Monday, May 5, 2008

Catholic Faith Defender History

By: Atty. Miguel (Mike) L. Abas
CFD National President

The Organization's Humble Beginning

It was the year 1935 when Philippine Independent Church or commonly known as Aglipayan Church and other Protestant denominations were actively conducting their Bible Exposition in the public places and eventually established their own groups in the Archdiocese of Cebu City, Philippines. They vigorously attacked the catholic doctrines and practices citing the Bible as their ultimate basis that many Catholics were converted to their fold.

In 1938 up to 1945, after the second world war, groups of laymen specifically in the parishes of St. Nichols, Sugbo (now Cebu City) and Virgin de la Regla of Opon (now Lapu-Lapu City) started their meetings and study of the scripture with the guidance of a certain Missionary Priest, Rev. Father Gerard Treinekins, M.S.C. and other Redemptorist Fathers in order to answer and counter the attack of the aforesaid Christian denominations. In the meantime, their studies and meetings were interrupted when the second world war broke out. But in 1945, when the war was over, these laymen continued their profound activities even more actively. Some of these laymen became the recipients of the Papal Awards- PRO ECCLESIA ET PONTIFICE, one of them, is the present CFD National Scripture Consultant, Brother Socrates C. Fernandez of Talisay City, Archdiocese of Cebu.

In 1963, a certain lawyer named Mel Caumeran who had studied apologetics joined the said group of laymen calling themselves as Cebu Catholic Faith Defenders but finally decided to formally register their group with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 3, 1963 as Catholic Faith Defenders, Inc.

Its Purpose

The Constitution and By-Laws of the organization provides the following primary purposes of the CFD, to wit:

a. To help the Church in the propagation of the Gospel;
b. To study the doctrines, dogmas, precepts and traditions of the Church;
c. To uphold and defend, in writing and in speech, the Catholic faith from attacks and denunciations, whether from within or from without;
d. To conduct Bible studies, catechetical instructions, seminars, rallies, prayer meetings, and other religious activities;
e. To enhance the faith of the Catholics by conducting a continuing study of the Catholic religion with emphasis on the Holy Scriptures;
f. To render assistance to the parishes in the formation and development of the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC);
g. To render moral and spiritual aid to the poor and the needy; and
h. To promote for the sanctification of its members.

The CFD's Apostolate

The CFD's focus of its apostolate is on the study of the correct theological and philosophical interpretation of the Catholic teachings, dogmas and practices of the church with emphasis on the Holy Scripture, Holy Traditions, Church History and Conciliar Documents, and Church Magisterium. In short, apologetics, a basic study of the defense of the Catholic Faith. As such, it is readily admitted, that the CFD's apostolate is so negligible vis-a-vis the entire Biblical apostolate. It is a small portion of the biblical studies just enough for the faithful to be informed of his faith so he can willingly and ably explain it to his family, group of families (BEC) and to our separated brethren.

Its On-going Areas of Concerned

The following on-going activities of the CFD are focused on these areas.

1. Bible study and sharing in the small family groups (BEC).
2. Bible studies/seminars in the chapel and parish levels.
3.Bible studies/seminars on sectoral groups, such as, but not limited to, businessman, professionals, government employees, youths and students.
4. Bible studies/seminars in jails and correctional centers of the government.
5. Bible studies on radios, TV's and giving informations through the CFD's magazine and other printed materials.

Aside from its focused apostolate, the CFD also involved in the dialogue with our separated brethren in the areas of justice, peace, ecology and drug addictions. It may also engage in a theological dialogue with these brethren but the same have been conducted with care, love, humility and meekness, the atmosphere of a genuine ecumenism. Basing on its experiences, a successful ecumenism could be attained if the Catholic participant in the dialogue has these requisite qualities (Commentary on the Decree On Ecumenism, by: Cardinal William Conway, of Armagh, Ireland, November 26, 1963):

1. Sanctity of one's life (change of heart)
2. Knowledge of the theological and historical outlook of our separated brethren.
3. Ecumenical spirit of love, charity and humility towards them.
4. Clear knowledge of the Catholic faith which is the most effective instrument.

Why defend the Catholic Faith?

The church is very much aware, as embodied in various documents herein quoted, that there are attacks and distortions of her teachings from within or from without. Hence, she decreed her children to give a defense through the Bible, traditions and Church Magisterium.

We wish to rectify the misconceptions of some catholic faithful and church leaders alike, that to defend the faith is equals a debate, hence, absolutely, unacceptable by virtue of the church's ecumenical movement. While it is readily admitted that debate is part of the CFD's apostolate, it is only availed of as the last resort. The Catholic faithful is told to engage in theological dialogue with our separated brethren without necessarily having a debate, if he has the needed qualifications. We are told that in the dialogue, "It is, of course, essential that the (catholic) doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety" (Decree on Ecumenism, Chapter 2, par. 11). But the principle the CFD espousing, is to refrain from engaging unnecessary and unfruitful debate. However, if debate is the only way to share the truth to our separated brethren, then we will be forced to defend the Catholic faith in such a public forum. We still firmly believed that strengthening our own fold, is in itself a defense. Hence, what is needed of the time, is to conduct a massive Bible seminars or studies for the catholic to inform and educate them of the rudiments of their faith. A well informed catholic of his own faith, is a defender of his own rights.

The CFD's Expectations to Attain

1. Self reconciliation to God - a well informed catholic shall be reconciled to God from his erroneous mode of worship and perception about Him through the sacrament of confession. Peace to himself follows.
2. Reconciliation among the members of the family - we are aware that there are families with varied religious belief within its members. Such a situation posses a great problem of the parents to the children or vice-versa. With the thorough understanding of the catholic faith, the family with conflicting beliefs shall now be finally resolved. Justice to the catholic members of that family shall now be attained of. No more attacks to his faith. There shall be reconciliation among the members in matters of their faith. Peace again shall reign.
3. Reconciliation between us and our separated brethren. If the catholic faith is shared to our non-catholic brethren in such a way that they can fully understand it, the natural tendency is for them to be re/converted to the Catholic Church. Attacks and denunciations of the Catholic teachings and practices shall be ultimately be stopped. Hence, the long injustice committed by these brethren of ours against the Catholic shall now be given its due. Consequently, they shall be reconciled with the Catholic Church, their Mother Church. Finally there shall be peace among us believers.

Attainment of Social Justice

As stated, the CFD apostolate is extended up the people behind bars.

It is of public knowledge that many of our brethren inside the jails are of no moment being considered criminals. Some of them are innocent, just victims of the circumstances. With the CFD's apostolate, the members of the CFD who are lawyers, prosecutors and even judge are now seeing to it that these people could be provided social justice. We handled the cases up to its final resolution, for free.

Also with our dialogue with other religious groups on justice, peace and ecology, we can arrive common stand in solving this crisis in our midst.

Church documents that inspired the CFD's formation, existence and its present apostolate:

A. From the Code of Canon Law:

1. Canon 204, Par.1-"Christ faithful are those who, since they are incorporated into Crist through baptism, are constituted the people of God. For this reason they participate in their own way in priestly, Prophetic and Kingly office of Christ.

2. Cannon 229, 1- in relation with cannon 298-1 "By private agreement among themselves, Christ faithful have right to constitute association ... to promote worship or Cristian teaching"

3. Cannon 229, Par.1- "Lay people have the duty and the right to acquire the knowledge of Christian Teaching ... so that they may be able to live according to this teaching, to PROCLAIM IT and if necessary TO DEFEND IT."

B. From the Encyclical Letters - ( ESPIRITUS PARACLITUS) 0f the Pope Benedict XV dated September 15, 1920

"Since the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, had bestowed the Scriptures on the human race for their instruction in Divine things ... we, Vulnerable Brethren, with Saint Jerome as our guide, never desist from urging the faithful to read daily the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles... but what is the goal of such study? First, that from the Bible pages we learn spiritual perfection, Second, it is from the Bible that we gather confirmations and illustrations of any particular doctrine we wish to defend."

C. From Decrees of the Vatican Council II

1. "The Catholic Faith must be explained more profoundly and precisely, in such a way and in such terms as our separated brethren can also understand it"
(Decree on Ecumenism, Chapter 2, part.1)
2. "In regard to the apostolate for evangelizing and sanctifying men, the laity must be specially formed to engaged in the conversation with others, (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Chapter VI, Par. 31-A)
3."And so apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warned the faithful ... to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 3)." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Revelation, Chapter II, Part 8)
4."The Sacred Synod earnestly and specially urges all Christian faithful especially religious to learn by frequent reading and careful study of the Divine Scriptures the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ." (Phil 3:8) "for ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." (Dogmatic Cons. on Divine Revelation, Chapter 6, par 25).

D. Acts and Decrees of The 2nd Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II, 1991)

1. "Their (fundamentalist) coming in great numbers to our shores in recent years, with the avowed aimed of "evangelizing" the Filipinos has created a special problem for the Church. Their persistence, their use of radio, TV and print media, their attacks on catholic teachings and practices, especially against Marain devotion and the use of religious statues, have won over a
number of Catholic to their ranks. ( Decree No. 219)

2. "Faced with these realities, there is a need of widespread catechesis and apologetics. We need not to apologize for apologetic catechesis. Since birth, Christianity has been subject to attacks from it has had to defend itself. Jesus had to answer objections to His teachings, as the Gospels testify... Apologetics has always been part of the pastoral and theological tradition of the Church. We must today be willing and able to defend our teaching in public fora, and we need to equip the faithful so that they can defend their faith. Parish Priest must encourage and support the training of lay catholic faith defenders."

E. From the Holy Bible

1. A need for a diligent reading of the scripture for preaching and teaching the people.
(1 Tim. 4:13)
2. The word of God is a lamp of the feet and the light to my path. (Psalms 118:105)
3. Saint Paul said: "... I am appointed as defender of the Gospel" (Philippians 1:16)
4. Be ready to defend your faith (1 Pet. 3:15)

F. From the Final Statement and Recommendations for the Delegates to the
First National Bible Congress, (Manila, Philippines)
November 15-19 1989

"Because the Bible speaks to us of the God of Love who wills all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), we will relate in a spirit of a dialogue with other Christians and with brothers and sisters of other living faiths, while preserving and defending our catholic identity (Recom. No. 14)

Inspired by the spirit of the afore quoted church documents, including that of the Holy Scriptures, the CFDs shall continue its apostolate under the guiding arms of the Church Magisterium and modern biblical scholarship with end in view of fostering unity among Divine believers through the profound understanding of the Catholic Faith. We have also to keep in mind that in pursuing this goal, the same shall be exercised with due care, love and genuine ecumenism.