Palma: Church doesn’t condone trade in ivory-A A +A
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
CEBU CITY (Updated) – Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said the Catholic Church does not condone killing animals to make their parts into religious items, like taking the tusks of elephants and carving these into ivory statues.
“Of course, we are saddened by the news Cebu was identified as a source of the ivory trade,” Palma told Sun.Star Cebu.
He was referring to a National Geographic magazine article, “Blood Ivory”, where the writer, Bryan Christy, includes a lengthy interview with Msgr. Cristobal Garcia, the Archdiocesan Commission on Worship chairman.
Palma, who is also the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president, said he recently signed up with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to transfer an elephant from the Manila Zoo to Thailand, where it can be provided with better care and treatment.
Palma is meeting the media today, Wednesday, to deliver a statement on the issue. He also lamented that Msgr. Garcia, who is on sick leave and is confined in a hospital in Manila, has been dragged into the controversy.
“The ivory trade is bad. Elephants are killed just for their ivory tusks,” said historian Trizer Mansueto, who pointed out that the article focuses on elephant conservation.
The National Geographic article, its cover piece for the October issue, states that thousands of elephants are butchered every year for their ivory tusks that are carved into religious objects, including the most-prized Sto. Niño in the Philippines.
At the time the story was published online, Msgr. Garcia had already been on leave from his posts in the archdiocese for health reasons.
The worship commission post left by Garcia, who is on leave for two months, is currently filled in an acting capacity by Fr. Glen Guanzon and Fr. Expedito Torrevillas.
Monsignor Garcia’s name no longer appears in the latest edition of Ang Bag-ong Lungsoranon, the official newsletter of the Cebu archdiocese, where he used to serve as finance officer.
The worship commission leadership, a source said, would be handled by a young priest after the canonization rites of Blessed Pedro Calungsod next month.
In a separate interview, iconographer Louie Nacorda said he is not aware of the existence of an active ivory trade in Cebu.
“I don’t know what trade he (the writer) is talking about!” Nacorda said, adding that ivory images in Cebu come from Manila.
A collector of antiques and religious icons, he added that he has not met anyone involved in selling ivory in Cebu, except the traders in Manila.
Mansueto said icons made of ivory are brought to Cebu from Manila. “There was a time when the stealing of ivory icons in Cebu was rampant; that was in the 1980s and the 1990s,” he added.
He explained that the tradition of religious icons made of ivory came from India and China, where gods and goddesses were made using the material.
Mansueto said ivory was often chosen for its beauty and its durability; it lasts longer than wood.
However, the ivory trade has been banned since 1989. (BAP/Sunnex)