The Pope and the Tramps
Tom Kingston, from Rome, writes in The Times (of London) under the headline, Pope sends 120 tramps to see Turin shroud (behind a pay wall):
The Pope has cleaned up Rome’s tramps with free showers and haircuts, given them a taste of culture with a guided tour of the Sistine chapel. Now he is offering to take 120 of them to the north of the country for a sneak preview of the Turin shroud.
In keeping with his aim of providing “a poor Church for the poor”, he has paid for a first coachload of vagrants to set off from Rome to see the cloth that many Roman Catholics believe covered Christ’s corpse.
If you want a Shroud of Turin story to resonate around the world, this is it. Not lasers or carbon dating or Rube Goldberg-like methods of creating the image.
The current exposition has been particularly interesting. The focus is not science. It’s not history. It’s not even particularly religious, either. Church authorities have focused almost completely on the people who come to see, not what they come to see. There was Muslim delegation, a renowned Atheists, countless youth groups from all over Italy and elsewhere, nuns from nunneries in far away places, plane loads of church congregants from as far away as the Philippine Islands. Particularly special are the special needs and very ill pilgrims. For them special viewing times, accommodations and guest-facilities that have been created.
The pope is coming. This is special, of course. Shroud enthusiasts – and they are not all Catholic, something most journalists don’t understand – will listen carefully to what he says about the shroud for clues about his take on it. But that isn’t his style, is it? What will be remembered from this exposition is what he has already said by his actions. He sent a delegation of homeless pilgrims that The Stuffy Times calls tramps and vagrants.
Maybe something was lost in translation from British to English.