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.

World Responding to PH Catholic Ivory Scandal

Priest Investigated in Ivory-Smuggling Inquiry in Philippines

By FLOYD WHALEY, New York Times

MANILA — Philippine law enforcement officials said on Wednesday that they were investigating whether a senior priest in the Roman Catholic Church was involved in the smuggling of elephant ivory to feed the country’s passion for religious icons.

The investigation was prompted by an article in the October issue of National Geographic magazine that…

The Catholic News Service runs this story, which has already garnered important response from the midwest assoc director of SNAP. Also in the US, the Washington Post has its own recap in Business.

Papers, columnists, and blogs in the Philippines range in reaction to Blood Ivory’s expose from “it’s about time” to “why pick on us?” to this is “anti-Catholic bias” to this is the work of the devil

These last reactions, some of which come from the Archdiocese of Cebu and even from the Archbishop, are the most interesting.  If there is a devil at work in the world wouldn’t he come down on the side of pedophiles or elephant poachers?

Monsignor Garcia Stripped of Titles, Suspended

Reports today from Manila that the Vatican has stripped ivory collector Monsignor Cristobal Garcia of his positions in the Archdiocese of Cebu and suspended him while the Vatican investigates accusations he molested altar boys 25 years ago in the United States.  These allegations have been known to the Vatican and the Church establishment in Cebu for nearly a quarter century, not least because of the excellent 2005 reporting of Brooks Egerton of the Dallas Morning News and his “Runaway Priests: Hiding in Plain Sight” series.  But it was at a press conference today in response to Blood Ivory, entitled “Ivory Worship and Monsignor Cris Garcia” that the archbishop announced the Monsignor’s ouster.  Some harsh words were added about me including