WOUND IN THE CHURCH
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
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
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.
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Wound in the Church