How the modern Pharisees erode the Church
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-06-01
Envy and crab mentality — the real causes of the breakaway in the Catholic lay organization Couples for Christ (CfC) — do not deserve the public attention and publicity it had reaped. Envy and crab mentality are not welcome news to us Filipinos.

However, the official issue used for the CfC breakaway merits national attention as it demonstrates the very reason why the greatest shame of the Catholic Church is to have a country like the Philippines stand out as the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia.

No religion can be proud of a country where the 3 percent who own over 85% of the national wealth is unaffected by the misery of the poor around them. Does it not shame the Catholic Church that those who benefited from a Catholic education in this country have become the biggest plunderers?

The official reason that the modern Pharisees raised against Gawad Kalinga (GK), the CfC outreach movement, is that GK veered from its “evangelization” mission and engaged into too much social action.

From Pope John XXIII to the present Pope Benedict XVI, there has been a consistent push for social action — for Catholics to reach out to the poor, the least of our brethren. Surprisingly, a local Bishop and a Vatican Cardinal echoed the line of the modern Pharisees.

But how are Filipinos reacting to the modern Pharisees? Let’s read portions of emails of those who reacted to this issue.

From Luisa Cubelo:

“For centuries the Church has not done much to uplift the poor in the Philippines when everyone knows how rich our Catholic Church is. I’m a Catholic but ever since I learned about GK I’ve lessened my Church alms and instead opted to give the rest of my tithing direct to some charitable organizations, not necessarily initiated by our Church.

Another reason why I’m sometimes adamant to fully give my tithing to our Church is because I find some of our priests even live luxurious lives.

We should not wonder why there have been lots of Catholics leaving the Church since some of them do not see eye to eye with our Church leaders. They are our modern Pharisees indeed!”

From Roman Ronquillo of Cebu City:

“The GK, in partnership with CfC, is the envy of the NGO organizations for its work in providing housing to the marginalized sector of society. What is noteworthy is the fact that they have not “abandoned” the spiritual dimension, as accused, because they do conduct values formation seminars anchored on Christian fundamentals for applicants who desire to be qualified for the housing project. And continue to monitor the new and proud house owners’ spiritual growth. Millions contribute to the program precisely because they can see the fruits of their successful endeavors. They are recognized worldwide.

And now comes the Padilla/Reyes axis, dragging the Vatican in their efforts to minimize, if not discredit, the achievements of GK/CfC. The question to ask is ‑ what have they accomplished aside from denigrating the Christian efforts of GK/CfC? How do their superficial spiritual exhortations compare with the project of precisely helping the less privileged?

They are the true Pharisees of our times… I pray the Catholic hierarchy is not be deceived by a selfish Bishop and a disgruntled ex leader who lost the elections, who only envy the GK/CfC because they have succeeded in giving meaning to the word Love as mandated by our Savior.”

From Xavier Yap:

“It’s really sad that this has to happen to CfC and GK.

While these “elders” (whom many used to look up to) continue to argue about their “truth,” many poor Filipinos are suffering and live under sub-human conditions. If only the destitute also have the same luxury of just talking about it. How about trading places for just a week?

Was Blessed Teresa of Calcutta selective of whom to GIVE CARE? Did she have to ensure that funds coming in were ‘clean’ money?”

From Rosalie R. Montenegro:

“When I was in Muntinlupa to inaugurate the GK houses we had donated, everything started and ended with a prayer. One kid said that she was happy because her parents had started to read the Bible. Whereas before, when they would only quarrel, curse and drink — now they would read the Bible in the morning and in the evening. It was a blessing for them. There wasn’t a dry eye in that congregation after her sharing.”

To their credit, those who voiced their reactions to the CfC issue did recognize the essence of true Christianity in the work of GK. Again, to their credit, they also saw through the hypocrisy of modern Pharisees.

It is the height of Pharisee insolence and arrogance to now posture as the defenders of the Church when in truth their schemes are precisely undermining what the Church is trying to promote — social action and caring for the least.

The Catholic Church, it must be clarified, is not at fault here. It is the few who collaborated, wittingly or unwittingly, to patronize the modern Pharisees. To the credit of most of the Bishops, they stood by the CfC and GK and thus Frank Padilla was not able to purloin the CfC name.

To begin with, CfC was the creation of the Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP) and for those who want to know the background, log on to the website and read the narration posted there by Vic Gutierrez of LNP.

You won’t see anything un-Christian with the LNP, CfC and GK. But just as he broke away from LNP, Frank Padilla also broke away from CfC and GK. Could it be that it is Frank Padilla who is spiritually broke and needs fixing?

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