My First ‘Persona non Grata’ (at least from a Cardinal)

Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of Cebu would like to have me declared ‘persona non grata’ for my story Blood Ivory: Ivory Worship.  The Cardinal suggests I lied about my interest in religious devotion. He is mistaken. I studied this topic and interviewed many people to help me understand the context for venerating holy images regardless of whether they were ivory. This was an honest interest in Filipino culture and is reflected in the story and here. No word yet how Cardinal Vidal would treat Monsignor Cristobal Garcia, the alleged pedophile and ivory aficionado featured in Blood Ivory whom Vidal promoted to Monsignor and made a leader in an archdiocese of 4 million Catholics, knowing Garcia’s past.  If that isn’t a lie of omission I don’t know what is.

Cardinal Vidal and Monsignor Garcia during the  Installation of Archbishop Jose S. Palma, 2011 C. Bryan Christy

“‘Of course I have a lot of things to explain,'” Vidal tells the Cebu paper today regarding Garcia. “‘Even if the Holy See will ask me about it, I have here the documents,’ Vidal said.”  Cardinal Vidal and Archbishop Palma are soon to be on their way to Rome for the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod.  I wonder what the soon-to-be saint would think.

15 thoughts on “My First ‘Persona non Grata’ (at least from a Cardinal)

    • We Cebuano Catholics are thankful for your article. What you wrote did not only save elephants but also exposed the sacrilegious practice of wrapping Holy icons in “stinky underwear “, and the malicious practice of cuddling perverts at the expense of the Church, especially the Catholic youths. Whoever made this man his protege should also repent and be ashamed of himself.

  1. Good day! I am Marigold Lebumfacil, I’m a Cebu-based journalist. We are including this post in our article today. Is it okay if I will ask few more questions from you?

  2. Nothing wrong with your article but here are just some points that need to be addressed and I hope you answer them point-by-point:

    1.) Do you really have to mention the word “pedophile”? Do you really have to dig up Monsignor Garcia’s sexual abuse case nearly 30 years ago? What is its relation with the issue about the ivory?

    This is very unfair for the Monsignor because a settlement was already made for what he had done in the past. Ever since that incident nearly 30 years ago, there were no more recorded cases against him. This means that he has already moved on and reformed his life and yet you tried to reverse the wheel again.

    Do you really have to dig up old wounds? Reopen the past and add more insult to injury?

    2.) The people you interviewed including some of my friends told me that your reason for interviewing them is about the devotion to the Santo Nino, the Sinulog, etc.

    They felt deceived that you were up to something else. This I guess totally makes your piece quite unreliable because you gathered information or data which were taken out of context. You did not even know if the Monsignor was telling you a humour or not when he told you to wrap the ivory in underwear and put ketchup in it.

    Think about this, are the U.S. customs really that stupid to be fooled?

    Monsignor Garcia is banned from entering the United States because of what happened 30 years ago so why would he smuggle his ivory statuettes there? What business does he have in the U.S? He has not been in the United States for nearly three decades.

    Just imagine, you are talking to a group of people. You are all laughing, telling jokes, satires, etc. And then whatever you heard you write it down into an article and make a judgement about a particular person. Is this the way it is in investigative journalism?

    If one is a good writer for a prestigious institution like the National Geographic, then surely there is no reason to resort to dirty tactics just to get “reliable” information.

    • 1. Because his being a pedophile is a fact. Hindi nababago ng lumipas na panahon ang katotohan. Bahid ang tawag dun.

      2. Kung titimbangin, dahil sa expose ni Bryan Christy, nailantad ang sindikato at mga kasabwat nito sa ivory smuggling sa Pilipinas at sa buong mundo.

      • Thank you for your comment, Juan. For my convenience I ask that anyone responding to Juan or to other posts here please comment in English.

    • Question to Jeremy. Would you think if Mr Christy here told all the persons he interviewed that he is making an article on illegal ivory trade will they still give the same answer? How can you make an article of an illicit and underground trade if you will not make any disguise? Will a person sell illegal drugs to a police officer knowing that he will be caught after?

    • I see nothing wrong with what the author has done.

      [1] Please don’t curse the light for exposing the filth. I see nothing wrong with the inclusion of the person’s sexual past. If you think it was out of topic, well, I would have appreciated it if the author dedicates an entire topic on the monsignor’s past. Doing so will save the world.

      [2] Why don’t you tell the monsignor to be responsible with his statements instead of blaming a journalist for exposing he just heard.

      [3] To Christy, please be assured that a great majority of Filipino Catholics are happy with this expose. We support you! Good job and shame on those pretentious fools! Catholic Clergy who are only good at usurping the Mother Church.

  3. Pingback: The sad thing about the Church « Derdo's Weblog

  4. Good and awakening story to Filipinos. You shake the Catholics in the Philippines. Good Job on what you did.

    What make a Filipino mad or what made those you interviewed mad is you told a lie to them to get your story.

    • Thank you very much, “JR” (If only Jose Rizal were around to lead on this issue!) I very honestly wanted to know about devotion as expressed through veneration of images and I spent many months to learn about it and talk to people about it. It is unfortunate that some have misconstrued this. You can read more here.

      • Popular religiousity is part of the spirit, way of life and belief systems of any particular Faith Tradition. But the experience and journey towards any religious expressions should not be done at expense of killing Elephants, part of God’s beautiful creation. I am a devotee of Santo Nino, but I think it will be sinful on my part if I were to have an Image of the Infant Jesus made of Ivory. The Gospel story tells about the Infant Jesus who was born n a Manger. But as devotion is personal, well, this is my personal belief. I call on my brother priests and other devotees, as well as other Faith Traditions who uses Ivory for their religious objects to STOP the trade. Let us continue our Faith expressions, but not at the expense of using Ivories that came from smugglers who killed thousands of elephant. It is not only a Crime, but also Sinful. Fr. Arnold M. Abelardo, cmf.

  5. sad to say but there are many Filipinos who choose to be “blind” and “deaf” to a wrongdoing. thank you for bringing the truth out in the open. there are many of us as well who choose to see and to listen.

  6. Thank you for your article, and thank you for waking and shaking people up. Wanting to declare you persona non grata is too much (just vanity and a little too much ego coming from the bishop). I, for one, would love to invite you over and have coffee with you and talk some more about this blood ivory thing. I don’t think you used deception, I use pretty much the same “tactics” to get information, too. Kudos to you and again, thank you.

  7. I admire what you did to expose such atrocities that happen right under the nose of Philippine authorities. It takes someone from the outside to stir things up and get our local authorities to get their acts together. I really am disappointed by the hypocrisy of Cardinal Vidal and his cohorts to cover up the truth. Such a shame for a religious leader who is supposed to safeguard the moral well being of the Catholics. Only an idiot will declare you persona -non-grata.

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