NEWS BRIEFS

– Tej Francis

WASHINGTON D.C.,

SALE OF CONSECRATED HOSTS VIOLATES ETSY’S POLICIES, WEBSITE CONFIRMS

(CNA) An Etsy representative has clarified that the sale of consecrated hosts for the purpose of desecration is a violation of the e-commerce website’s terms.A petition asking Etsy to confirm that it does not allow the sale of consecrated hosts gained thousands of signatures overnight, following a listing claiming to offer hosts to abuse.

On May 7, the Etsy account “Pentagora” claimed to be selling “Real Catholic Hosts, consecrated by a priest.” The hosts were advertised “to abuse for classic black fairs or black magic purposes.” The listing claimed to be selling a package of nine hosts that had been consecrated in Germany.

In the following days, the listing drew attention on Twitter, with critics arguing that it violated Etsy’s policies. The popular online marketplace only allows for the sale of items that are handmade, vintage, or craft supplies. Stolen items are explicitly prohibited, as are items that “support or glorify hatred toward people or otherwise demean people based upon: race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation.”

A few days later, the listing for the consecrated hosts was marked as “Sold Out.” It was subsequently deleted.On May 13, a Change.org petition was started, calling on Etsy to clarify that the sale of consecrated hosts is a violation of the platform’s policies.“Catholics believe that Consecrated Hosts are truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is the most precious thing in our religion,” the petition said.

“It is given freely, and so the only reason anyone could ever have to sell it would by definition be illicit. To sell them ‘for abuse’ is hateful against the Catholic Church and should be prohibited by Etsy.”The petition recognized that Etsy does not screen individual listings, but said that “to prevent this happening again, we ask that Etsy add ‘Consecrated Hosts’ to their already strict list of prohibited items.”

By the following day, the petition had gained more than 7,500 signatures. Jess Kallberg, policy manager for Etsy, responded to the petition May 14, confirming that “the reselling of consecrated hosts is a violation of our policies.”Etsy removed the “sold out” listing promptly upon being notified of it, she said.

SACRAMENTO, CALIF.,

CALIFORNIA CONFESSION BILL WON’T STOP ABUSE, BUT THREATENS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, CRITICS SAY

(CNA) The appropriations committee of California’s state senate will hold a hearing Thursday on a bill that would require priests to violate the seal of confession if they became aware of allegations of child abuse or neglect while celebrating the sacrament of penance. Critics say the bill would deny Constitutional religious liberty protections, and that there is no evidence it would prevent child abuse.

The bill, California SB 360, requires clergy members to report to law enforcement knowledge or suspicion of child abuse or neglect, “including when the clergy member acquires the knowledge or reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect during a penitential communication.”

Clergy in California are already required to report knowledge or suspicion of child abuse in most circumstances, though penitential conversations like sacramental confession are exempted, as are other kinds of privileged conversations, among them those covered by attorney-client privilege.

The bill’s sponsor, California state Senator Jerry Hill (D-Calif. 13), has claimed that “the clergy-penitent privilege has been abused on a large scale, resulting in the unreported and systemic abuse of thousands of children across multiple denominations and faiths.”

The senator has claimed that such abuse has been revealed through “recent investigations by 14 attorneys general, the federal government, and other countries.” Hill’s office declined to respond to requests from CNA for clarity or specific instances of the abuse cited.Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said in a May 15 column that Hill’s claim is “simply not true. Hearings on the bill have not presented a single case — in California or anywhere else ­— where this kind of crime could have been prevented if a priest had disclosed information he had heard in confession.”

“SB 360 claims to solve a crisis that does not exist,” Gomez said.While priests are forbidden from disclosing the contents of sacramental confessions under any circumstances, and face excommunication for doing so, few believe Hill’s bill would prevent child abuse.

OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO

FOUR MORE BURKINA FASO CATHOLICS KILLED IN NEW ATTACK

(CNA) Just one day after six Catholics were murdered by gunmen in Burkina Faso, four more Catholics were shot and killed in the northwest African country.On Monday, unknown gunmen interrupted a religious procession in a village near Kongoussi, a northwest city of the Bam Province. After releasing the children, the assailants killed four adult worshipers and burned a Marian statue, according to reports.

“We will not be bogged down by the religious attacks,” said Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo, archbishop of Ougadougou, CNN reported.The previous day, a group of gunmen attacked a Catholic church in Dablo, located in a nearby province. They shot and killed five men, including a priest, during Mass.An estimated 20 to 30 men were believed to be involved with Sunday’s attack. They burned down the church, and also set fire to a health center and a few nearby shops, according to state media.Following Sunday’s attack, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims and communities of Burkina Faso.

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