Our sacred right and duty as citizens
A PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE CFC INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL
February 23, 2022
In 2021, our beloved community Couples for Christ celebrated our 40th Anniversary. It was a milestone not only because of the length of our existence but also because it marked the end of our first generation. We are reminded that when the second generation of God’s people, led by Joshua, entered the Promised Land, it was not to live a quiet and peaceful existence but rather, to fight numerous battles and struggle to survive.
Today we face the first major battle of our second generation. Today we stand at the crossroads of our life and mission, where our choice will define us as a community and as citizens of our beloved country. We refer to our May 2022 elections when we are called to exercise our sacred right and duty as citizens of our land.
We are aware that amid the din of campaign speeches in these 2022 elections, exacerbated by fake news and trolling, you look to us, your International Council, for guidance and direction on how to navigate this particular battleground. In every election, we have tried our best to do that; we have consistently provided the basic foundation upon which your discernment will flow. In every election, we have issued pastoral statements and guidelines that have sought to clarify our stand as a community.
In our pastoral letter dated December 5, 2021, we reiterated those guidelines, and we quote:
1. “CFC as an institution will not endorse particular candidates or parties.” However, this does not preclude our individual participation in the electoral process.
2. We will be guided by the admonition of our Church leaders for participation in PRINCIPLED POLITICS. This is what Bishop Broderick Pabillo echoed during our CFC-sponsored webinar on “Responsible Christian Citizenship” last September 28, 2021. Quoting from the pastoral letter of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) entitled “Seek the Common Good,” issued on January 28, 2019, he said that “Participation in politics for Christian laypeople is not just to be limited to non-partisan involvement. Christians are also encouraged to engage in principled partisan participation. This means that they can campaign for good candidates as an exercise of their Christian faith.”
The new CBCP President, Bishop Ambo David, emphatically weighed in on PRINCIPLED POLITICS for the election during the online courtesy call of the International Council brothers to him last December 3, 2021.
3. We are called to respect each other’s opinions and preferences. At every opportunity, we shall relate in love and respect and care for one another. We should not indulge in divisive discussions. All of us should keep to heart and mind that national elections come around every six years, but our bonds of mutual love, respect, and friendship will always remain.
4. Participate in “circles of discernment.” Generally, these are small groups made up of 7-10 persons who may choose to come together to study relevant issues, examine each candidate’s platform and professed values, go into deep prayer and reflection in order to form enlightened opinions that will guide their individual choices on the day of the election.
5. Support efforts for clean and honest elections. Setting aside partisanship, wherever practicable, join independent accredited groups whose goal is to ensure that elections are clean, honest, and transparent.
Like many of you who have already begun studying the qualifications of the presidential candidates to help you discern your choice, we in the International Council went through the Circle of Discernment (COD) process last Sunday, February 20, 2022, so that we may be further guided in our reflection and study. We began our exercise with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist to set the activity’s solemn and sacred tone.
We deemed as important to our discussion and discernment the following appropriate sections of our Vatican International Statutes, granted to us in 2005:
1. Section 2.24 – Societal/national/global renewal: “COUPLES FOR CHRIST, in raising up holy Christian men and women, likewise raises up responsible members of society and patriotic citizens of countries.”
2. Section 9.0 – COUPLES FOR CHRIST as an agent of renewal within the Catholic Church:
a. 9.42 – COUPLES FOR CHRIST will conform to and support official and orthodox Church teachings and stands on issues.
b. 9.43 – COUPLES FOR CHRIST is committed to the communication of the Catholic faith in all its integrity to its Catholic members.
We also went into a deep discussion of the criteria we felt were crucial in choosing the best leaders for our country. We reviewed the criteria that some organizations have formulated, such as the Diocese of Cubao and our own STMA, and juxtaposed those with our CFC values of Pro-God, Pro-Family, Pro-Life, and Pro-Poor. In the end, we came up with the following simplified criteria which we highly recommend all of you adopt in your own CODs:
1. Karangalan – Our candidate must be honorable, meaning deserving of honor and respect; exhibiting honesty and good moral character; is fair and proper, not deserving of blame or criticism
2. Katapatan – This encompasses many attributes: devoted, loyal, faithful, constant, genuine, truthful, honest, someone who walks the talk, who has integrity and moral authority.
3. Kakayahan – The leader with kakayahan has the ability and capability to perform the task assigned, is competent.
4. Karunungan – More than intelligence, the leader must be wise, capable of analyzing all aspects of a given situation, and deciding for the common good.
5. May takot sa Diyos – More than God-fearing, the candidate must also be seen, by action and not merely by word, as God-loving.
We began our discussion of the criteria on the premise and realization that there is no perfect candidate. At the end of our prayerful immersion and meaningful discussion, the members of the IC reached the decision to support the presidential candidacy of Leni Robredo.
Those of you who have been with CFC for many years will realize that this is the first time the International Council is announcing its support, based on individual IC member choices, for a particular candidate.
In stating its support for Leni Robredo, however, the International Council recognizes and acknowledges the God-given right of each and every member to make his/her choice. Thus, we are not imposing this decision on anyone. We recognize that the very essence of democracy is the freedom of everyone to express their own views, to make their own choices and to demand, if not agreement, at least respect for their decisions. As has been our policy over the years, we do not and will not endorse candidates because we do not want to see CFC as an institution imposing block voting on the brethren.
We arrived at our individual decision to support Leni Robredo after much prayer, discernment, and dialogue. We expect you to do the same and go through the same process of discernment we went through. Should your decision differ from ours, we will respect your choice in the spirit of love and brotherhood that has characterized, and will continue to characterize, our being CFC.
We ask only that we all remain faithful to our Christian calling and that we be actively involved in principled politics as our Church teaches. We are one with our Church in our desire to see only God-fearing men and women in leadership positions who will lead us and the next generations into a free, progressive, and united Philippines.
We reiterate that elections come and go, but our brotherhood and community life will remain for many more years to come. The noise of the campaign will cease, but the force of our love for each other, and the depth of our shared mission will continue.
Let us all exercise our sacred right because, in the face of the challenges our country now must overcome, this has become not just a privilege but our Christian duty.
We believe our theme – Christ Heals! – is God-inspired, not just for our community but for our entire country. May God’s healing grace be upon us all.
THE CFC INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL
JOSE S. YAMAMOTO
MICHAEL C. ARIOLA
RABBONI FRANCIS B. ARJONILLO
EMMANUEL M. DALMAN
RUDY M. GASPILLO
JOSELITO E. ARGUELLES
GEORGE B. CAMPOS
JAMES T. DIO
JOSE T. TALE
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