Don’t bless ivory images, bishop urges fellow priests
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Wednesday urged his fellow prelates to prohibit priests from receiving or blessing religious images made of ivory or any materials taken or derived from protected and endangered species.
“I appeal to my brother bishops of the Philippines to prohibit the clerics from blessing any new statue, image or object of devotion made or crafted from such material as ivory or similar body parts of endangered or protected,” and not to allow such statues or images be used as objects of veneration in their churches, Villegas said in a pastoral guide on poaching, trafficking and decimation of endangered species.
“I propose to my brother bishops to enforce the directive that no donation of any new statue or religious object made from ivory or materials extracted, taken or derived from protected and endangered species shall be accepted and blessed,” he added.
However, he said that those statues and images of ivory and other analogous materials from protected and endangered species already in use prior to the issuance of the pastoral guidance, should be safeguarded, and may remain in use for purposes of devotion and in recognition of their historical value.
“The Catholic Church must do its part. No matter the beauty of a work of art, it cannot justify the slaughter of wildlife, the use of endangered organic forms and the lending of a seal of approval to the threat posed to biodiversity by poachers and traffickers,” Villegas said.
Citing Pope Francis’ acclaimed encyclical on the environment, Villegas said : “Every instance of beauty is a reflection of the infinite beauty of the Creator. We cannot, without offending the Creator, deface his creation.”