“CBCP: Priest in ivory smuggling mess deserves a fair and just hearing” & related article

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GMA News (“The Go-To Site for Filipinos Everywhere”)

September 26, 2012 6:08pm

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma on Wednesday said that he supports an investigation into Msgr. Cristobal Garcia’s alleged involvement in ivory smuggling.

However, he added in an article posted Wednesday afternoon on the CBCP news site that Garcia deserves a “fair and just hearing.”

A National Geographic Magazine report written by Brian Christy and titled “Ivory Worship” called Garcia “one of the best known ivory collectors in the Philippines.” The story further alleged that the Catholic priest shared his know-how in ivory smuggling.

However, Palma said that the National Geographic story “needs to be assessed as to its veracity, considering that the article smacks of bias against religious practices.”

But if the allegations against Garcia are proven, Palma said he would not tolerate misdeeds in Cebu’s clergy. “Why will I defend somebody if he committed something illegal?”

Palma also corrected the article’s assertions regarding Filipino Catholics’ view on religious icons.

“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,” he explained.

“Any encouragement promoting such idolatry is contrary to Church belief and must be purified,” he added.

Meanwhile, tweets from newspaper the Cebu Daily News said Palma felt betrayed by Christy who misrepresented the article as a story on Cebuanos’ devotion to the Sto. Niño.

The archbishop said he too was interviewed, but that the material did not appear in the article.

The Cebu Daily News reported that Garcia is currently confined in a Makati hospital.

Support for ban on ivory

Palma also said the Catholic Church supports the ban on the ivory trade “as it is consistent with her doctrine on stewardship of creation.”

The CBCP, said Palma, is a co-signatory of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) “Free Mali” campaign, which endeavors to send an elephant at the Manila Zoo to a sanctuary.

Furthermore, he said the church does not condone ivory smuggling or other illegal activities,  though ivory was one of the materials used in the adornment of liturgical worship in the past.

While ivory artifacts crafted long before the ban are considered the Church’s cultural heritage, the Church does not encourage the use of ivory for new icons.

Sexual abuse

As for the National Geographic report’s claim that Garcia sexually abused a teenage altar boy and was expelled from the Dominican Order while he was a priest in Los Angeles, California, Palma said the Vatican is already looking into it.

Palma said Garcia’s case had been elevated to the Vatican, which initiated an investigation long before the present controversy erupted.

He added the Church is 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. — Patricia Denise Chiu/DVM, GMA News

____________________________

 

Palma urges fair trial on priest tagged in ivory smuggling

CBCP

26 September 2012

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma

MANILA, Sept. 26, 2012— Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma is supporting an investigation against one of his priests who was caught in a controversy involving ivory smuggling in the country.

Palma, who is currently the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said that he had no qualms about any probe for Monsignor Cristobal Garcia to clear his name.

Responding to allegations against Garcia, known for his collections of religious icons carved from ivory, Palma said the priest deserves a ‘fair and just hearing.’

The archbishop said he will not tolerate misdeeds among Cebu clergy if allegations against them are proven true.

“Why will I defend somebody if he committed something illegal?” Palma said.

He also clarified that the Catholic Church supports the ban on ivory, “as it is consistent with her doctrine on stewardship of creation.”

Palma noted that he himself is a co-signatory on People for Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) “Free Mali” campaign, which is fighting to get Mali (the elephant at the Manila Zoo), sent to a sanctuary.

The church, he emphasized, 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,” he said.

In the National Geographic report, it mentioned that Garcia while serving as a priest in Los Angeles, California sexually abused an altar boy in his early teens and was expelled from the Dominican Order.

Msgr. Cristobal Garcia

“Back in the Philippines, he was promoted to monsignor and made chairman of the Cebu’s Archdiocesan Commission on Worship,” part of the article, written by Bryan Christy, read.

However, Palma said that Garcia’s case has been elevated to the Vatican, which initiated an investigation long before the present controversy erupted.

The Church is also aware of the gravity of the crime of pederasty, he said.

In recent pronouncements, according to him, the Church has stated her regret for the failure to address the problem in a more decisive and effective way.

“The principles stated above should guide us in resolving the matter concerning the alleged involvement of Msgr. Garcia in the illegal ivory trade, always bearing in mind the right of the person concerned for a fair and just hearing,” he 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,” he added.

The ranking church official also clarified Christy’s claim on the supposed perception of the religious icons among Filipino Catholics.

“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,” Palma explained.

“Any encouragement promoting such idolatry is contrary to Church belief and must be purified,” he said. [RL/CBCPNews]

5 Responses to “CBCP: Priest in ivory smuggling mess deserves a fair and just hearing” & related article

  1. Sylvia says:

    Here we go.  deflection…

    The Archbishop of Cebu and President of the  Philippines Catholic Conference of Bishops is accusing Brian Cristy, author of the National Geographic expose at the heart of this uproar,  of “bias against religious practices.”

    Indeed, according to Archbishop Palma, the National Geographic article:

    “needs to be assessed as to its veracity, considering that the article smacks of bias against religious practices.”

    Yes, indeed, every article must be assessed as to its veracity.  Ditto everything said by Church officials when it comes to recycled molesters who have found long-term safe harbour in their dioceses.

    I may be mistaken but now think that the Vatican was probably pulled into this at the 11th hour after Archbishop Palma was interviewed by Brian Christy.  During the interview Christy probably raised the matter of Monsignor Garcia’s abuse of those boys in the States, and the Archbishop quickly swung into action. How else explain the Vatican’s belated interest in ‘investigating’  Garcia?

    As for the Archbishop’s claim that “in no way does the Church teach that these icons are in fact God Himself or the saints themselves,”  that is true.  The Church teaches no such thing.  But that, as the archbishop no doubts realizes,  does not negate some of  the faithful falling sway to such beliefs.  It may well be time for purification in the Archdiocese of Cebu.

  2. Sylvia says:

    I just checked the Archdiocese of Cebu website.  Monsignor Garcia was born 03 June 1951.  He was ordained 24 September 1982.  That means he was barely ordained when he was molesting those boys in the States.

    I can as yet find no statement from the Archbishop advising that Monsignor Garcia was stripped of his faculties.  Perhaps it was done very quietly?

  3. Mark Silverbird says:

    You know what upsets me most about this is that this is Brother Stanley Villavicencio’s spiritual director. Why would Jesus choose such a person to be the spiritual director of a person who would be a major component of Divine Mercy? Why?

    Let’s take a look at Sister Faustina. Was Father Sopocko ever implicated in any major scandals? No. So why would Brother Stanley’s spiritual director be implicated in such a scandal unless the devil always had a handle on the mission from the very beginning.

    So Cris Garcia is not really a holy man. He is a priest of GOD, but he is not a holy man. AND, you can’t tell me that the men of the church did not know Cris was who he was. They knew!!! So people want to say that there are good men in the church. Most of the time, you can always tell what a a company is like by who runs it. Jesus is in every tabernacle of every Church, I know this to be a fact, but with Brother Stanley, how this is going down, if it true that Cris Garcia is who he is, shame, for shame, Jesus is not helping in any way any longer the men of the church, AMEN.

    • 1 abandoned sheep says:

      Mark, you have said it too many times. Once was enough, or do you stutter ?

      • PJ says:

        1AS…I too was wondering this. thanks for pointing it out and you’re not alone. Almost seems like this silver bird is just trying to overburden the website.

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