Church to conduct inventory of ivory icons-A A +A
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
CEBU CITY -- The Cebu Archdiocese will be conducting an inventory of ivory artifacts now in the custody of the Cebu churches and investigate if these were acquired before or after the ban on ivory.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said in a statement "Let it be made clear that the Church supports the ban on ivory as it is consistent with her doctrine on stewardship of creation."
Palma called a press conference Wednesday at the Archbishop's Palace to explain the Church's position on the report published by Bryan Christy of the National Geographic on "Ivory Worship" or the use of elephant tusks as religious statues.
The Archbishop said the Church does not condone ivory smuggling or other illegal activities, although in the past, ivory was one of the materials used in the adornment of liturgical worship. While these ivory artifacts crafted long before the ban are considered the cultural heritage of the Church, in no way does she encourage the use of ivory for new implements."
"The Church is also aware of the gravity of the crime of pederasty. In recent pronouncements, the Church has stated her regret for the failure to address the problem in a more decisive and effective way. Cultural practices have contributed to the misunderstanding of the problem," Palma further stated.
On the case involving Monsignor Cristobal Garcia in the smuggling of ivory, Palma said, "The account given by National Geographic Magazine needs to be assessed as to its veracity, considering that the article smacks of bias against religious practices."
"The principles stated above should guide us in resolving the matter concerning the alleged involvement of Msgr. Cristobal Garcia in the illegal ivory trade, always bearing in mind the right of the person concerned for fair and just hearing," Palma added.
As of this posting, the Church has suspended Garcia who is now confined in a hospital in Manila due to diabetes and hypertension.
Palma also clarified that the case involving Garcia's past has already been elevated to the Vatican and it has initiated the investigation into it long before the ivory controversy came out.
The monsignor, according to NatGeo report, was dismissed as a priest of St. Dominic's of Los Angeles, California in mid-1980's after being accused of sexual abuse by an altar boy in his early teens.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop clarified the claims made by Christy on the supposed perception of the religious icons among Filipinos.
"While it is true that icons are venerated by us because through them we are able to tangibly express our faith in God and our devotion to the saints, in no way does the Church teach that these icons are in fact God Himself or the saints themselves. Any encouragement promoting such idolatry is contrary to Church belief and must be purified," Palma explained. (Mildred V. Galarpe/Jay Ann Clamohoy/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 26, 2012.