A WOUND IN THE CHURCH

July 5, 2012

On June 28, 2012, the International Council (“IC”) of Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation Inc. (“CFC Global”) issued a public statement on the status of the legal case between CFC Global and our community. The statement unfortunately misinforms and distorts the facts, even as it prematurely proclaims CFC Global’s “victory” in said case. In defense of truth and fairness, we must correct the misinformation and distortion.

At the outset, it is not true that our community started the legal case. We did not sue CFC Global. All we did was simply to file an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to revive Couples for Christ Foundation, Inc. (“CFCFI”), the original CFC corporation registered in 1984. The SEC granted our application and reinstated the corporate license of CFCFI, which has since operated under the name Couples for Christ for Family and Life (“CFC-FFL”).

In 2008, CFC Global, led by its International Council (“IC”), filed a case with the Court of Appeals against the SEC and CFCFI, seeking to nullify the revival of CFCFI. From this, it is obvious that it was CFC Global that sued us and not the other way around. They could have just left us alone and rejoiced that one more community is helping in the enormous task of proclaiming the gospel to the world, just as we celebrate the emergence of any group committed to the work of evangelization.

It is true that the Court of Appeals issued recently a decision favoring CFC Global, setting aside the SEC’s revival of CFCFI and remanding the case back to the SEC for further proceedings. The Court, however, clarified that the decision did not touch on the issue of which of the two communities has the better right over the name “Couples for Christ.” We have appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which will have the final say on the matter.

We have earnestly tried to make peace with our brethren in CFC Global, even asking the Court of Appeals to mediate between us. The Court granted our request and scheduled a mediation meeting on May 9, 2012. Regrettably, CFC Global rejected the mediation and opted for the case to continue, contrary to what they had conveyed in their June 28 statement. Their preference for an all-out litigation is fueled by a belief that they own the name “Couples for Christ” to the exclusion of others. Their exclusivist stance ironically ignores the crucial fact that it was CFCFI that had given them permission to use the name “Couples for Christ.” In other words, CFC Global could not have registered its present name had CFCFI not given permission, because the name was already owned and used by CFCFI as early as 1984.

We seek to end the litigation for the sake of peace and the immense work God has entrusted to both communities. We are also prompted by the following considerations:

First, since the Philippine Church (as well as many dioceses throughout the world) has already approved CFC-FFL as a national private association of lay faithful, since both CFC-FFL and CFC Global are ecclesial communities operating within the framework and under the authority of the Catholic Church, the recognition conferred by the Church upon one community must bind the other, lest disobedience to the Church’s mandate arise. Should CFC Global look more to civil authorities than to the Church?

Second, it is contrary to the way of Jesus. When John complained about another exorcist saying, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” (Lk 9:49). Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. …. For whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mk 9:39-40). Might CFC Global end up preventing the work of Christ that CFC-FFL is doing by depriving it of its name? Would that not be disobedience to Jesus?

Third, it is against Paul’s instructions. If CFC Global has cause against CFC-FFL, since both are ecclesial associations, they should bring the matter to the Church and not to a civil court. “How can any one of you with a case against another dare to bring it to the unjust for judgment instead of to the holy ones?” (1 Cor 6:1). In fact, Paul is even more emphatic against such court cases. “Now indeed then it is, in any case, a failure on your part that you have lawsuits against one another. Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you inflict injustice and cheat, and this to brothers.” (1 Cor 6:7-8).

Fourth, it is scandalous, a public spectacle of a Catholic group suing another Catholic group. In fact, when we proposed mediation that was immediately rejected by the IC, the court-appointed mediator was scandalized and remarked: “Sayang naman. This is scandalous. Yung unang kaso, na settle ko, Couples for Christ pa naman kayo, di ko kayo mapagkasundo.” (The first case I settled. Now with you Couples for Christ, I cannot get you to reconcile).

Fifth, it is against the Vatican’s instructions. The Holy See, through the Pontifical Council for the Laity, had directed both CFCs (through Joe Tale and Frank Padilla) way back in May 2008 to refrain from deepening the disunity and strife between them, to avoid further actions that would heighten the public scandal, and to look to reconciliation and unity. In compliance with this, we have generally remained quiet and busied ourselves with our evangelistic and missionary work. As to use of the name “Couples for Christ,” the Vatican has stated that it is up to each bishop to recognize the group led by Frank Padilla with the name that they think is convenient.

Sixth, the case weakens the witness of CFC in general, and adversely affects the work of the Church in and through both CFCs. Only the evil one wins.

Seventh, the filing of a civil case contradicts the most fundamental virtue for Christians: love. The Lord commands His followers to love their neighbors, even their enemies. If an enemy is to be loved, does not a co-worker in the Lord’s vineyard deserve as much?

We have heard it said that CFC Global claims the revival of CFCFI was anomalous because it was already a defunct or dead corporation. This is incorrect. In 1993 when CFC Global was established, we merely shelved CFCFI and left it inactive. We could have dissolved CFCFI at that time, but providentially we did not. God apparently had a plan for CFCFI that kept it from being dissolved. Only after the split in 2007 did we truly see and understand this plan, whose unfolding began in 2008 when the SEC readily granted our application to revive CFCFI after we had complied with the legal requirements. Since then our community has embarked on a new, exciting journey that saw us move closer to the heart of the Church, consecrate our community to Mother Mary, commit ourselves to the renewal of the family and the defense of life, and answer the Lord’s call for a new evangelization.

We have heard it said that CFC Global was merely looking for the truth when it filed the case. Granted, but their intention would have been better served if they had simply brought their complaint to Church authorities, which could have heard and decided it discreetly and swiftly in accordance with Canon Law. Lodging the case before a public court has only conjured an image of disunity and hostility among the people of God, inviting criticisms from detractors and harming the work of evangelization.

We have heard it said that CFC Global claims there is confusion in having two CFCs. Well, there are not only two CFCs, but at least four. There is also CFC-GK, which has been given canonical recognition in the archdiocese of Davao, and there is CFC Australia, which has declared itself independent and is recognized by Australian bishops. Furthermore, there are at least 5 corporations bearing the name “Couples for Christ” currently recognized by the SEC. Why has the IC not filed any court cases against them?

It cannot be denied that CFCFI (CFC-FFL’s legal entity) is the original CFC corporation established in 1984. (CFC Global was registered only in 1993.) In fact, CFC-FFL’s logo (the faceless Christ) is the original logo adopted by CFC in 1982. CFC Global’s logo emerged only in 1993.

Historical rights notwithstanding, CFC-FFL had long ago assured CFC Global that it will not make any move to prevent CFC Global from using the CFC name. This is consistent with CFC-FFL’s policy of embracing, welcoming and collaborating with all brethren who share in the great work of evangelization. There is just too much work to be done and no time to waste on senseless division and bickering. Only Satan delights in this.

The scandal and the deep wound inflicted by the case cry for healing. This can easily be achieved by CFC Global withdrawing the court case, and accepting the hand of friendship that Frank Padilla has consistently extended to them.

CFC Global can even go further. They can accept the long-standing proposal Frank has put on the table, to have one CFC with two branches (in the pattern of so many religious congregations like the Franciscans, Carmelites and others). This immediately removes animosity and conflict, as both sides affirm their being brethren who came from the same stock and are doing similar work for the Kingdom. However, due to unresolved differences, there will remain two separate and distinct branches, each doing their own work according to their own culture and leadership. But they can also start to collaborate on Church events.

Who knows, both CFCs might even find it in their hearts to truly become one body once again.

38 Comments

  1. Lately i delivered a talk on Loving Your Neighbor during our CLS and one point emphasized there is – “Love is not always saying yes” but would it be possible for us to humble ourselves and just give up the name, then CFCFI be registered as FFC -Families for Christ instead? There maybe great hassles as far as going through the process of registering and lots of documents to change but if its the only way to peace with our brethren, why don’t we serve them that way. Forgive my “childish views” but I know Jesus admires the simple view of a child for its the “purest in heart”

    • The CFC-FFL communities here and abroad, as well as the bishops, local Church, etc. know us as CFC-FFL. To call ourselves FFC would make us unknown especially to bishops. That would be hard especially if you’re just starting. Also, why Families for Christ which is a totally new name? We’re not just families for Christ, but we are linked with our long 31 year history of couples for Christ that led to singles, youth, handmaids, servants and kids for Christ. Just my take on the matter, Young Worker in the Vineyard. :0 God bless you, brother.

    • The name Families for Christ is already being used by more than one ministry worldwide.
      Originally, I was all for changing the name. However, on reflection, I realized that the name is not something we come up with, just as the movement is not just a creation of human beings. It is God-given and unless He indicates the change I would today go slow on seeking change.
      The case is regarding the civil corporation and not the ecclesial movement which is, to my mind, not bound by the case or its outcome.

  2. In Iloilo, the name FFC is already in use. This was “magically” coined by the elders of the former CFC-Jaro Chapter under the Archdiocese of Jaro. These chapter left the CFC body because of the impossible vision that the CFC global has been doing (2007 and below). Today. FFC has grown from a small household into a full blown cluster, operating in close coordination with the Church.

    • See.. nothing is impossible.. why not adopt the name for the entire community just to settle the “name” claims for THE WORLD to see.. Why should we insist on a name that causes us to sin (or our other brethren to sin). Why not start anew and worry not coz “If God is with us, who can be against us?”

      • SEC has determined this course because of the actions coming from the IC most probably from their previous director which was called by the Jaro Archbishop as Atty. The Church has given recognition to CFC-FFL already. Let us wait for the discernment of our leaders.

        Clearly, this move from CFC Global is an indication that they have not yet moved on.

  3. “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father…” Matthew 5:44
    …need to pray, mortify some more and be at peace.

  4. Yes, crystal clear! What is wrong in protecting a right of an entity/organization/community by way of letting the court know the facts or threat of a possible take-over of a brand/trade name from a very clever move to use a synonymous sounds-like brand/trade name? Do not confused your thoughts. Hindi naman kase pwede na wala na lang gawin. CFC and FFL are both religious organization but such category does not exempt the said organizations to comply with what is prescribed and mandated by law, that both are a juridical entity, it has its own rights to protect and preserve its well being. 🙂

    • This is true. Protecting the rights from what?

      “Threat of a possible take-over”? You may be coming from a different perspective. What I see is a protection of rights coming from a corporate mind.

      Bro. Frank or CFC-FFL has no intentions of taking over the CFC name. It was already articulated in the previous open letters (dated 2007-08) that CFC-FFL will co-exist with the other CFC branch (but as of today branches na. We have CFC Global, CFC-FFL, and CFC-GK).

      Matanong ko lang Ed, is it damaging for one body under Christ to use the same name?

      If yes, how could this damage each community? (Follow up. Alam mo ba ang different Church organization that underwent the same tragedy as with our community?)

    • as for me Global need to be awaken of their unchristian actions…

      from the article:
      “Globals intention would have been better served if they had simply brought their complaint to Church authorities, which could have heard and decided it discreetly and swiftly in accordance with Canon Law. Lodging the case before a public court has only conjured an image of disunity and hostility among the people of God, inviting criticisms from detractors and harming the work of evangelization.”

      sacrificing the name CFC will only make Global think they are doing the right thing and continue doing what they are doing now w/c is “unchristianlike”. What will become of CFC-Global if its core’s discernment is like this?!

  5. Couples for Christ (CFC) is a gift from God entrusted to its founder, Frank Padilla. Bro. Frank is the keeper of the name. It is a gift to be treasured and to be shared and we in the Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life are sharing the name Couples for Christ with them. We are not fighting for the name but treasuring the name, Couples for Christ. I believe CFC does not belong to any particular group. It belongs to Christ and any one who wants to belong to Christ could could join the group and live like Christ and use the name Couples for Christ. And we are the Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life. God Bless.

      • Basahin mo ang meaning ng founder. The bishops declared Bro.Frank as the founder. Sa Church terms, ang founder ay ang keeper ng charism. Weh d nga? Oo. Try mo search ka ng congregations/religious groups. You will end up with the same conclusion.

      • kanino po dapat? Kahit po an vatican…He is still the recognized head of CFC….whether po kasama namin kayo o hindi….. importante may isa tayong layunin ang mag serve sa DIYOS……

  6. GOD has His way of bringing out the best in us through varied trials and life’s circumstances. By this, we are being tested of our way of thinking & understanding. I just pray each of us may be instruments for our future oneness.

  7. hi po… just to express my opinion… i guess we have to move on na po… cfc is cfc and ffl is ffl… there’s no use to battle between whose the true and legal bearer of the name Couples for Christ bcoz again, this are two separate communities w/ separate mission priorities… it is not right for us to judge immediately especially that the story we heard came from one side only – that’s bias. we have to move forward and prevent doing moves that will trigger each other to act against each other. It will cause confusion to our members and/or worst if they find it scandalous and enough reason for them to quit. The name Couples for Christ is highly respected, let us treasure this gift from the Almighty.

    • @Glenn, Confusion? Ask God for wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Seek and you shall find. And the truth will be revealed to you. Did you know that in Jesus time, the Jews spread lies against Him and He was persecuted.

    • If your leaders want to move on, they SHOULD respect the recommendations of the MANY Bishops that CFC and CFC-FFL may coexist.

      “..we have to move forward and prevent doing moves that will trigger each other to act against each other”. Again, who started the court cases po ba?

      What confusion do you wish to say glenn?

    • true… whats in a name anyway. This is God’s vineyard all of us are called by names and be His servant. What is important is we are serving Him and no matter where we are CFC or CFC-FFL we are His people and we have every right to be counted and be a part of his great kingdom. Bakit CFC kaya ba ninyo ang malaking trabaho na nakaatang sa ating lahat. Lets work togather for His glory…all we need is to be happy for what God has planned for us. Let us be one in God and work for his greater glory….. lets move one and claim nothing except His love and trust for us.

  8. so depressing na umabot sa ganito. It’s a shame to the both parties na sabihan ng “Couples for Christ pa nman kau”.. dba? mataas ung tinggin nla dahl Couples for Christ nga..servants ni Lord..even though i detach myself to the issue i’m still affected. iba-iba ung pnaniniwalaan ng tao kc nga “truth is relevant” wat may be true to you may not be true to me. only God knows kung sino ung tama. However, i believe that it is only a challenge sa community at sa ating lahat. Let’s not stop praying to settle this and not to do or say something pra siraan sila..kahit na binabato na nla lahat sa atin let’s just stay calm and let God settle it for it is part of HIS Righteous plan. May GOD enlighten us all..

  9. “ONE WHO APOLOGIZE FIRST IS THE BRAVEST…ONE WHO FORGIVES FIRST IS THE STRONGEST…ONE WHO FORGETS FIRST IS THE HAPPIEST!”……JESUS SAID “WHOEVER HAS NO SIN CAST THE FIRST STONE”…..

  10. Israel was a divided kingdom. Until Christ came and saw no Faith. It will take generations to heal this division. But in God’s time it will come.

  11. Negros Occidental was greatly affected by these issue, we have had our MOST FUN Provincial Youth Conference 2010 Right after the split up(The unity of IC and GK still exists). We have done many things like having an appeal but nothing happened. CFC-GK only wanted to unite all of the community… Well that’s what I have been praying of until now. CFC-GK is just waiting for others to unite and also doing an act to unite through faith and in good works… Now, the community of our province are divided into three ( I guess… The IC, FFL and GK) But some of the members of each of the community still hopes that there is no GK, no IC, no FFL just 1 COUPLES FOR CHRIST sharing 1 GOAL and 1 VISION. Let’s not think of war my brothers and sisters… Let us think of LOVE and BE HOPEFUL that ever we’ll be UNITED and not SEPERATED IN GOD’S TIME.

    To be honest with you, my heart was also broken rightafter the split-up that I’ve witnessed. I was once a kfc member and now a yfc member. In every prayer meetings, every time I pray or talk to God, this is what my mouth speaks, this is what I lift to the Lord. That we will all be ONE IN CHRIST. *Tear falls*

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