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Apostolic Palace Video Exposes Ivory Use

During a week when the world learned that yet again a massive slaughter of elephants has taken place, this time of 89 elephants in Chad, many of which aborted upon being shot, I am struck by this video from ABC World News, which takes us inside the Apostolic Palace that Pope Francis I now calls…

Looking Inside the Vatican as Cardinals Prepare to Pick Next Pope

As Catholic cardinals prepare to convene on Tuesday for the conclave to pick the successor to Pope Benedict XVI, we’re highlighting parts of Inside the Vatican, a special that National Geographic Television produced for PBS during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, Benedict’s predecessor. The special’s crew was granted unusual access to the Vatican,…

Vatican Responds to National Geographic’s Correspondence About Religious Use of Ivory

“We are absolutely convinced that the massacre of elephant is a very serious matter,” writes Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in a response today to our correspondence about the use of elephant ivory for devotional icons by some Catholic followers.

As Father Lombardi points out, it was emails from readers of A Voice for Elephants blog to his office that encouraged him to write this letter. Please continue the conversation by commenting here and also, if you wish, by writing directly to his office.

Vatican Stand on Religious Use of Ivory Would Help Slow Illegal Killings of Elephants

The religious use of ivory is among the least publicized and seemingly most easily correctable drivers of the massive elephant slaughter now taking place across Africa. Does the Vatican consider the use of ivory religious carvings and ecclesiastical gifts to be morally wrong or at odds with Church doctrine? There has been no response to several requests National Geographic made to the Vatican to clarify the Church’s position.

Brief History of the Astronomical Telescope I: Galileo Galilei and the unlikely fate of his middle finger…

Just as 2005, commemorating the Centennial of Einstein’s Annus Mirabilus (“Miracle Year”) was celebrated as the “Year of Physics,” 2009 commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the invention of the astronomical telescope was celebrated as the “Year of Astronomy.” It is generally known that the German-Dutch lens maker Hans Lipperchey had received the first patent for…