Secret File on Ivory Collector Priest

Since publication of my story, Blood Ivory: Ivory Worship Catholic Church leaders in Cebu have called me a liar and have suggested I be declared persona non grata for exposing Msgr. Cristobal Garcia’s past and his encouragement of smuggling by those who want ivory religious icons.

Here is the man they defend:

Father Cristobal Garcia: Priest fled to the Philippines and rose in the Church

By Dana Bartholomew, Staff Writer

January 29, 2013

Father Vincent Serpa, pastor of St. Dominic Catholic Church in Eagle Rock, knew he had a problem with Father Cristobal Garcia. He just didn’t know how big.

“A family came to him to report that the associate, Father Cristobal Garcia, was involved in giving cocaine to minors in the parish,” said then-Monsignor Thomas Curry, vicar of clergy for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in a 1988 confidential memo to then-Archbishop Roger M. Mahony, three years after the incident.

“To see if he could find any evidence of this, Father Serpa went into Garcia’s room while he was celebrating Mass and found…Read More

As Court records indicate, Church leaders knew of Garcia’s risk to children from the mid 1980s.  This 1988 LA Times article certainly served notice.

Here are a few more stories worth looking at to get a sense of the coverup in Los Angeles.  The trafficking of ivory and the killing of elephants does not compare in its horror to the harming of children.  If the Church is willing to cover up the former, how reliable are their promises on the latter

The archdiocese’s cover-up, Los Angeles Times


The release of confidential files on 1980s clergy sex abuse in the Los Angeles Archdiocese is the beginning of the end of a long and sordid saga.

January 23, 2013

For years, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles fought to keep secret its confidential files concerning pedophile priests. Hundreds of sex abuse victims hoping for a full accounting of what church leaders knew about the growing scandal and what they did to stop it were rebuffed time and again.

But the cover-up is finally coming to an end. On Monday, a series of memos and letters filed in a civil case confirmed that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and other church leaders plotted to shield pedophile priests rather than turn them over to police and prosecutors.

The documents, which date to 1986 and 1987, show how Mahony and Msgr. Thomas J. Curry, his top advisor on sex abuse cases, discussed strategies to keep priests from coming to the attention of law enforcement….

Los Angeles Archdiocese kept sexual abuse in the shadows, Daily News Los Angeles

Church protected priests accused of child molesting


Thousands of pages of court documents show how the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for decades knowingly shielded more than a dozen priests suspected of child sex abuse.

A Los Angeles News Group special report offers an in-depth look into how and when the church knew about the abuse and chose instead to move accused priests from parish to parish, even allowing the most abusive to move out of the country….


More on Vatican City Ivory Raids

More on the recent raids on Italy’s Ivory shops, from Italian newspaper, La Repubblica:

Per Google translate:

            THE CASE

Blood and ivory near the Vatican is the business of the tusks of elephants

Between the walls that divide the holy city of Rome there is a trade of objects derived from the precious material. The Italian Forestry Corps on Friday seized religious artifacts for 150 thousand euro only in the famous gallery Savelli.


“Blood and Ivory” goes to the Vatican, yes. As he told National Geographic journalist environmental investigations, Bryan Christy, for the walls that divide the Holy City of Rome passes a not insignificant part of the trade of objects derived from the tusks of African elephants. The Italian Forestry Corps, with its operational arm Cites (deals with protected species), last Friday seized religious artifacts for 150 thousand euro in one of the most famous galleries close to the Vatican Walls: the Savelli. Operating since 1898, between St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican has five of external galleries, shops and warehouses for religious objects. In a Cites agents found in elephant ivory pieces also sold 40 000 euro: religious statues hand-carved crosses and rosaries, all in the window from 400 euro. A large part of the material seized, say the investigators, not had documentation certifying that the legal origin (the Washington Agreement and subsequent agreements between individual countries that regulate this delicate trade). The administrator of the Roman gallery, denounced, has assured that the items seized are mostly Continue reading “More on Vatican City Ivory Raids” »

Raid on Vatican, Abruzzo Ivory Shops, Religious Statues Seized

Forestry Department officials in Italy have just raided ivory shops in Vatican City and Abruzzo, seizing ivory religious sculptures. 

Here is a google translate of the press release:

These are artifacts representing religious subjects made of elephant ivory. The cost of goods for sale ranged from 400 to 40,000 euro, for a total value of more than 150 thousand euro

29 Oct 2012. Rome. Statuettes and other precious ivory objects of a religious nature, beautifully sculpted by hand, were seized by agents of the CITES Service of the Central State Forestry Corps of Rome, in an important gallery in Rome at the Vatican Walls. 


The operation is part of a wider system of checks carried out by the Forestry in some shops in the area particularly frequented by international tourists. material seized from Continue reading “Raid on Vatican, Abruzzo Ivory Shops, Religious Statues Seized” »

Pope Petition Proffered

“Ari P.” from Canada in response to Blood Ivory: Ivory Worship has launched this online petition to Pope Benedict XVI calling upon Vatican City to sign the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and end the use of ivory in religious carvings.

Now would seem an opportune time for the Vatican to lead other religions on the issue of ivory trafficking and elephant poaching, and to fortify its stated commitment to the environment. Sign the petition if you agree. Or, start your own initiative.

I have no connection to this effort btw, but if you do undertake a project like this, send me an email and I’ll be happy to post something about it.

‘Persona Non Grata’ Can Be Gratifying

After two weeks of my being savaged by the Archdiocese of Cebu for Blood Ivory: Ivory Worship, culminating (so far) in a suggestion by the country’s Cardinal Ricardo Vidal that I be deemed “persona non grata” and permanently expelled from the Philippines (a designation normally reserved to diplomats and the like) it is extremely gratifying to see comments like these rolling in from Filipino citizens on sites such as

I’ve published a response to the Archdiocese and to Archbishop Jose S. Palma here, which applies as well to his predecessor, Cardinal Vidal.