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The CFC Foundation for Family & Life is a gathering of concerned CFC brethren looking to the restoration, preservation and strengthening of the authentic Couples for Christ charism, focused on evangelization and family life renewal.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vatican admonishes Couples for Christ over Gawad Kalinga

The Vatican has chastised the Couples for Christ (CFC) group supportive of Gawad Kalinga founder Antonio Meloto for the "erroneous steps [it has] taken" when it decided to shift its focus from the spiritual to the social. The group was instructed to make a public apology.

Central to the concern of the Vatican was the direction taken by CFC-founded social action group Gawad Kalinga (GK). The Vatican disapproved of CFC’s "overemphasis on the social work" and GK’s openness to donations from groups that promote artificial family planning. These issues have caused the high-profile split of the CFC in July last year.

In a March 11 letter to CFC president Jose Tale, Stanislaw Rylko of Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity said that CFC should "counterbalance the overemphasis on social work...." As for donations from agencies that promote artificial family control, the letter said; "Your decision to stop receiving this type of funding will help recover the good standing of your association Couples for Christ."

The letter was a result of Tale’s March 3 visit to the Vatican, where he "admitted [that] some mistakes have been made and a certain scandal and confusion [was] caused among the faithful."


»Split in Couples For Christ May Hurt GK Housing Projects:
"Since [the split] has caused public scandal, a certain public
reparation is also needed. We urge that you prepare and spread in the
newspapers in the Philippines and on your Web site a well thought and
clear public declaration recognizing the erroneous steps taken,"
Rylko added.

Build a nation

Four letters between two Vatican officials, Tale, and Bishop Gabriel
Reyes on the issue were obtained by abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.
Although the letters did not explicitly identify GK, it is clear—GK
being CFC's social arm—that it was what the Vatican officials were
referring to.

"It is extremely important that your Philippine problem does not
extend to the other regions of the world," Rylko said. He recognized
that CFC is the "biggest ecclesial reality that was born in Asia and
then expanded internationally."

abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak was able to talk to Meloto on the phone.
But he said he has not read Rylko's letter. When told about the
contents, Meloto maintained that GK's mission is to "build a nation."

"We are working with different universities, different religious
groups, the Muslims, and the Opus Dei," he said. "We are here to
build a nation. The problem of poverty is best fought in the slums.
We are here to save our children from malnutrition. We will just
continue to work," he said.

Vatican sides with breakaway group

The controversy over CFC's focus on GK broke out in August last year
after CFC founder and a few hundred supporters left the group and
formed a new group that wrestled against the original group for the
CFC name.

Rylko's letter effectively puts the Vatican on the side of the CFC
breakaway group of Frank Padilla--the founder of CFC--which has long
been protesting against Meloto on how GK was being managed.

GK aims to benefit 700,000 Filipino families by building 7,000
communities in seven years, or by 2010. Founded in 2003, GK has
become popular worldwide and likened to the Grameen Bank of
Bangladesh, an initiative that earned Muhammad Yunus his Nobel Peace
Prize in 2006. GK head Antonio Meloto himself earned his Ramon
Magsaysay Award for leadership in 2006.

But Padilla's group frowned on precisely the two things that
displeased the Vatican. Padilla wanted to focus on evangelization.
Some GK leaders prefer to work even with people who don't strictly
adhere to Catholic teachings.

Family planning

Padilla's group also accused GK of not pushing for naturally planning—
as prescribed by the Catholic Church—supposedly because some of GK's
corporate partners favored population control and the use of

Another Vatican official, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of the
Pontifical Council for the Family, pointed out in a November 2007
letter to Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes that "accepting donations
from those who promote abortion and contraception will compromise the
Gospel of the Family and of Life, and will greatly harm our efforts
to strengthen and defend the family and life; hence, it should not be

Trujillo made the statement in response to a letter by Reyes, asking
whether groups promoting family life may receive funds from
pharmaceutical companies or abortifacient pills. Reyes is the
chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
Episcopal Commission on the Laity.

Reyes has sided with the breakaway group of Padilla. It was him,
along with Archbishop Angel Lagdameo and Bishop Socrates Villegas,
who tried to mend the differences between the two factions last year.
But to no avail.

It is not yet clear if the unity of the two CFC groups is possible.

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