My problem with a petition that demands new scientific examinations of the Shroud is that it has the process backwards. The horse (the scientific team and procedures) is behind the cart (permission to proceed). Much has to be done before any permission from Turin or the Vatican can be obtained.
So begins an instructive posting, Examining and Preserving the Shroud of Turin, on John Klotz’s blog, Quantum Christ. It is a must read, so do so.
A central point of John’s posting is this:
I might add a comment about the non-intrusive – minimally intrusive problem of further scientific examination of the Shroud. I have an analogy: Central Park in New York City
From time to time many well meaning proposals have been advanced for projects believed to have immense public value for Central Park in NYC. It has been estimated, as I recall, that if everyone of them had been approved, Central Park would have been cemented over 5 times. The biggest of such projects that was built is the Metropolitan Museum of Art which is one of the great treasures of the United States . However, it does display incipient ant hill tendencies to push the boundaries of its site.
I would suspect, that if every well-intentioned person who desired just a tiny piece or more of the Shroud had received their desire, the Shroud would have disappeared long ago, probably before Secondo Pia was even born.
Preservation of the Shroud is not just the Church’s annoying demand – It is a demand of all humanity (whether some realize yet or not). Whether the controversial 2002 restoration was appropriate or not, the desire of the Church and Turin to first and foremost preserve the Shroud is absolutely correct. Therefore, what I would call the non-intrusive as opposed to minimally intrusive standard must be recognized. Perhaps a tiny exception for a truly minimally intrusive procedure might be made, and perhaps a definition of intrusive must be formulated.
We could do well to learn from STURP, not just what they accomplished in Turin and afterwards but how they developed, presented and obtained approval for a plan of non-invasive studies.