First off, I'd just like to say that I was trying my best to do as the IC had requested when they asked us to be still, and Love One Another. I was praying for things to settle down, for the FFL to do what they are supposed to be doing and maybe find their calling. Truth be told, I was sincerely hoping that the blog could be retired, having done its work. Don't get me wrong though, retired is different from tired, which I am not. It seems, there is much, much more work to do. I am now hoping that, after all the support we have shown in helping to put our house in order, we can all step up to form a united front to face the latest threats against CFC.
As the cliche goes, here we go again.
I've changed the colors of the blog just to get the attention of those who might have gotten used to the lack of updates lately. Also, it also signifies the same important reason why the Philippine flag is sometimes turned upside down.
(Don't worry, we'll be back to blue soon enough, lets just say that the present colors are reflective of my mood, in light of the current situation.)
So...where do I start?
Well, I was supposed to be posting the concluding 2nd part of the What's in a Name entry. It's been composed for a while now, and in fact it has evolved through the weeks, but for some reason I didn't feel ready to post it. Now I know why. I believe I was meant to wait for the latest events that have transpired.
To update everybody on just a small part of what's been happening:
The Archbishop of Jaro, Most Rev. Angel Lagdameo has issued a pastoral directive addressed to all Couples for Christ members in his Archdiocese of Jaro, basically stating that he accepts both the CFC and the FFL in his archdiocese. He goes on to exhort both groups to "...support each other in their respective apostolate."
The decree itself is normal, since if you all can recall Bishop's Reyes' official statement after the dialogue, he points out that the FFL, "...in order to to get official recognition from the Church...should start as a diocesan organization..." So, Bishop Lagdameo is only following the natural progression of things, as the FFL has probably applied for recognition, and he is approving it. Simple, right? Ah but there's the rub....
Bishop Lagdameo is the President of the CBCP, and as such, appears to carry the weight of the whole organization behind him. At least that's how the FFL would like for it to appear. He has also inserted some specific wording in his directive, that, among others, "orders" the CFC to recognize the "...peculiar role of the Founder of Couples for Christ, Frank Padilla."
(As an aside, I thought the "founder" point had already been made abundantly clear, HERE.)
This has since triggered a flurry of cyber activity, obviously with the FFL who have understandably reacted with glee, and with CFC members, who are seeing a new rift beginning because of the added confusion this is sowing worldwide.
Here are both pages of Bishop Lagdameo's circular:
I've wondered long and hard about how I should respond to this, actually, how any of us in CFC would, considering the seeming weight of the "orders." I know this situation has given more than a few of us headaches and lost sleep, caused mainly by, frustration.
Because how does one tell the president of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines that his action can possibly cause more harm than good? The answer? Good question.
If you need any more proof that prayer works though, look no further. Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways, and sometimes, He just makes you wait. Turns out I didn't have to tell the good Bishop anything, I just had to show.
So here then, is my open letter to:
MOST REV. ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO,
My most respectful greetings dear Bishop, I hope this letter finds you well and at peace.
This open letter is in response to your Circular No.209/04/2008, addressed to the members of Couples for Christ, both in the CFC and the FFL.
I would like, first of all, to thank you for the love and affection you so obviously show your flock, and in your resolve in pursuing peace and unity among the members of both the FFL and CFC. The example you have set should serve as a shining beacon for both groups, since the future and survival of either group rests in the resolution of their differences. It would be a shame to see the continued division and eventual dissolution of a religious organization that has so successfully brought thousands of people closer to God and the church.
The reason I am writing to you now though, was brought on by what seems to be confusion in interpreting your directive. I am re-printing your words here:
"I would like to make it known to everyone my pastoral directive for all the members Of Couples for Christ in the Archdiocese of Jaro:"Please forgive my presumption but I understand this statement to mean that your directive covers only your Archdiocese of Jaro. It seem to me that this may have not been made clear enough to certain members of either community. A case in point, if I may bring to your attention certain emails referring to your directive and are now currently circulating in the communities, I quote here:
"let us fan out this attachment in the email so that all may know what the truth and nothuing but the truth, says. seek the lie-lows and third forces in your area and discuss this freely with them, and ask for a decision - if in the face of this document they still have reservations, then not even the Holy Spirit can help them.. when we talk "discernment" in CFC, it is spiritual discernment, as distinguished from human processes. if in the face of this, they still are skeptics, warn them that they could be sinning against the Holy Spirit which the bible says is unforgivable. every Christian, when confronted by the truth, can no longer hem and haw but proact on it with the free and unencumbered conscience."
*bold highlights mine
I think it is fairly plain to see how your noble intentions can be used to "persuade" and pressure people into an unprepared discernment, esp. under the threat of supposedly "sinning", when in truth, they've done nothing wrong.
Also, I'd like to point out the possibility, in their zeal to spread your esteemed directive, that some people could be missing a very key portion of it that states:
"3) That both groups must be faithful to the vision, mission and charism of the original Couples for Christ. They must support each other in their respective apostolate. They must refrain from destructive criticisms, competition and jealousy and manipulative behavior to destroy the other. This is not inspired by the Good Spirit."Contained in the same email, you may find that they might very well have skipped that section of your directive:
*bold highlights mine
"...with it, let us go into the offensive. flush them out of the parish scene, exposing them as charlatans, if they continue to peddle lies and half-truths just to suit their their evil intentions."Bishop, I know that they do not mean to speak this way, especially in reference to such an inspired decree, it just may be that they might need the additional clarity that only you can provide.
*bold highlights mine
I hope that I haven't taken too much of your valuable time, I write this open letter only in the hopes that this can be brought to the attention of those directly involved in these emails and in the spirit of brotherly correction, be reminded of the true spirit with which your directive was written.
Your Humble Servant in Christ,
The full text of those emails can be found below or download from HERE:
I personally don't know how the good Bishop will take such a letter, but really, it can't possibly be any worse than the FFL's Ado Paglinawan's gleeful email, can it? I wonder why they didn't copy the Bishop on it? Surely if it referred to his directive, he should be at least notified of their actions. It would be the most respectful thing to do.
Speaking of Ado's email, the way I received it, it had already been responded to by some of our brethren. One of the responses was very worth posting, so here it is in its entirety:
On 2/25/08, Norinna Palad < > wrote:
Thank you for this email, which came to my attention because you passed it on through friends and it finally got to my email.
First, I have to tell you that whatever circular Arcbishop releases as the Archbishop of Jaro is not binding on the other Archbishops of the Philippines. His being president of the CBCP is purely administrative and coordinative. He has no power over other bishops. Any pastoral decision affecting a nationwide scope has to be deliberated and voted upon by the entire CBCP.
First, for a statement to be officially issued in the name of the CBCP, it must have the approval of the majority of the members of the CBCP during plenary session. The "statements" often issued by Archbishop Lagdameo are not official CBCP statements because these were not voted upon during plenary session. These are simply his personal statements.
Second, simply because the CBCP has approved a statement does not mean that it is binding upon the consciences of the faithful. In order for a CBCP statement to command internal assent from the Filipino faithful (meaning, we can't disagree with it), it must have the following characteristics:
1) It must be UNANIMOUSLY approved by ALL members of the CBCP. If there is even only one bishop who doesn't approve, then the statement does not bind
2) If there is NO UNANIMOUS approval, the approval of the Holy See must FIRST be sought. No approval of the Holy See, no binding power.
This can be seen in the final paragraphs of "Apostolos Suos", a document issued by Pope John Paul II to rein in the abuses of the various national bishops' conferences throughout the world.
In all of these, we have to remain vigilant especially when invoking the Holy Spirit, lest we grieve Him by making or passing on statements given by others, to which individuals are ASKED to commit or agree to, LEST they commit the "unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit".. This is plain and simple HERESY. We ALL have the power to call upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and discernment., in order to make wise and individual decisions. No person can say that he has the sole prerogative of speaking for the Holy Spirit. Not even the Pope makes that claim, and not even the Pope says that those who disagree with him can never be forgiven..
Let us all be guided by the Holy Spirit at all times.
Your sister in Christ,
Thank you Sister Nori, I couldn't have said it better myself. No really, I couldn't. I'm very glad I received that email after you've had your say.
So folks, it looks like it's back to the battle stations. Are you all ready?