Archbishop Chaput calls Eucharist sale on eBay ‘extraordinarily offensive’

The on-line auctioning company, eBay is under fire today from Catholics around the world who are outraged that the company allowed a Eucharistic host allegedly consecrated by Pope John Paul II to be sold on their site.

Although the $2,000 sale did not go through thanks to the intervention of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, faithful are still livid at the web site for allowing what they call a sacrilege and an insult.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said in a letter to Meg Whitman of eBay, that, “the sale of a consecrated communion host by anyone, under any circumstance, is a very serious sacrilege for Catholics and therefore an equally serious insult to the Catholic community.”

Although officials at eBay say that they see nothing wrong with the sale because it violated no laws, the archbishop noted that he understands “that eBay runs a complex and open business—but this sort of sale is extraordinarily offensive.”

The original sale, which included other pieces of memorabilia from the pope, was performed by an Sloan, Iowa man who wrote in capital letters on the site that, “I am not Catholic and do not believe I am going to hell for selling this collectable.”

To this, Archbishop Chaput noted that “whether the seller is Catholic or not is irrelevant. Catholics believe that the consecrated Communion host is literally the body and blood of Jesus Christ; it is the center of our worship life.”

The U.K. based Catholic Action Group is urging faithful to sign a petition to change eBay’s policy which allowed the Eucharist to be sold.

“We are disgusted”, they said, “with EBay’s Pontius Pilate response: ‘However, even though these auctions may be offensive to some, please remember that most of the time the law does not prohibit the items.’”

The group further noted that, “Even if you are NOT Catholic, this is an affront to Christ as well as to the faith of Catholic and Orthodox Christians.” They asked all “Christian friends to stand united with us in this.”

On Friday, Monsignor Robert J. Augustine of the Diocese of Sioux City, met with the seller, and was able to help stop the sale.

Msgr. Augustine, who disposed of the Eucharist in accordance with Church dictates said that,  "I am most grateful that the seller agreed that it was in everyone's best interest to bring this issue to a positive conclusion.”

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