Ever since the split in 2007, CFC Global has not stopped filing cases to prevent us from using the name “Couples for Christ”. While we have long moved on by focusing solely on the urgent work of evangelization, CFC Global has busied itself with filing lawsuits against us in the United States, Canada and the Philippines. The case in the United States was eventually settled due to the timely intervention of the local church, but the legal actions in Canada and the Philippines continue to rage and hurt both communities.
In the Philippines, the case is before the Court of Appeals, where CFC Global has filed a complaint questioning the order of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) reinstating the 1984 registration of Couples for Christ Foundation Inc. (“CFCFI”), the legal entity of CFC-FFL. Its objective is to bar CFC-FFL from using the name “Couples for Christ”, which is ironic considering that it was CFCFI — the first entity to bear and use the name — that merely permitted CFC Global to include “Couples for Christ” in its corporate name when the latter applied for SEC registration in 1993. As original user of “Couples for Christ”, we could have demanded exclusivity over the name, but decided against it as it would have been selfish and disruptive of our work for the Lord. It would have also deepened the division and worsened any animosity pervading among members of the two communities. Our desire has always been for peaceful co-existence with our brethren in CFC Global.
We had tried our best to resolve the case amicably, but our efforts had been met with rejections by CFC Global. Just recently, we requested the Court of Appeals to refer the case to mediation in hopes of ending the scandal brought about by two catholic lay organizations fighting over a name. Our aim was to forge a compromise similar to that reached in the United States, where CFC-FFL was allowed to use the name “Couples for Christ” although with the distinguishing phrase ”for Family and Life”. The Court of Appeals readily welcomed our conciliatory move and granted our request, but not without chiding the parties for engaging in such acrimonious civil litigation. To quote a portion of the Court’s order to mediate:
“Truth be told, this Court finds this Motion a welcome development and considering that efforts of parties to compromise are very well encouraged by the courts … We just hope that this opportunity will be fully taken advantaged of by the leaders of the contending parties to contemplate on a more diplomatic solution to their conflict. While a long time has passed since the break-up among the members of the old Couples for Christ, we believe it is never too late for them to kiss and make up and smoke the peace pipe. Furthermore, even if reunion may seem to be far-fetched at this point, we earnestly hope that both parties can successfully find a way to work together in tearing the wall of anger and pride that had separated their members and, thereafter, work hand in hand in building a bridge of peaceful co-existence. After all, difference aside, they are still brothers and sisters of one God and it cannot be denied that they actually work for the same purpose, that is, to serve and please the Lord.” (Below is a copy of the Court’s Order.)
Unfortunately, at the start of the first meeting set by the Court of Appeals on May 9, 2012, CFC Global quickly dashed all hopes for a compromise. Without even giving the mediator a chance to explore settlement options, its representatives abruptly rejected the mediation process by casually informing the mediator that CFC Global has already decided to continue with the litigation and just let the Court decide the case. The stonewalling of CFC Global so dismayed the mediator that he scathingly remarked:
“Sayang naman. This is scandalous. Yung unang kaso, na settle ko, Couples for Christ pa naman kayo, di ko kayo mapagkasundo.,,,,,,.. Kung pareho pala kayo ng ginagawa bakit dapat kailangang may manalo at may matalo pa?”
With the failure of mediation, the Court of Appeals is expected to issue its ruling soon. We do not know what the decision will be. Whatever it is, however, we know that the decision will not be the end of the case, because the aggrieved party is certain to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court, which shall be the final judge in the controversy.Thus, until the Supreme Court resolves with finality the issue over the name “Couples for Christ”, we should be able to use the name “Couples for Christ for Family and Life” or the acronym “CFC-FFL” without limitations or restrictions. Let no contrary information deceive you.
As a final word, we urge everyone to soldier-on for the Lord, giving his/her best for the accomplishment of the work for which our community has been called by God. We will continue to encounter difficulties and trials along the way as warned by the Lord (not least, the cases filed by our litigious brethren in CFC Global), but be assured that the Holy Spirit will enable us to overcome all obstacles and persevere through all adversities in our quest for the “pearl of great price”. Take comfort in the promise of Jesus that He will never abandon or forsake us, and that He will always be with us until the end of time!
(May 28, 2012)