Splitting 'Couples'
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-09-04
The phenomenal outreach ministry of the Couples for Christ (CFC)-Gawad Kalinga (GK) — is close to your Chair Wrecker's heart. While I was still the chairman and member of the Council on Philippine Affairs (COPA), we awarded the second edition of the COPA Awards in 2002 to GK and Focolare's Bukas Palad.

COPA believed that if we were to rebuild our country, we must rebuild every community. The community development programs implemented by the GK and Focolare's Bukas Palad addressed the heart of the problems of people ensnared by poverty. Both models practiced Christ’s commandment of "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me."

Frank Padilla and Tony Meloto received the COPA Award for GK while Irene M. de los Angeles received the other award for Focolare.

I was among those who were deeply disappointed to learn about the split in CFC but the announcement did not come as a surprise to me. I was privy to developments that warned of danger that all was not well in CFC as early as three years ago.

During a big GK event held at the Fort about three years ago, COPA Secretary General Pastor T. Saycon already noted cynical remarks and certain wariness directed at Tony Meloto from someone very close to Frank Padilla.

Pastor T. Saycon, like me, is a big GK supporter and has signed a memorandum of agreement for the development of a parcel of the Saycon property in Quezon City for a GK Village.

Having studied the issues hurled against Tony Meloto in the last seven months, I can only conclude that they are baseless. The Bishops who reaffirmed the CBCP and Vatican recognition of the CFC last week, in effect, repudiates the splinter group of Frank Padilla and indicates the lack of merit of the issues raised against GK and Tony Meloto.

To those of us occupying the spectator seat to the turn of events in CFC, it would seem like we are witnessing a classic case of human frailty masking itself beneath the lofty-sounding spiritual issues raised by Frank Padilla’s splinter group. We see this marketing phenomenon when consumers cite a secondary reason for the purchase of a product rather than disclose a more embarrassing, socially unacceptable primary reason.

Marketing tests reveal that a good number of Mercedes Benz owners bought the pricey car to project prestige and status. However, the same buyers will not admit this. Instead they will say that they bought the Benz because they want a good vehicle for safe conveyance.

The efforts of the Padilla splinter group only gained ground after two Bishops — Bishop Gabby Reyes and Bishop Soc Villegas — pandered to the group’s agenda. However, the rest of the Bishops realized that they had to respect the independence of CFC to operate within its organizational processes and refrained from intervening.

Their decision to uphold the CBCP and Vatican recognition of CFC in effect formalized the split. This left Padilla’s group with no other recourse but to form their new group.

It must be noted that Padilla has also made a similar move when he bolted from the Ligaya ng Panginoon (Joy of the Lord) and formed CFC.

If we are to remove the aspect of human frailty (that this rift did not emanate from a clash of personalities) from the equation, still the posture of Padilla’s group is subject to serious issues. What gives them the right to presume that they are holier than the other group and are more faithful to Catholic teachings?

All these seven months, Tony Meloto has not answered any of their baseless tirades which fellow STAR columnist Boo Chanco detailed in his column last Friday. All the time I’ve seen Tony Meloto in action, this man never took any personal credit but would always say that: "This honor given to GK is in recognition of the magnanimity and heroism of every Filipino."

Is it not enough that Tony Meloto serves the least of his brethren as Christ asked all of us to do without having to suffer this "holier than thou" attitude? Does this attitude not remind us of the very Pharisees who conspired to indict and crucify Christ?

Blessed Mother Teresa also faced a similar crossroad that saw her leave the Order of the Sisters of Loreto and establish the Missionaries of Charity. She felt she did not worship God enough in the convent and wanted to serve the least.

Christ said: "Not everyone who says Lord, Lord loves me but he who follows my commandment." Christ's conflict with the Pharisees is all about the hypocritical lip service to God versus the genuine service to the least of one’s brethren as the best way to worship God.

GK is too important to the Filipino for us to allow it to be derailed by modern-day Pharisees. If there is anything worse than a Pharisee, it is a Pharisee that is infected with parochial Filipino crab mentality.

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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