SIOUX CITY, April 14, 2005 ( – eBay, the largest online marketplace in the world, has refused to forbid the sale of consecrated Communion hosts. Catholics around the world are outraged at the auctioning of a consecrated Host which the seller from Sloan, Iowa claims to have received illicitly at an outdoor papal Mass in 1998.

The package of Catholic ‘collectibles’ was offered with the condescending caveat, “First of all, I am not catholic and do not believe i’m (sic) going to hell for selling this collectible. So, if you’re going to send me a message saying that I am don’t waist (sic) your time because it’ll just be deleted w/o being read.”

To those who wrote to eBay in concern, eBay responded with the expected ‘pluralism’ defence. Replying to complaints, a spokesman for eBay’s Community Watch Team wrote, “Because eBay’s community is a diverse, international group of more than 135 million users with varied backgrounds and beliefs, there are times when some items listed on eBay by sellers might be offensive to at least some of our users somewhere in the world… eBay has made the decision not to prohibit any item only on the basis of the item being endowed with sacred properties by certain religious groups.”

This response has only served to further infuriate Catholics however. Catholics do not see the Communion Host as merely symbolic but as the actual, living and present body and blood of Jesus. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the Eucharist as, “the Lord’s Body and the ‘Holy of Holies.’

The controversy has caused some Catholics to speculate that more care be taken in the administering of communion. In the past, reception of communion was strictly controlled so as to avoid abuses. Communion was given only on the tongue and when the practice was altered to allow communion in the hand in the sixties many expressed concern about the possibility of abuse.

The New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights issued a statement in which it assured Catholics that the Host was bought by a member of the Catholic men’s organization the Knights of Columbus “out of respect.” Catholic League president William Donohue criticized eBay for offending Catholics and refusing to withdraw the item. He said, “We are told that eBay has decided not to prohibit any item ‘endowed with sacred properties by certain religious groups.’…It would be instructive to know which religious groups eBay would protect. Obviously, Catholics did not make the cut, so who did?”

Further inquiries have elicited the response from eBay that, while the company “fully respects” the “handful” of people who complained, it was determined that the sale of the Eucharist did not violate company policies. Hani Durzy of eBay said, “We knew there were going to be folks that were deeply offended. In fact, there may be many people here who share their distaste. However, we do our best to tolerate the many viewpoints held by our worldwide community.”

The Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa has officially complained to eBay and is attempting to contact the seller.

To express your concerns to eBay
eBay Customer Support:
[email protected]

Write to eBay president:
Meg Whitman
2145 Hamilton Avenue San Jose, California 95125

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