the inclusion of those sites did more to detract from the main points I was trying to make, which I hope is being made more clear in this article. Those points are:
I'll close with that. Below is the remainder of my initial article: