imageFor “scientific approach to the Shroud” is usually understood that according to which the Shroud is regarded solely as an object of study and for which the only important issue is to try to answer the questions about the origin and the authenticity of the Shroud. A “pastoral approach to the Shroud” means the reading of the Shroud in the light of its intrinsic message that, starting from its close and indisputable relationship with the Holy Scriptures, becomes a valuable and unique inspirer of the life of faith and the prompter of those works of charity which are its real big fruit. In this regard at the end of his aforementioned speech in front of the Shroud on May 24, 1998 Saint John Paul II said: “May the Spirit of God, who dwells in our hearts, instill in every one the desire and generosity necessary for accepting the Shroud’s message and for making it the decisive inspiration of our lives”.

Therefore to put in antithesis the scientific approach to the religious one is very dangerous because you run the risk on one hand to reduce the Shroud to a “dead object”, to an image that has meaning only in itself and that doesn’t at all challenge our lives and on the other to turn the Shroud into a kind of idol slaved to a priori and instrumental theses. I am deeply convinced that to leave the presentation of the Shroud to a sole scientific approach or to a sole pastoral approach is neither correct nor useful for any kind of recipient. But then are these two ways of approaching the image of the Shroud really antithetic?

— Bruno Barberis
Associate Professor of Mathematical Physics, University of Turin &
Director of the International Center of Sindonology of Turin
from “Shroud, Science And Faith: Dialogue Or Conflict?
a paper he recently presented at the St. Louis Shroud Conference