If you know St. Louis, you know the Post-Dispatch. It is one of the country’s leading newspapers, founded in 1878 by Joseph Pulitzer. This morning, the following headline appeared on the front page of the online edition: Shroud of Turin conference draws believers to St. Louis
The article, written by Lilly Fowler, the paper’s religion reporter, is informative, refreshingly accurate and balanced. Here are a few quotes:
Forty experts, scientists and enthusiasts are introducing the latest research surrounding the so-called burial cloth of Jesus at an international four-day conference, opening today at the Drury Plaza Inn in Chesterfield.
Russ Breault, who first became interested in the Shroud of Turin when he wrote about it for his college paper. will deliver the opening talk that will focus on how the pattern of wounds on the man seen on the shroud — markings consistent with a crown of thorns, a pierced wrist and what appear to be blood stains — correlate with what the Gospels say happened to Jesus.
For Breault, the question — “Could this be the burial cloth of Jesus?” — is one worthy of rigorous pursuit.
“This is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the world,” Breault said from his home in Atlanta. “It all comes down to possibility and what that possibility represents.”
[ . . . ]
“The radiocarbon sample has completely different chemical properties than the main part of the shroud relic,” Raymond Rogers, a retired chemist from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, told the BBC News in 2005.
[ . . . ]
The Roman Catholic Church itself has come down somewhere in the middle with regard to the authenticity of the shroud. Although it has not declared the artifact a bonafide relic, since it was willed to the Vatican in 1983, the popes themselves have venerated the object.
[ . . . ]
Breault also says proving the shroud is the burial garment of Jesus isn’t crucial to him. Still, he admits he’s “rooting for the home team, for sure.”
“But again, if it remains an unresolved mystery,” he said. “I’m fine with that too.”