Vatican Probes Priest in Alleged Ivory Smuggling

By Dennis Carcamo
September 26, 2012

MANILA, Philippines - A ranking official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday said the Vatican has already initiated a probe into the alleged involvement of a Cebu church official in ivory smuggling.

Based on the article by the National Geographic magazine, Msgr. Cristobal Gracias admitted having acquired some of the religious artifacts made of ivory via smuggling.

"In regard to the matter of Msgr. Garcia's past, the case has been elevated to the Holy See and it has initiated the investigation into it long before the present controversy erupted. I have also fulfilled the Holy See's instructions regarding submission of documents and acting upon related consequences," CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said.

As this developed, the prelate urged the public to refrain in buying religious artifacts or images made of ivory.

The prelate said the Church will not tolerate the wrong doing or illegal act of any member of the clergy.

""Why will I defend somebody kung illegal ang kanyang ginagawa," Archbishop Palma told Church-run Radyo Veritas.

He, however, said no one can blame the antique collectors who acquired the ivory pieces or items 50 years ago when collecting or buying such items was still legal.

"May law na, so we must be law-abiding. Simple lang naman, kasi legal naman before so if they acquired the artifacts many years ago, they're lucky, but now it should be stop," the prelate added.

He stressed that the Catholic Church supports the government's enforcement of the Presidential Decree 1979 and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

He also noted that the Church does not tolerate the culture of idolatry among the faithful.

"We venerate because it helps us to worship.The image of Jesus is not God, the image of Mary is not Mary. The images help us in our religious rites," Archbishop Palma said.


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