The sale of "holy relics" on Ebay has angered a Catholic activist group, who say placing such items on the internet auction site violates the rules of the Church.
The Los Angeles based International Crusade for Holy Relics, which despite its lofty name seems to consist of someone called Tom Serafin "and a handful of others, including a Russian archbishop and a retired FBI agent", have been complaining to Ebay for the past ten years about the sale of "first-class relics", i.e. human remains. For example, earlier this month one seller was offering a "wheat-coloured envelope fastened with a red wax seal said to contain the remains of the Apostle Bartholomew".
Serafin also objects to the sale of Eucharist wafers "and similar highly sacred items", so much so in fact that he urges Catholics to boycott Ebay via his website www.boycottebay.net and bombard the site with emails informing the company how angry they are. A look at the website shows that Serafin has cleverly integrated his objection to the sale of relics with objections to genuinely offensive items such as racist material.
It doesn't seem like Serafin is getting anywhere with his campaign, however, and he seems to be running out of patience with the auction site: "Ebay is like a big monster. You can't even beat a conscience into them."
In case you're wondering why Catholics object so much to the sale of relics, here's a Father Mark Weisner to explain: "Just as you would not go around selling portions of one of your beloved deceased for money, for the church these [saints] are our family members."
Well, it's a shame they didn't have these same feelings back in the sixteenth century when Martin Luther nailed his objections to the doors of his local church. It could have saved everyone a lot of trouble...