Skip to comments.Sale of Relics Sparks Call for eBay Boycott
Posted on 10/25/2006 7:52:02 AM PDT by NYer
Oct. 24--A coalition of Christians, angered by the marketing of deceased saints' body parts over the Internet, is calling for a boycott of eBay until the company gets more vigilant about ending the practice.
The Los Angeles-based International Crusade for Holy Relics (ICHR), an independent group with about 200 members, plans to begin its boycott on All Saints Day, Nov. 1. The group is also urging sympathizers to petition top eBay officers for stricter policies and practices.
The moves come after years of discussions with eBay failed to rid the site of class-one relics, such as the bones, fingernail clippings and hair samples of venerable figures in Christian history.
"They're such a large, monstrous machine, eBay is, that all of a sudden you just throw your hands up in the air and say, `Oh my God, what can we do?'," said ICHR President Tom Serafin. "Well, what we can do is an actual boycott, to stop spending money until they stop giving (sellers) a platform to sell the remains of the saints."
In some Christian traditions, such as Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, relics of the saints enjoy a sacred status that's reinforced when believers offer gestures of respect. Conversely, Serafin said, that sacred status is undermined when body parts -- whether authentic to the saints or mere forgeries -- get bought and sold as objects of trade.
For its part, eBay permits the sale of hair but prohibits marketing other class-one relics on its site, according to spokeswoman Catherine England. Since the company doesn't prescreen anything before it gets posted for sale, she said, eBay depends on its "community" of users to notice if a bone or fingernail has surfaced so policy enforcers can remove it.
Yet with 105 million items for sale on the site, and 6 million new ones added every day, England said, eBay can't guarantee that nothing illicit gets posted.
"We still have a limited number of resources, and we have to prioritize," England said. Keeping firearms off the site, for instance, carries more urgency than blocking the trade of religiously sensitive materials.
Just how many class-one relics surface on eBay in a given year is unknown, though Serafin said dozens can be found at any given moment.
Example: in mid-October, a reporter could find a package of three to four hairs, allegedly tracing to 19th-century saint Don John Bosco, listed for $100.
The Archaeological Institute of America isn't endorsing the boycott, but President Jane Waldbaum said she is concerned about eBay creating a marketplace where stolen or forged relics can command a profit.
"It sets a very bad example," Waldbaum said. "It encourages a trade in dubious materials from the past ... They might have been looted from archaeological sites" or graves.
Serafin said eBay's policy of removing relics after they're reported to the company is ineffective. The reason: after a day or two, prospective buyers may have already copied down the seller's contact information.
"By then, the damage is already done," Serafin said. He proposes that eBay create a panel of relics specialists to help eBay staffers keep class-one objects off the site entirely.
"They do it with weaponry and pornography," Serafin said. "Why can't they do it here?"
England, the eBay spokeswoman, said the company relies on various industry and government experts to provide guidance for staffers to take a range of troublesome materials off the site as soon as they appear. In early October, eBay reached an agreement to let experts from the British Museum help oversee the antiquities trade, which is commonly marked by stolen objects and forgeries. eBay has not ruled out establishing a similar oversight mechanism for sacred relics, England said.
"With the ICHR in particular, we've had conversations with them in the past, and they've made a choice not to continue in those productive dialogues with us any longer," England said.
Still, she added, "We're always interested in hearing from interested parties and organizations, so there is an opportunity for (further) conversation there."
As of this morning, there are 1,000+ relics for sale on eBay.
Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch ping!
I've been boycotting Ebay for a year for entirely different reasons. I'm a cradle and born again Catholic but relics have always had the taint of hucksterism for crying out loud. I see this as part of over 2000 years of the same thing.
Oh sure, I really believe that that is a relic of the "live" and Passion of Our Lord.
What a deal and for only $960!!!
It's inconscionable that there is ANY selling of body parts on e-Bay. And to prey on people seeking to make a profit off religion or God, well, somehow I don't think God would look to kindly on that and I, for one, am not going to defend them.
We haven't bought anything on EBay for a while, but I forwarded this to Mr. Trisham so that he will be aware of this boycott. I'm shocked that EBay is so cavalier about this issue.
My husband and I were just looking at the relics on Ebay last night. There are many who are claiming to sell the "true cross," but we know that there are just to many splinters to be true. But where else can someone, who just doesn't have a lot of money, to get articles like these from families or places that won't vernerate them any longer. Is it so bad that we, as a family, would like a relic of someone holy and put it in a place of honor instead of a dresser drawer to be lost forever? Or maybe even thrown away? Maybe God has a purpose for this?
Not true. In 1870, Rohault de Fleury in his "Mémoire sur les instruments de la Passion" (Paris, 1870) made a study of the relics in reference to the criticisms of Calvin and Erasmus. He drew up a catalogue of all known relics of the True Cross showing that, in spite of what various authors have claimed, the fragments of the Cross brought together again would not reach one-third that of a cross which has been supposed to have been three or four meters in height, with transverse branch of two meters wide, proportions not at all abnormal.
But where else can someone, who just doesn't have a lot of money, to get articles like these from families or places that won't vernerate them any longer.
Try asking your pastor.
Neither of those are Class I relics. They contain no body parts of any kind.
Reliquaries and other classes of relics have always been sold on eBay. They're also sold in shops all over Europe and some in the U.S.
Most are bogus, in the first place.
Asking our pastor!? In California?! The churces here have nothing. If they did, they were want beaucoup bucks for them. We go to Ebay for all of our Catholic needs because all the religious shops here charge so much money for items.
We have gone to thirty or more different churches in Southern California, some in charge by nuns and the rests by priests, some even wearing the rainbow sash during mass. We have gone to these priests, these laity, all they want is money for their time. Most of the good priest we knew have already gone to the Lord. We have not been able to locate a holy priest in Southern California--dioceses of San Bernardino and Los Angeles. If we do get a chance to talk with someone, we get the opinion from him that we are just wasting his time.
Glad to hear that some of these relics of the true cross are most likely true. Will have to think of getting one.
Neither of those are Class I relics. They contain no body parts of any kind.Baby Jesus' diapers might contain Class 1 material ...
Catholics are reminded that section 1190, paragraph 1 of canon law absolutely prohibits the sale of sacred relics.
The way people get around that is to make the sale for the reliquary that the relics are contained in.
>>The way people get around that is to make the sale for the reliquary that the relics are contained in.<<
The one and only time I bought something close to a relic on E-Bay was from a group of Carmilite Nuns who were selling hand made containers for small pieces of an Agnus Dei.
I researched the nuns, found them to be a true group of nuns. I bought it, they sent me a thank you note and a tax receipt for the "gift".
Aren't relics suppose to put us in the mind of Our Lord anyway? They are talisman. Whether this little crocheted packet actually contains a piece of wax blessed by the Pope or not, I feel the spirituality that it is suppose to remind me of.
Here's a story. My Uncle, went to Rome in the seventies for a meeting with the Pope. A man outside the hotel was selling Miraculous Medals "Blessed by the Pope". My Uncle bought a few. In speaking with a Vatican official, he mentioned the medals.
The official laughed. Street vendors come into St. Peter's square and hold up their wares during the Papal blessings. This way they can say they are "Blessed by the Pope"!
My Uncle had them truly blessed when he saw Pope Paul VI. I carry one with me to this day.
Miniature penis bone of Mohammed, authenticated, $253 current bid.