Sweeping it under the shroud

Parts of Chartres Cathedral pre-date the Turin shroud

Did the Vatican just decide to display the shroud of Turin or has it been planning it for a long time? It was shown in public in Turin on Saturday for the first time in a decade, and two million suckers are expected to queue to see it over the next six weeks.

I can’t help wonder whether they’ve rolled out the fake Jesus shroud to distract everyone from the paedophile scandal. But then again, the archbishop of Turin, Severino Poletto, doesn’t seem too worried at all by the institutional paedophilia. Just a few bad apples, he contends: “The Church has always gone through painful times in the course of history. Those who point the finger at a few priests forget to say how much good the Church and its institutions have done for humanity throughout history.”

So those of you pointing the finger at the Catholic Church for its failure to stop its paedophile priests, please just stop it! It’s just a few bad apples to blame, and of course the media. He suggested the journalists exposing the Church’s cover-up were in fact the ones in need of salvation, saying the display of the shroud “can help make us all better people, even you journalists”.

I don’t know how a 13th century forgery could make anyone a better person. The Church could at least make millions of people a little less gullible by acknowledging the truth of the garment’s age instead of blurring it in preposterous mystery. But I suppose that if you refuse to acknowledge the truth of the fossil record, why bother recognising the truth of the radiocarbon dating proving the shroud was made between 1260-1390?

But don’t just rely on the radiocarbon dating. In October 2009 an Italian scientist announced he had replicated the shroud using medieval technology. And in December archaeologists found a burial shroud from the time of Jesus which had a completely different weave from the Turin fake.

Anyway, Ratzinger needs some positive PR so he’s going to “pay homage” to the shroud on May 2, an act he described as “a propitious occasion to contemplate this mysterious visage that speaks silently to the heart of men, inviting them to recognise the face of God”. Pass me a bucket, I think I’m going to be sick.

At least someone has a bit of common sense in all this. Turin anarchists have announced a “No Shroud Day” on the pope’s visit. Organiser Maria Matteo told AFP the shroud is “Catholic propaganda”.

“He is not welcome in our city,” she added.

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