The usage of Ivory in churches have been a thing of beauty to decorate the church with art works made out of them (like statues), but the Philippine Bishops after their Philippine Bishops Conference meeting have put a stop to the usage of further ivory art work used in the name of or in the church. This was initiated due to the proof the overflowing ivory artwork outputted in Philippine of recent, thereby, proving the conclusions of a National Geographic investigation in 2012 which states that Philippines are the highest illegal traders of ivory from the Africans. Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, Conference president, said:
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 [species], nor shall such new statues or images be used as objects of veneration in any of our churches. No matter the beauty of a work of art, it cannot justify the slaughter of wildlife, the use of endangered organic forms and lending a seal of approval to the threat posed to biodiversity by poachers and traffickers
But Archbishop Socrates Villegas in the conference letter stated that “ivories already in use can still be safeguarded and kept in use for the purpose of Devotion and in recognition of their historical value”. He said the pastoral letter was part of a programme of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to highlight sections of the Pope’s encyclical on the environment Laudato Si’.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, African elephants numbered about three million to five million in the past century, but rampant killings for ivory in the 1980s decreased their numbers by 100,000 per year. Today there are 470,000 African elephants and, despite an international ban on ivory poaching, the animal advocacy group said thousands continue to be poached.