Updates on the Pharisees, GK and CFC
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-05-06
Lipa Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles responded in writing to my previous columns denouncing the Pharisees who continue to pester Gawad Kalinga (GK) and the Couples for Christ (CFC).

Archbishop Arguelles’ letter, dated April 29, sought to explain the circumstances behind Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko’s letter which had put CFC and GK in bad light after a media report gave a misleading impression that the letter was hitting both organizations.

Archbishop Arguelles’s letter stated:

“On March 03, 2008, I was with Mr. Joe Tale and Mr. Roquel Ponte, two of the seven members of the International Council of the CFC, to meet Cardinal Rylko in his office in Rome. In fact, I admit that I facilitated that encounter. I was berated for doing so by some sectors opposing the present CFC International Council. But I was in Rome for another more important reason.

“Cardinal Rylko did not at all chide the CFC. He regretted the division in the CFC. He asked for prayers and urged efforts to heal the wounds of disunity. The Holy See insists on reconciliation especially because the CFC is the only Lay Association of the Faithful originating in Asia and recognized by the Vatican. He suggested that it would be good that the present International Council will humbly declare:

1. That CFC would no longer accept donations from or enter into partnerships with individuals or groups perceived as promoting anti-Catholic principles (the Holy See is aware that these partnerships were entered into long before the split in the CFC);

b That CFC would publicly acknowledge the authority of the local Church (the so-called ‘disobedience’ to the bishops was a criticism of the CFC leadership long before the June 2007 elections of the new International Council which three bishops advised against);

b That the excellent ‘charitable or social works’ should remain as a result of the recognition of the primacy of love and service of God and not independent of it (GK is an essential part of and the necessary result of the evangelization and spiritual commitment of CFC);

4. That the CFC by the public declaration of the three above-mentioned issues would strive to bring the unity of the leaders;

5. That the crisis of the leadership in the Philippines should hopefully be kept as a Philippine problem so as not to disrupt the successful evangelization efforts in other countries.”

I give Archbishop Arguelles and Cardinal Rylko the benefit of the doubt that they mean well and seek to reunite CFC and the CFC-FLL breakaway faction of Frank Padilla whose members claim to be workers in the Lord’s vineyard.

The Archbishop’s letter failed to address though two issues that need to be clarified. One is about the supposed ‘disobedience’ of the CFC International Council when it held elections in 2007. Bishops Gabby Reyes, Soc Villegas and Angel Lagdameo had requested a postponement of the election date although the majority of the other Bishops did not oppose it.

The second issue is about Cardinal Rylko’s request for CFC to make a public apology for the ‘scandal’ the rift had caused. Archbishop Arguelles’s letter downplayed the suggested apology in Cardinal Rylko’s March 11, 2008 letter to CFC’s Joe Tale. Cardinal Rylko’s letter can be read on the ABS-CBN/Newsbreak website.

Anyone who reads the letter of Cardinal Rylko can easily deduce that he had fallen for the position of the Pharisees, a position that was apparently espoused and presented by Bishop Reyes who heads the National Council of the Laity here. In the CFC-FLL blog, Frank Padilla admitted having briefed Cardinal Rylko in 2007.

Bishops Gabby Reyes, Soc Villegas and Angel Lagdameo should not have asked the CFC to postpone its International Council elections for two very good reasons.

One, CFC is a lay organization and a lay initiative. Church interference in its organizational policy and procedures is therefore out of the question, especially when this is fueled by sour-graping Pharisees who don’t mind subverting the will of the majority of CFC.

Two, the elections followed CFC statute and it is neither right nor fair to compel CFC to set aside a statute just because Bishop Gabby Reyes favors the side of the Pharisees.

I was told that Bishop Gabby Reyes met with the CFC International Council last Wednesday afternoon and that he was fuming mad over the negative publicity he attracted. During the meeting, Bishop Reyes reportedly declared that recognition of CFC in the Philippines is on a diocese-to-diocese basis. However, this assertion runs counter to the pronouncements of the CBCP and the Vatican.

CFC and GK have a long history of being overly loyal and subservient to the Church leaders. CFC leaders will unquestioningly apologize even for things they are not guilty of — as a Christian gesture of turning the other cheek.

It’s not un-Christian however to refuse to turn the other cheek — not when it involves repercussions that will badly affect others. It is following in the footsteps of Christ to denounce Pharisees.

Misguided religious leaders can do more harm to a nation than a succession of bad temporal leaders.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo