A new form of illicit Web commerce - e simony.

The internet has become a major place for the sinful,
but legal, buying and selling of sacred objects.
By Roy Maynard, Our Sunday Visitor
November 14, 1999

It sounds positively medieval - relics, the actual bones of saints, as well as objects they touched in life - are being offered for sale to the faithful, at often astronomical prices. But there's a modern twist: The relics are being sold on the Internet.

"This is frightening," relic expert Tom Serafin said of this high-tech commission of an old style sin. "When I first noticed it on a privately run website, I tried to educate the individuals on Canon Law, but I met a lot of resistance, I knew it was only a matter of time before an electronic Dark Ages II would begin."

What Serafin calls "e-simony" - trafficking relics through Internet auction houses - has been going on for a little over a year, he said; now, relics some of the hottest items auctioned on Internet sites. ..."The problem is, people keep finding ways around the rules," Serafin said.

For example, last month a first-class relic of St.Pius X went for $197.50 - or to be more exact, "the reliquary is being auctioned," the seller advertised.

"That's moronic," said Serafin. "It is a violation of Canon Law, of natural law, and it's a sin. The seller is putting his own soul at risk."

... Serafin said he's horrified. " The True Cross is the instrument of Jesus' passion," he said," and it's being bought and sold for profit."