The following comes from an August 12 Catholic News Agency article by Mary Rezac:
Ryan Scheel was shopping for a rosary on eBay when one listing caught him off guard. A first class relic of the bone of a saint, still in its wax-sealed reliquary, was listed for sale – to the tune of $3,600. “The listing was crass enough to even describe the relic as ‘ex ossibus,’ a Latin term meaning ‘from the bones,’” Scheel told CNA e-mail comments.
He decided to further search the online auction site, and found “pages and pages” of other first class relics for sale, violating eBay’s own policy that prohibits the sale of human body parts, other than human scalp hair. Scheel, who is also the founder and editor of the Catholic resource site uCatholic, said he tried to use eBay’s “Report Item” feature in order to alert the site of the first class relics, but he said the closest option given from the available drop-down list states: “The item in this listing is an artifact, fossil, or relic taken from federal or state public land or Native American land or battlefield.”
The listing of first class relics “is incredibly insensitive to the Catholic faith in way I doubt would be tolerated for other religions,” Scheel said. “But also…common decency should tell eBay that profiting off of the sale of body parts is ghastly and unethical, no matter who the remains belonged to in life.”
That’s why Scheel decided to launch a petition calling for eBay to remove the listings of the first class relics. He hopes to obtain signatures from at least 25,000 Catholics in order to alert the site of the illicit sales.
However, Scheel said “eBay should also forbid this out of common respect for the Catholic Faith.” Code of Canon Law 1190 states that it is “absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics,” whether or not they are human remains.
JD Flynn, a canon lawyer and director of communications for the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska said that it may be permissible for Catholics to buy the listed relics in order to protect them from further harm or desecration. “For example, it would be hard to justify getting into a bidding war with other devout Catholics for a relic, but it would be easy to understand getting into a bidding war for a relic with the owners of some hipster bar that wants relics for decorations,” Flynn said. “But in such a situation, the merchant is obviously engaged in simony,” the sacrilegious practice that consists in buying and selling what is spiritual (relics) in return for what is temporal (money).