Thriving trade in Church artefacts on Ebay, antique shops

With the closure of city churches in the US, chalices, altars and even confessionals are being traded in antique shops and even on the online auction website Ebay.

According to the Associated Press, an ornate old altar has even been installed on the gambling floor of the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas and a stained-glass window of St Patrick has been relocated in a pub.

Closer to home, religious items may also be found on sale on Ebay Australia.

While many people are troubled by such re-use of religious items, new churches in growth areas in the South and West of the US are happy to gain access to quality goods.

It is reported that Los Angeles County added $3.4 million Catholics, while the counties that are home to Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Miami and San Antonio have recently grown by more than 400,000 each.

As a result, dealers are stepping in to meet the expanding demand. Some dioceses are also starting to play an active role in placing religious objects with new owners. Policies differ from diocese to diocese at present with some dioceses taking a hard line against sacred items falling into private hands.

"We don't want to find an altar railing in a bar," Sister Regina Murphy from Buffalo diocese is reported as saying. "People are kind of aghast at that. So we dismantle it completely."

Concerns about possible abuse and also about the extent of losses have also led Fr Pat Butler from Albany, New York, to call for the establishment of a national clearing house for religious artifacts.

As city churches close, artifacts disperse (Leading the Charge, 12/6/2006)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
(A wide range of liturgical articles may be found on Ebay)

13 Jun 2006