Read more here: Once and For All
(Jan 29, 2008)
CFC’S RESPONSE (in blue bold letters)
THE REAL ISSUE
· The crisis was brought about by a simple fact – a leader resigned, then changed his mind, and when he could not get back into position, decided to break away from the community. All the issues (the veering away accusation, the “witch hunt” allegation, the alleged disobedience to the bishops) came after the fact of the resignation that went awry.
· There has been no affirmation of the “veering away” issues, even after almost a year, because CFC under the International Council has never deviated from its Vatican-approved Statutes nor the vision and mission that have shaped the community from the time of its inception.
· The only reason the Catholic Church is being affected is because of FFL’s insistence that CFC has disobeyed the bishops, an issue that is highly debatable and is now in fact a non-issue, given the dialogues that have been conducted between CFC leaders and the bishops concerned.
· This is precisely our argument – that there can only be one CFC. We wholeheartedly agree with our FFL brethren on this point.
· There is actually a precedent in the history of Philippine lay private associations when the Church DID NOT sanction the recognition of two similarly-named groups. When a small group broke away from the Bukas Loob sa Diyos community, the Philippine clergy, specifically Jaime Cardinal Sin and some other bishops, intervened. They contended that they could not recognize two communities bearing the same name and therefore Cardinal Sin came up with a new name for the break-away group – Serviam.
· This is also precisely why the African cardinals and bishops, some bishops in the Middle East and in North America, have decided to recognize only one CFC, the CFC that is headed by Joe Tale and with Gawad Kalinga as one of its programs.
What are the basic problems inherent in the mindset of CFC-GK leaders today?
(5) They do not understand Church authority and hierarchy. Or to put it less kindly, they reject such authority, while professing otherwise.
· As far as understanding Church authority and hierarchy, CFC, for the past 20 years or so, has been following principles and guidelines relating to its relationship with the Church based on what Frank Padilla has been teaching. His book, “Friend of Foe,” outlines these guidelines very clearly.
Ø They disrespected the bishops (Archbp Lagdameo, Bp Reyes, Bp Villegas).
· The IC has repeated, ad nauseam, their contention that the elections pushed through not because of the IC’s disobedience to the bishops, but because of obedience to the Vatican Statutes and to the authority of the higher body – the Elders Assembly.
Ø They kept the bishops’ directives from CFC members, a direct disobedience of Bp Reyes’ directive to disseminate his letters to all CFC members.
· The International Council has never withheld from the members any of the bishops’ directives. They had plenty of help from Frank Padilla’s group in this matter. A case in point: The June 7 letter of the three bishops was hand-carried by Bishop Reyes and given to Maribel Descallar on that same day at the CFC Center . Ms. Descallar distributed the letter to the members of the Elders Assembly even before the International Council members received a copy.
· The internet domain of CFC was handled by someone who eventually joined the Frank Padilla group. Thus, all the bishops’ directives and Frank’s emails were regularly being blasted by this person to the worldwide CFC family.
· The IC had no direct control of this internet network. It would not be until September of 2007 that the IC would realize that the emails and other directives they were sending, such as Council Statements and replies to the break-away group’s emails, were not reaching the members because all the email addresses had been tampered with.
Ø They treated the bishops’ strong recommendations as just recommendations that they were free to accept or reject. This is true enough in the strictest sense, but pastorally, the bishops should have been followed.
· During the August 28 dialogue, Bishop Gabby Reyes acknowledged that their recommendation was simply that – a recommendation that the IC was indeed free to accept or reject. He affirmed that CFC is administratively under the direct supervision of the Vatican and that the CBCP only has recommendatory functions with regard to CFC, and only in cases of doctrine and morals. He stated at that dialogue that, at that point in time, even with the complaints filed by FFL, the CBCP saw no reason to write to the Vatican about these complaints.
· Thus, we agree that in the strictest sense, because they were couched as recommendations, the Elders Assembly (not the IC) were free to accept or reject them. Pastorally, however, the IC was obligated to follow the Vatican-approved statutes with regard to the conduct of the elections.
Ø They kept misrepresenting the bishops’ words and actions, to the point of being formally corrected a few times by Bp Reyes.
· Perhaps the FFL would do well to look into their own actions of blasting Bishop Reyes’ statements all over the world, such actions designed to misrepresent the IC as disobedient and veering away, when most of the bishops have already stated that CFC did not commit such actions.
Ø They did not correct young full-timers who maligned the bishops in their blogs.
· The IC has always stood by its admonition to the entire community to “Be Still” in the face of the attacks and relentless negative emails. It has no control over blogs (which are almost always contributed by anonymous persons). Many Council Statements were in fact issued that cautioned the members against unloving acts and enjoined them to relate to FFL members in Christian love.
Ø They profess to submit to and follow the bishops but they do not do so. A case in point is Bp Reyes repeatedly saying that there can be two CFCs, but they have rejected this and even now are threatening to take legal action against CFC-FFL on the use of the name.
· The CFC Statutes, which have been approved by the Vatican , serve as the International Council’s sacred guide in steering the community, particularly in times of confusion and disagreements. On the question of whether there can be two CFCs, the Statutes are clear: there is only one CFC and there can only be ONE CFC Worldwide. The following articles of the Statutes are pertinent to this issue:
· “ 7.21 Unity. COUPLES FOR CHRIST throughout the world is one body, one family, one army. It is to have one vision and one mission. It is one united work of the Holy Spirit. It is to live out one culture, the Christian culture that transcends national, racial and social differences.
· Interdependence. The worldwide CFC family is a global network of CFC groups in different countries, all acting within the framework of the overall CFC vision and mission.”
· Our dear Bishops recognize the statutes. Cardinal Rylko upholds this provision of having just one CFC in the world, as stated in his letter to the International Council dated April 3, 2008 wherein he clarified that no other association may use the name CFC.
· When CFC defends its use of the name, it is only following guidelines already enshrined in the Statutes.
Ø They make promises to the bishops but do not carry them out. After over five months, they still have not cut their partnerships with pharmaceuticals producing or marketing contraceptives, as they promised they would.
· The IC has complied with the Vatican’s (and some Philippine bishops’) directive with regard to these partnerships. The IC has never sanctioned any partnership for the distribution of contraceptives or condoms in the sites, contrary to rumors that were floated.
(6) They do not understand the basic mission of the Church, which is to proclaim Christ.
Ø Their basic thrust is GK, with the goal of GK777. But in the work of GK, Christ has been marginalized or totally cut out. The work ought not to be the social without the spiritual, extolling heroism but not holiness, building a nation but not the kingdom of God . In other words, GK has become charity without Christ.
Ø They are missing out on the great potential of GK to become an evangelistic tool, as God intended for it to be.
· We are sorry if our FFL brethren do not understand the vision and mission of CFC and its application to GK. We would like to remind them that the basic mission of CFC for at least the past ten years has been “bringing glad tidings to the poor” which was further refined to “Building the Church of the Home and Building the Church of the Poor,” and GK is the concrete expression of this mission.
· CFC is committed to following the Vatican Statutes that call for it to espouse Total Christian Liberation. The work with the poor has always stressed that transformation of their physical surroundings must be preceded by renewal of hearts. This is the basic reason why CFC members immerse themselves in the GK sites, not simply to build homes but to ensure that Christian values formation is carried out and Christian living is taught.
· GK caretaker teams are committed to GK because of their love of God and love of country.
· CFC believes that GK is not simply about nation building. It goes deeper than this because it is anchored on the very mission of Christ himself, the mission that he proclaimed when He began His public ministry: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind, to free the oppressed and announce the Lord’s year of mercy.” Luke 4:18-19
· CFC has indeed recognized GK’s great potential for evangelization. Before homes are even built, caretaker teams already conduct values formation programs, culminating in the Christian Life Program. Statistics show that 85% of beneficiaries in GK sites are now members of CFC. The increase in CFC membership can be directly attributed to the evangelization efforts in GK sites.
(7) A lot of secular, humanist thinking has come in.
Ø The right-hand man of Tony Meloto is Boy Montelibano, who is a New Ager and an admirer of Freemasonry. He has been tasked to form the minds of the young GK workers.
Ø Joe Tale has resorted to legalities a number of times, to the frustration of Bp Reyes, and such legalism has actually been the cause of the split.
Ø Other IC members are very corporate and secular in their approaches.
Ø Tony Meloto of course is a marketing man. This is precisely why he has marginalized Christ and CFC in GK, to appeal to an even greater number of partners and funders who will only give to non-sectarian causes.
Ø Many are convinced that there is a political agenda, and GK is merely a tool to further the ambitions of some.
· The allegations in the above items are spiteful and totally unchristian. As Christians, we are told never to judge anyone and it is painful to see brothers speaking ill of others. Many of us are not proud of the lives we led before we began to lead renewed lives in the Catholic faith and we are taught to forgive ourselves as well as others for our past deeds. What is important are the lives we are called to lead after renewal.
· Joe Tale may be a lawyer but, unknown to many, he has in fact refused, to date, to use legal means to address the attacks. The cause of the split has never been legalism but simply the consequence of failed leadership.
· Tony Meloto has done more for the poor than those who consistently attack him. His zeal for the mission is beyond doubt. It is more than can be said for those who attack GK. Tony has also repeatedly announced that he will never run for public office; the IC has no reason to doubt or to question anyone’s motives.
(8) IC elders have lost their integrity and pastoral sense.
Ø They conducted a witch hunt against Lachie Agana, using affidavits and a lawyer in the process, not informing Lachie what the charges were, and only to conclude, after three months, that there was no serious wrongdoing but there were only procedural lapses (even these Lachie disputes).
· This is totally false. There was no witch hunt because those who filed complaints voluntarily came forward with their evidences. The IC in fact tried to keep a lid on all of these but, in the interest of good order, was constrained to hear out the complaints.
· It is untrue that Lachie was not informed about the charges. Lachie was invited to a face-to-face meeting with his accusers on May 1, 2007 at the Club Filipino. In order not to unduly intimidate him, he was not asked to face all five accusers but to discuss the issues against him one-to-one. The conclusion of “procedural lapses” was the only Christian solution at that time. The IC felt that coming out publicly with the affidavits at that particular time would further exacerbate an already festering situation. They were protecting the community.
· There were two letters given to Lachie referring to the investigations. The public letter indeed used the word “procedural lapses.” The other letter was a private one, stating both procedural and pastoral issues. The IC did not feel that this particular letter should be broadcast because they wanted to maintain confidentiality. It would be Lachie’s decision whether he would want to make this letter public.
Ø They spread the false accusation that two top leaders were having an affair, and continued to spread this, even in the face of outright denials and having no proofs at all.
· This particular rumor began in Frank’s household many years back but was swept under the rug precisely because it was then only a rumor. But the rumor persisted over the years. Frank was supposed to investigate this but nothing came out of it.
· It has not been the IC that has been spreading this rumor. They have in fact refused to accept testimonies dealing with this rumor. Based on video records and on eyewitness accounts, Gerry Padilla herself was instrumental in spreading this when she mentioned this rumor during their visit to Europe and to the United States in 2007, scandalizing those who were not previously aware of such a rumor.
Ø They maligned those who had issues with them, especially Frank Padilla, about whom they spread many outright falsehoods.
· It is strange that it is the IC that is being accused of all these things when there is no shred of proof that they were the ones responsible for “the false accusation” or for maligning Frank Padilla. The accusations were all outlined in the affidavits and are backed up by documentary evidence. The IC hopes they will never see the light of day because the community would be severely affected by such a public disclosure.
Ø They undermined the win-win agreement about the elections that was approved by the bishops, which if carried out would have prevented the split.
· The so-called win-win agreement was subject to the approval of the Elders Assembly. But the IC was committed to exhaust all means to explain and present this proposal to the elders. There was a concerted campaign, not just by the IC, but by FFL and Bishop Reyes, to try to “sell” the proposal to the assembly but the Elders Assembly chose to abide by the Vatican-approved Statutes.
· It is highly debatable whether this would have “prevented the split” or to be more precise, prevented the formation of a new association by a minority of leaders who did not recognize the IC’s leadership. The minutes of the Easter Group meeting of June 3, weeks before the elections, show that there were premeditated moves toward the break away. The fact that FFL filed incorporation papers on August 2, again way before the scheduled dialogues of August 14 and August 28, are also indicators of this premeditation.
Ø Joe Tale and Rouquel Ponte promised that they would not run for the IC if the win-win agreement was not carried out, but they did run.
Ø Joe Tale told Frank two days before the elections that he would not run for the IC, but on election day reneged on this and did run.
· Indeed, Joe and Rouquel agreed with (not promised) Frank that they will not run. They even went one step further – during their private dialogue before the election, they agreed to resign as IC members. But the other two members of the IC, together with other elders, disagreed. They felt that resigning would upset the good order of leadership since there would only be two IC members left to govern. Four IC members were needed since this was the prescribed quorum. The leaders pointed out to Joe and Rouquel that it would be quite arrogant for them to declare not to run since they didn’t even know if the election would push through.
Joe and Rouquel told Frank of this decision even prior to the plebiscite and election. It was not a decision done after the Elders Assembly decided to go ahead with the election. as insinuated by the allegation. The two brothers simply followed and respected the process prescribed under the International Statutes.
· Frank was nominated by a member of the Board of Elders. He confronted and accused two IC leaders of not nominating him for the Council because he felt his nomination should have come from the IC. This was clear proof that, despite protestations to the contrary, he was indeed interested in getting back into the Council. Of 30 nominees coming from the Board of Elders, Frank came out number 29 and was therefore not included in the short list of 5 names.
Ø They fired from their services brethren who had issues with them and who were working for restoration. They did most of this through email, or copy furnished by email, or just by text.
Ø They have not paid the retirement benefits of those who served faithfully so long, and even now are trying to find ways and means to avoid payment.
· No one was fired, not even Frank Padilla, who resigned from fulltime work way back in October 1, 2006. It would only be in July 2007, after the elections, that he would be asked to resign as International Missions Director, a position he continued to hold in spite of the fact that this is properly a function given to a Council member. He ceased to be a Council member when he resigned on February 13, 2007. The IC in fact was lenient with him on this point.
· In fact, many FFL members remained employed at CFC even though it was clear that they were already in clear violation of even the simplest tenets of loyalty and commitment, precisely because they were in fact working for the Restoration Movement. This was a clear case of conflict of interest. One case in point is Mimi David, whose husband Oland is one of the incorporators of FFL. Mimi held on to her job, resigning only on January 15, 2008. Frank’s son, Xavy Padilla and his wife Des were also allowed to stay and given the freedom to choose when they would resign.
· CFC would have had every reason to indeed fire everyone whose loyalties were questionable and if it were a private corporation, there would have been no complaints. But in fact, CFC stood silent while FFL people were getting paid out of CFC funds when they were actually working for FFL’s interests.
· CFC could have invoked Art. 3.3 of the Vatican-approved Statutes and terminated their membership with CFC, and consequently their employment at the Home Office, but the International Council wanted to give them the opportunity to exercise the more honorable option of resigning. Art. 3.3 states: “ Membership may be terminated by the leadership for any of the following reasons:
1. Serious unrepented wrongdoing
2. Gross unfaithfulness to the covenant of CFC
3. Public opposition to CFC teachings and culture, as well as official Church teachings
4. Ongoing disruption of good order in the community
5. Any other act that would seriously undermine the life and mission of CFC.”
· The only one who got a text message was Nonong Contreras and this was because Lito Tayag assumed, because of their long friendship, that this would be taken in the proper context. Lito has apologized to Nonong for this particular lapse and Nonong has accepted the apology.
· The retirement benefits should have been funded by a retirement fund that was started during the watch of Frank Padilla. When he resigned, the IC discovered that the retirement fund was depleted, already diverted to other expenses. How could the IC pay retirement benefits when there was no fund available? The IC has never said they will not pay retirement; they have repeatedly stressed that they will do so when there are funds for it. The FFL has been clamoring that they be paid out of the funds generated to pay out the almost P20 million loans incurred during the period 2000-2006. But these funds were donated by the membership, in response to a worldwide campaign to eradicate the loans, all of which were incurred under Frank’s leadership. It would have been unfair for the members’ money, which was intended to pay for the bank loans, to be diverted to pay retirement benefits of those who incurred the loans in the first place.
Ø They refuse to recognize CFC-FFL even when many bishops have already done so.
· The IC is perfectly willing to recognize FFL but not CFC-FFL because their use of the CFC name is divisive, confusing and, in many cases, deliberately misleading. From the start, the IC has stated that the harvest is plentiful and many workers are needed. It is the unfair misappropriation of the CFC name that they object to. There are some bishops who have recognized FFL, but not many.
The effects of all these are:
(4) CFC members, especially the impressionable young, will continue to be misled.
(5) CFC-GK itself will do a lot of good for the poor but will not be building the kingdom of God , and may in fact be undermining it.
Ø Tony’s goal is for the Philippines to become First World . We all know what that means in terms of loss of morality and the move to secularism and even hedonism.
(6) Those that God would have planned for CFC to evangelize and pastorally care for will not be evangelized and pastorally supported.
· It can also be said that the effects of the continued attacks of FFL against the CFC and specifically against the IC, the continued unauthorized use of the CFC name, the continued deliberate misrepresentation of their assemblies as CFC assemblies, will mislead the impressionable young.
· To say that to become First World is to lose morality and to be secular and hedonist is too simplistic and does not take into consideration the Philippines ’ inherent Christian Catholic values. Also, it is quite clear that Tony Meloto refers to being First World only in terms of economic benefits.
· GK is indeed doing a lot of good for the poor. The fact that not only homes have been built, but that lives have been transformed, is ample evidence of the fact that GK is also building the kingdom of God . The statistics bear this out. The recent increases in CFC membership (meaning those who graduate from the Christian Life Program) come mainly from GK sites. Eighty-five percent of GK beneficiaries are now members of CFC.
· The attacks on GK are rooted on a desire to attack Tony Meloto. Tony has voluntarily resigned from any position. It is also conveniently forgotten that GK is not run by only one man but by the GK Board. Frank was chairman of this Board when he was CFC Executive Director and was cognizant and approved many of the policies that are now being attacked.
· It should also be emphasized that GK is only one of the many facets of CFC’s evangelistic and mission work. The work of evangelization has never been sidelined because of any undue stress on GK and on “nation-building.”
ALL THESE ADVERSELY AFFECT THE VERY LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH.
(4) We will have a whole generation of heroes but not disciples of Christ.
(5) We will have the poor liberated from material need but not saved from sin.
(6) The CFC that God has raised will not be doing its work according to His will and plan.
· The IC contends that it has never deviated from its life and mission, and that these remain firmly rooted in the Catholic faith. The poor are being helped not just materially but also spiritually. God has indeed raised CFC and as such, He will not abandon it but rather continue to guide it to do its work according to His will and plan.
CFC under the International Council has moved on in its vision and mission. We urge our brethren in FFL to do the same. We believe we can both pursue our shared mission of spreading the gospel by simply pursuing our unique ways of evangelization.
It is now quite clear that there are indeed two associations – Couples for Christ and the Foundation for Family and Life. FFL has announced that they have their own charism, their own structure and organization, their own teaching track, their own work with the poor. Because we share the same goal – of spreading God’s Word to all the corners of the world – we are truly one in mission alongside with the other Christian groups. We reach out to you in love and respect and wish you all the best in the path you have chosen.
May the Lord continue to bless you.
THE UGNAYAN MULTIMEDIA CENTER
Download the PDF document HERE.