Code of Canon Law 1190 states that it is "absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics," whether or not they are human remains.
Some have argued that what is for sale is the reliquary itself, and not the relic.
However, in the case of many of the first class relics for sale on eBay – some of which are going for thousands of dollars - that seems to not be the case, said JD Flynn, a canon lawyer and director of communications for the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb.
"Here's what needs to be considered: is the reliquary being sold for a price comparable to that of similar objects which do not contain relics? If a silver box containing Mother Teresa's eyelashes costs $1,000, and a silver box with no eyelashes costs $100, it's very difficult to argue that the person is not engaging in the sacrilege of simony," Flynn told CNA.
Simony is a sacrilegious practice that consists in buying and selling what is spiritual (relics) in return for what is temporal (money).
In the case of the eBay relics, Flynn said, 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 full petition can be found at: https://ucatholic.leadpages.co/ebay-relics-petition/