|Priest linked to ivory smuggling|
Catholic News ServiceA National Geographic magazine cover story identifies a Philippine Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse in the United States as fueling his country’s illegal trade in ivory.
Msgr. Cristobal Garcia, director of worship for the Archdiocese of Cebu, Philippines, had been accused of child sex abuse more than two decades ago but is still serving in priestly ministry.
The magazine piece highlights Msgr. Garcia’s extensive ivory religious icon collection and quotes him giving tips on how to smuggle ivory into the Philippines. It also included details of the sexual abuse complaint against him from the 1980s, when he served as a Dominican priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He was expelled from the Dominicans and returned to the Philippines.
The Vatican had ordered Msgr. Garcia suspended from priestly ministry months ago while he is investigated on the charges.
The struggle to eradicate ivory smuggling is deadly. In the first six months of this year, 23 poachers were killed in Kenya. People are killed every year protecting elephants.