Speak It Out

Work is my commitment. Learning is my passion. Faith is my strength. Love is my life.

My Photo
Location: Manila, Philippines

The name Ardythe:good war (Anglo-saxon); flowering field (Hebrew); spiritual prosperity (Swedish); Norwegian goddess.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No Gawad Kalinga-Couples split, says Meloto

No Gawad Kalinga-Couples split, says Meloto
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:55:00 05/19/2009

Filed Under: Couples for Christ rift, Housing & Urban Planning, Poverty

MANILA, Philippines—Gawad Kalinga executive director Antonio Meloto reiterated Monday that there has been no split between the pro-poor housing advocacy group and the Couples for Christ International Council (CFC-IC).

Meloto said the report of a split between the two groups which appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday was a disservice to the poor that Gawad Kalinga and CFC seek to serve.

He said Gawad Kalinga continued to seek the support of parishes, and reports of a split with the CFC lay ministry, which is recognized by Rome, would only sow confusion.

Gawad Kalinga and CFC-IC early this month decided to have separate leaderships, he said.

The action caused Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz to call on parishes and chaplaincies in Pangasinan province to shun Gawad Kalinga activities since, the prelate said, it was no longer connected with the Catholic Church.

“As stated, there is no split or break between Gawad Kalinga and CFC, just a change in membership in the board of Gawad Kalinga,” Meloto said.

“Whoever fed the misinformation to the bishops and the Inquirer committed a grievous sin against the poor, against CFC and all Catholics. Our people have suffered long enough from poverty, neglect and our failure to practice what the Church has been teaching us,” he said.

Meloto said the poor “do not deserve to be deprived of care due to an internal transition in leadership which is designed to strengthen our mission of building the church of the poor.”

“My covenant with (CFC leader) Joe Tale is clear. There is no split—only greater solidarity between CFC and Gawad Kalinga for God, country and the poor,” he said.

“No one has the right to remove Gawad Kalinga from CFC whose members have made heroic sacrifices to create this noble work that has transformed lives and deepened faith,” he added.

The group builds housing communities for the poor.

Meanwhile, Gawad Kalinga is set to unveil its vision up to 2024 to the world.
GK2024, Gawad Kalinga’s Asian model for community development and poverty reduction, will be launched in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 12 during the Gawad Kalinga Global Summit, the group said in a statement.

Along with celebrating Philippine independence on that day, GK will officially begin its global fight against poverty with a 21-year timeline to end poverty for five million poorest Filipinos and build a First-World Philippines.

Vice President Noli de Castro will deliver the keynote address, “Leaving No One Behind,” to open the summit.

Speakers will include Camarines Sur Gov. LRay Villafuerte, who will present perspectives on radical and effective development.

Meloto will launch a book called “The Builder of Dreams,” a first-hand account of the Gawad Kalinga journey.

For more information about the summit, visit www.gawadkalinga.org/globalsummit.

Bishop instructs flock to shun GK projects

Bishop instructs flock to shun GK projects
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:47:00 05/18/2009

Filed Under: Churches (organisations), House building, Family planning, Poverty

MANILA, Philippines—Archbishop Oscar Cruz has issued instructions to shun Gawad Kalinga (GK), a civic group whose initiatives to build shelter for the poor have come under fire for receiving donations from advocates of population control—a policy opposed by the Catholic Church.

The directive from the outspoken Lingayen-Dagupan prelate—the strongest on the issue from a ranking official of the Church hierarchy—was issued to parishes and chaplaincies in Pangasinan.

It came after the Couples for Christ International Council (CFC-IC) cut its ties with the GK recently.

Cruz said in his circular, which appeared on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website, that the CFC-IC action would allow the GK to function as a nonreligious organization.

“In this particular regard, it would be right and prudent for you and me to have nothing to do with the Gawad Kalinga—directly or indirectly—in the event that such goes to your respective parishes or chaplaincies,” Cruz said.

“[This] in no way means that the said civic entity is altogether bad or something the like. Yet, pastoral prudence dictates the above advisory,” he said.

Gawad Kalinga is an advocacy group engaged in building decent housing for the impoverished, a program hailed here and abroad. Until recently, it was a part of the activities of the CFC.

Persons involved with CFC and the GK have had serious disagreements, including the housing advocacy being open to donations from groups promoting population management that the Catholic hierarchy opposes.

Interdependence remains

Antonio Meloto, GK executive director, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that there was no severing of ties with the CFC-IC. There may be an independence of governance, but there remains an “interdependence of members” of the two groups, he said.

Meloto indicated that the Catholic hierarchy should continue to be part of his group’s activities.

“Gawad Kalinga is the pearl of the Catholic church. It is an expression of what has been preached,” he said in a telephone interview.

Meloto said CFC members continued to serve on the GK board despite what he described as a realignment in leadership.

Cruz told the Inquirer that he issued the circular to make it clear that the Catholic Church no longer had any connection with the GK following its disassociation from the CFC.

The prelate said the CFC had the “pontifical imprimatur of Rome.” With no more connection to the CFC, Cruz said the GK also ceased to be a Church-based organization.

“It is already a civic group,” he said, comparing GK to the Rotary and Lions clubs.

“It’s good if Gawad Kalinga does well. But if it does something bad, the Church might get involved.”

But Cruz clarified: “Individually, any one without reference to faith, without reference to creed, everyone [is] free to join Gawad Kalinga.”

In his text statement, Meloto said: “There is greater solidarity between CFC and Gawad Kalinga in our work of bringing Filipinos out of poverty.

“This is the mission of every Catholic and every Filipino, and we will work with the government, the business community, the academe, civic organizations, Catholic groups like Bukas-loob sa Diyos, Focolare, Knights of Columbus, Cursillo, Magis Deo, Ligaya ng Panginoon, Bo Sanchez’s Light of Jesus, and Catholic schools and parishes here and abroad.

“There is a change in the board of Gawad Kalinga, but all of the members are CFC, except Ateneo president Fr. Ben Nebres. I am a devout Catholic and an active leader of the CFC.”

Earlier in Batangas, Lipa Archishop Ramon Arguelles expressed regret over the severed CFC-IC and GK ties.

Arguelles, the CBCP news website said, insisted that GK projects in his archdiocese continued to be administered by the CFC as a “prime result of CFC’s pledge to renew families worldwide.”

“I am convinced that the GK should continue and become a more effective social arm of the CFC firmly rooted in and reflective of the Catholic faith and practices without prejudice, though, to the CFC-GK’s commendable work of sharing God’s blessings with non-Catholics and non-Christians,” he said.

Arguelles said GK activities outside CFC direction were neither allowed nor recognized by the Lipa Archdiocese.

“Evidently, the GKs in Batangas are prohibited to have anything to do with institutions whose policies contradict the Church’s teachings,” he said.

CBCP news said Arguelles was referring to institutions like the Habitat for Humanity, Pfizer, the Population Commission and others. The groups are known to promote population management that the Catholic leadership opposes.

Fundamental differences

The CFC-IC, a lay organization, early this month announced the breakaway to allow GK to expand its work as a nonreligious organization.

“While CFC is pursuing the fullness of the mission, GK is focused on nation-building and poverty alleviation, which necessitate that it mainstreams and partners with all sectors of society. It is even poised to enter non-Christian countries (such as India, Indonesia and the Middle East) as a nonreligious organization,” CFC executive director Joe Tale said on the CBCP website.

“[As such], there has been honest divergence of opinions [from] these fundamental differences. We have tried to resolve these … However, despite our common best efforts and intentions, unity continues to be elusive under the present structure,” he added.

Tale said the CFC would continue with its pro-poor ministry even with the decision.

Time for GK to Break Away from CFC

Time for GK to Break Away from CFC
By Perry Diaz
First Posted 11:27:00 04/30/2008

Filed Under: Charity, Clubs & Associations, Human Interest

In my article, "Quo Vadis, Gawad Kalinga?" last September, I said: "Gawad Kalinga is not just an organization, it's a movement -- an ideal, I must say -- driven by an army of believers: volunteers, advocates, beneficiaries and benefactors. Indeed, Gawad Kalinga (GK) has taken a life of its own. Its scope has expanded to an all-inclusive humanitarian movement. But does that mean that evangelization cannot be a part of Gawad Kalinga's mission? Sure it can, but not within the context of Couples for Christ (CFC). At the end of the day, there is only one way for Gawad Kalinga to go: move forward…on its own."

At the time I wrote the article, Frank Padilla had already formed a breakaway group, the Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL). But Gawad Kalinga remained with CFC. After the split, the two groups went their separate ways and the furor subsided. But underneath the appearance of civility between the two groups, the rivalry between their leaders continued underground, shielded from media scrutiny.

Then a news article written by ABS-CBN News' Carmela Fonbuena titled, "Vatican admonishes Couples for Christ over Gawad Kalinga," struck like a 50-foot tsunami. Fonbuena wrote, "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 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," Fonbuena added.

The basis of the article was a letter dated March 11 sent by Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Laity to CFC President Jose Tale which said that CFC should "counterbalance the overemphasis on social work…" And in regard to donations from entities who promote "artificial family planning" -- specifically, use of condoms -- Cardinal Rylko said, "Your decision to stop receiving this type of funding will help recover the good standing of your association Couples for Christ."

Fonbuena wrote that Cardinal Rylko's letter was the result of Tale's March 3, 2008 visit to the Vatican, where he "admitted [that] some mistakes have been made and a certain scandal and confusion [was] caused among the faithful."

What William M. Esposo wrote in his recent article, "Tony Meloto's sanctification,” is interesting: “In a September 20, 2007 posting on http://www.restorecfc.multiply.com (website of Frank Padilla's breakaway group), Padilla admitted having sought and talked to Cardinal Rylko. Padilla stated that he went 'to speak with Archbishop Rylko and apprise him of the situation of CFC. That is my responsibility as the one who got our recognition and as the one whose name appears in our recognition.' Now, do you think that Frank Padilla told Cardinal Rylko the whole unvarnished truth or did he try to sell to the Cardinal his slanted version of the controversy?"

If CFC President Tale indeed admitted that some "mistakes" were made, it is presumed that Cardinal Rylko addressed only those "mistakes." I believe, however, that if Tale did not go to the Vatican, the rift between CFC and CFC-FFL would have remained underground and the Vatican would have turned a blind eye to the imbroglio. In essence Tale forced Cardinal Rylko to react to his admission that some "mistakes" were made.

So, what now? Let's take a quick look at the history of CFC: In 1993 Padilla and several others broke away from another Catholic lay organization, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (Joy of the Lord), to form CFC. In 2002, another split occurred when the Families in Christ Jesus (FCJ) was formed by a splinter group within CFC. The organizers of FCJ believed that CFC was veering away from its evangelistic mission when it started raising funds to build homes for the poor. They believed that CFC should not be in the business of fund-raising. At that time, Padilla was the head honcho of CFC. Ironically, it was for the same reason that Padilla formed the CFC-FFL. It's amazing how history repeated itself in such a short time.

I also said in "Quo Vadis, Gawad Kalinga?": "The CFC-Gawad Kalinga relationship was like a case of a square peg in a round hole: no matter how you try to fit it in, it won't fit in. Gawad Kalinga simply wouldn't work the way it was conceived or, more appropriately, the way it evolved into what it is today.

“One can argue that nothing is wrong with what Gawad Kalinga has been doing. Indeed, nation-building is one of the noblest missions to pursue. However, the Couples for Christ is not about building a nation; it is about building the Church. And that was the reason the Vatican recognized and sanctioned CFC in 2000." It seems that Cardinal Rylko merely reinforced what the Roman Catholic Church is all about.

One of the leaders of FCJ told me: "CFC and GK are both right in their missions. However, the members have to choose between the two missions using their own personal charism." In other words, they have to choose between "winning the souls" and "building communities for the poor."

I believe it's time for Gawad Kalinga to break away from Couples for Christ and stand on its own, without any ties -- direct or indirect -- to the Vatican. By severing its ties with CFC, the Vatican cannot interfere with GK. It can then work unrestricted with any group. It would become a true humanitarian movement and in that capacity work more "miracles" uplifting the poorest of the poor, not just in the Philippines but anywhere in the world where it’s needed. CFC and CFC-FFL could then reconcile and reunite into one cohesive organization and continue what they were mandated to do when the Vatican recognized and sanctioned them in 2000. A reunified -- and reinvigorated -- CFC can then extend its evangelical work to Gawad Kalinga villages. CFC and GK can say that they're building communities for the poor as well as winning souls. It's a win-win solution that I'm pretty sure the Vatican couldn't be happier with.

In my opinion, as well as the rest of the brothers and sisters in the community, building beautiful villages for the poor gives them hope, and in doing that, all at the same time, we are rebuilding their soul - spiritually. How can one say that there is God when he is always hungry and a victim of poverty. Both issues have to be addressed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tony Meloto's Text Regarding Inquirer Article dated 18 May 2009

The headline of inquirer today is misleading and unfair to CFC members, catholics and the poor. As stated, there is no split or break in CFC and GK, just a change in membership in the board of GK. Whoever fed the misinformation to the bishops and to PDI have committed a grevious sin against the poor, against CFC and against all Catholics. Our people have suffered long enough from poverty, neglect and our failure to practice what the Church has been teaching us. They do not deserve to be deprived of care due to an internal transition in leadership which is designed to strengthen our mission of building the church of the poor. My covenant with Joe Tale is clear, there is no split, only greater solidarity between CFC and GK for God, country and the poor. No one has the right to remove GK from CFC whose members have made heroic sacrifices to create this noble work that has transformed lives and deepened faith. God bless you. - Tony Meloto