Multiple stories running today out of the Philippines on the country’s ivory trade, the role of certain priests in the trade, ivory dealers in Manila’s religious district, Tayuman, and commitments to prosecute “Blood Ivory” traders. Amazingly, one priest is saying that Msgr. Garcia’s ivory collection is all centuries old (it’s not). Encouragingly, another is saying that ivory is no long an appropriate medium for Catholics to express their devotion. For the record, we do not report that Cebu is the center of the country’s ivory trade, but rather that it is the origin of Catholicism in the Philippines, including devotion to carved images. There are certainly prominent ivory collectors there, too. The center of the PH ivory trade is Manila.
Perhaps the most interesting is this quote from an employee in the Archdiocese of Cebu’s secretariat, who suggests I am the devil making his presence felt:
Margie Matheu of the Archdiocese of Cebu’s secretariat, said the timing of the magazine article was suspicious. “Every writer has his own style of writing and gathering information. It’s difficult to discern his intentions. This can only be part of the devil’s machinations in his desire to divert and threaten the spiritual prepration for the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod. He’s making his presence felt,” Matheu said.
…Sought for comment, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma last night said he would answer the allegations in a press conference today or tomorrow. “I know the issue. I will address it,” he told Cebu Daily News who showed him a printout of the online article [Blood Ivory]. The magazine is not yet on sale in newsstands but early copies are already in the hands of subscribers and posted on the Internet.
This is an excellent opportunity for the relatively new archbishop to make a positive change. Meanwhile, environment lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. has called for an investigation regarding wildlife exploitation.
In its 3-part coverage of Blood Ivory out today, the Philippine Daily Inquirer digs further. Read the excellent lead story PH in Illegal Ivory Trade and a related story Priest Linked to Sex Abuse in US, Expelled by Dominicans (about Msgr. Cristobal Garcia). The Inquirer also provides some great background on past ivory seizures and storeroom thefts here.