The Mr. X Saga - Conclusion?
Well, CAI (Catholic Apologetics International - Robert Sungenis) has now also offered their apology of the events that led to the posting of information from "Mr. X." Robert has given permission for that apology to be posted here:
CAI Apology: The Case of Michael Roberts
In the last week, a series of regrettable events have transpired which resulted from CAI's interaction with an individual named "Michael Roberts."
My first contact with Mr. Roberts occurred a few months ago. While I was on the Internet, Mr. Roberts sent me an Instant Message in which he claimed that he wanted to help CAI expose "fraudulent" material contained in David King's and William Webster's three volume work on Sola Scriptura. I asked Mr. Roberts what precisely King and Webster did that was so alarming. He claimed that they had seriously mishandled quotes from the Fathers, re-translating certain portions and leaving out other portions that were not favorable to their position.
Since I had had this same experience with certain Protestant apologists (many of whom I name and critique in my book Not By Scripture Alone, including William Webster), and moreover, since I had already done some critical work on King and Webster's books and found many patristic quotes that were indeed seriously compromised (my work on this issue will be soon forthcoming), I thought it plausible that Mr. Roberts was privy to some worthwhile information. I thus told him to do his research and get back to me. I discussed the IM message from Mr. Roberts with CAI staff apologist, Jacob Michael, and thus we were both waiting for Mr. Roberts to contact us again, but he never did.
Recently, while I was away debating a Protestant apologist, Mr. Michael wrote and posted an article for the purpose of rebutting a fictional dialogue created by this same Protestant apologist. In the lengthy rebuttal, Mr. Michael offhandly referred to two relatively minor claims that Mr. Roberts had previously made to me regarding his relationship and work with Mr. King (e.g., (a) that Mr. Roberts, who purported to do research for Mr. King, was converting to Catholicism; and (b) that Mr. King didn't know Latin in order to do any translating). It appears that the former was false, the latter was true. However, rather than interacting with the main points of Mr. Michael's rebuttal, this same Protestant apologist angrily focused completely on a tangential aspect of Mr. Michael's offhand comment, in particular, that Mr. King did all of his own research and never had any help with it at all. Since using research assistants is a common practice among writers, Mr. Michael was somewhat shocked and intimidated by the intensity and focus of this Protestant apologist's complaint. Consequently, he rushed to contact Mr. Roberts for further corroboration. Since Mr. Michael remembered his screen name from his initial IM correspondence with me a few months ago, he was able to contact him.
Mr. Michael completed an interview with Mr. Roberts on 4-21-03. In the interview, Mr. Roberts embellished his accusations and allegations. However, since I had already confirmed to my own satisfaction Mr. Roberts' initial information about King's and Webster's mishandling of patristic quotes, when Mr. Michael ran the interview by me, I assumed that Mr. Roberts was a credible witness. Although we still had some questions about him and his information, CAI accepted his additional claims enough to post them on the website in Mr. Michael�s interview article.
As soon as the interview was posted, we received a couple of strenuous objections from individuals other than Webster and King. To address their objections, CAI did a further investigation into the additional claims of Mr. Roberts. We made calls to various phone numbers that Mr. Roberts gave us in the interview. The numbers and addresses were in New York. We reached both numbers, but no one by the name of Michael Roberts could be located, or at the least, admitted to being Michael Roberts.
Hence, CAI cannot substantiate any of the additional claims made by Mr. Roberts, and thus I am forced to judge them as false, and am happy to do so.
In particular, in the interview of 4-21-03, Michael Roberts claimed that he paid huge sums of money to Mr. King and Mr. Webster towards publication of their three volume work on Sola Scriptura. He also claimed that he was their "research assistant," and was involved in a multi-line conversation with Webster, Andy Anderson, Richard Pierce and Colin Smith, discussing the material that was going to be published in the book. In the alleged conference call, Mr. Roberts said that William Webster asserted he was going to purposely alter quotes from the Fathers to his own advantage.
Although it is clear that Mr. Roberts has indeed interacted with these individuals in the past, Mr. Roberts has refused to supply proof of his alleged donations or proof of the alleged "conference call." As such, we must consider these claims false, and thus we owe Mr. King, Mr. Webster, Mr. Pierce, and Mr. Smith an apology, and I am forthwith making that apology to them now on behalf of all of us at CAI.
Why Mr. Roberts, or someone posing as Mr. Roberts, would make up these particular false allegations, we do not know. He seems to get some macabre satisfaction out of pitting one side against the other. Whatever his (or the person posing as Michael Roberts) motives, he has caused undue harm to both the above-named individuals and CAI. If anyone knows how to contact Michael Roberts, or where he lives, please forward that information to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact the proper legal authorities to take care of the matter.
We at CAI fully acknowledge our error. In fact, as Mr. Michael has already indicated to the parties involved, he has chosen to take a hiatus from apologetics, since he feels very badly for what his comments in the original articles have spawned. As for the interview itself, unfortunately, there was a mishap in our protocol and thus it did not pass through our new personnel director before it was posted - a volunteer I had recently asked to edit articles with respect to these kinds of issues.
Finally, we want all concerned to know that we do take these things very seriously. Without sufficient corroboration, any information, especially in these kinds of sensitive areas, is as good as false. We have all learned our lesson, and we hope that Mr. King and Mr. Webster, as well as Mr. Pierce and Mr. Smith, will accept our sincere apology.
In God's Grace,
Catholic Apologetics International
Well, that about settles it, or it would seem to. Michael Roberts, AKA "RW^", AKA "Mr. X" has been exposed - let us hope he does not attempt to perpetrate this on anyone else. How does one who claims to be a "Christian" turn around and deceive people like this?
Let's hope we're closing the book on this one.