This didn't happen overnight....but, first, let's save the house on fire!
The house of CFC appears to be floundering and on fire. The cracks seen today are signs and symptoms of several historical causes. My personal hypothesis is that this could be mainly caused by CFCs aggressive diversification into many causes which competed for the same pool of limited and even declining human and financial resources.
However, the mandate of the hour is to save the house from being consumed by the fire. There is a time and place for diagnosing and debating CFC's problems which evolved over time.
We have a crisis situation...
CFC is headed towards a three-way break: FPs group, Council, Quit both FP and Council. The fall-out in terms of membership, financials, CFC copyrights, credibility of GK to external partners, etc. can be quite sticky and enormous.
We have a case where a failed past leader is trying to reclaim his position by doing the following key things:
- He is the only one speaking from his group, and he gets the messages out fast (some are quite unbecoming but the message gets out fast just the same). In a crisis situation, whoever grabs the microphone first and speaks the loudest usually gains the upperhand.
- His message is simple—let's go back to the basics of CFC. This is an attractive message to people who are confused, exhausted, and not spiritually growing—there are many of these in the community, I think.
- The brunt of his target is GK. Unfortunately, GK directly or indirectly through the Council is not talking and firing back. Again, whoever grabs the microphone and speaks the loudest during a crisis, may score more.
- The failed past leader is a renegade but he has seized the communications initiative and has made the legitimate Council defensive in its response (when it should be the other way around)
- The failed past leader has gained the mantle of legitimacy through the support of some bishops which allowed him to reposition CFC as not the true one, and that the Council being a legal body should be subservient to the spiritual which his new group will restore.
What are the options of the Council?
Right now, a great majority of our brethren are confused, anxious, tired and disappointed. Full-time workers especially are worried about losing their calling and their jobs. This is a very fertile ground for the group that has speed and has a clear, singular and coherent message and voice to take root.
Right now, the messages of the Council seem defensive, a bit fragmented and too detailed with the chronology of events. The Council needs to execute with more speed using the organizational resources in its disposal (Fyi, I am heading a ministry but nobody has ever contacted me for talking points or strategy which I can use to communicate to my team).
In a crisis situation, speed, clarity, authoritativeness of messages and visibility of key leaders are critical. A few things to consider:
- Should the Council just leave it to members to decide on which camp to join? FPs camp is campaigning hard to attract members for a "restored" CFC. The Council cannot afford to let this fluidity and tentativeness gain a life of its own over a long period of time.
- The Council should do as much if not better in order to mitigate loss of membership. The Council should drive the membership agenda, and not leave it to chance. Presently, a "people power" of emails (Fulfillingthemandate website) has emerged to fill a vacuum.
- Talk regularly and directly to full-time workers. All the feedback I am hearing is that they are at a loss and no one is talking to them.
- The Council can convene an ad hoc Crisis Team which will be constituted by the Council plus 2-4 representatives of the BOE to determine the end game of this crisis, quickly mobilize messages and field leaders. A smaller action group is ideal for speed and agility.
- The starting point of this is for the Council to formulate a simple, truthful and easy-to-understand story of the situation
- Defend GK
- Release regular messages to the community from one person—Joe Tale. These messages should provide positive and reassuring themes—when do we end this crisis, what we aim to achieve by what date, celebrate small wins of ministries.
- Provide leaders with Frequently Asked Questions/Answers to ensure consistent messaging to members.
- Joe Tale and Council members have to be visible in key strategic areas. Concentrate on Manila, key cities, major foreign mission areas.
- Hold a dialogue with FP's group to determine the end game and the modus vivendi for both groups—ceasefire on attacks should be first in the agenda.
- Accelerate the holding of the Congress from October, 2007, but the Council needs to determine the end game and the agenda of the Congress.
How can we simplify the story of CFCs crisis?
Everyone is asking—what happened, why, how, when? The Council has to have a simple and consistently easy to tell story because people have an attention span of only about 10 minutes—or even less now because they are tired and confused. The story could be written in the form of a "Question and Answer" format in written form which will be verbally articulated by leaders in assemblies. So far, the feedback I have been getting is that leaders walk away from briefing meetings not having a firm take away of the messages.
Here is my take of the situation in a simple true story...
A past CFC leader, FP, who owned up to his leadership failure by resigning together with TM and LA, now wants to reclaim his leadership position so he can redirect the course of CFC and GK. In his view, GK has lost its spiritual dimension and is eroding CFC.
At first, he wanted to reclaim his power by regaining his seat at the Council in a legitimate way through an interim Council arrangement for which he was able to get the support of some bishops. The prospect of dialogue and reconciliation with key players is dim because of two personal reasons—loss of friendship between FP and TM as the latter's reputation, characer and family were attacked by people close to FP who are not happy with the honor that TM has been reaping out of GKs success, and discoveries of anomalies at the HO allegedly associated with LA and other resigned leaders in the FP group.
While dialoguing with CFC leaders in an effort to reclaim his leadership position through reconciliation and through the CFC Council route, FPs group had a secret parallel effort—convince 3 bishops to support their agenda to split CFC and GK. This effort was initiated well before the CFC Council election in June.
Failing to regain his leadership position through the CFC Council route, FP discredited the newly elected Council and BOE as having been unfairly nominated and elected and has asked them to resign.
FP seized the initiative to breakaway from CFC to form a new group where he will be the top leader. On account of the support he gained from 3 bishops, FP is arguing that his group is faithful to the original CFC spiritual mission and not the Council which is merely a legal entity.
The Council, on the other hand, has done the following things, thus far:
- Governed the community according to our traditions and by-laws and has led the community back to normalcy after the resignation of the 3 Council members thru the recent fair and honest election of the new Council and BOE.
- Installed new leaders to ensure consistency of commitment to our global mission and vision.
- Conducting regular dialogues with bishops for spiritual guidance and inputs. Based on our Vatican-approved statutes, bishops will provide guidance on spiritual direction and content of programs, but should not interfere with organizational matters.
- Initiated a query into the reported anomalies at the HO in accordance with due process and respect for people.
- Has formed a task force to improve the operations of the HO.
- Has called for a Pastoral Congress in October, 2007, to set direction for future endeavors
- other key initiatives