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The Day Was Not About the Shroud

imageReuters journalist Philip Pullella wrote the report that got the most early-the-next-day shroud coverage among English language newspapers. The headline: Pope prays at Turin Shroud but skirts authenticity debate

Pope Francis prayed on Sunday before the mysterious shroud some Christians believe is Jesus’s burial cloth but skirted the issue of its authenticity, saying it should remind people of all suffering and persecution.

On his first day of a visit to the northern industrial city of Turin, he defended migrants flocking to Europe to escape war and injustice, saying it "makes one cry" to see them mistreated.

He also spoke of the city’s 19th century reputation as a center of devil worship and anti-clericalism, saying today’s young people faced new snares of high unemployment, drugs and unbridled consumerism.

Pullella said very little about the shroud. But he did pick up the gist of what the pope did and then said about the shroud:

After praying for several minutes before the cloth that has baffled scientists for decades, he touched its glass case and moved on to say Mass for 60,000 people. There he said the Shroud should spur people to reflect not only on Jesus but also on "the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person."

Despite the headline, the last several paragraphs of Pullella’s filing are about migrant workers.

The pope began the day with an outdoor rally on the theme of workers rights and immigration. Turin’s factories drew in waves of poor southern Italian peasants in the post-war period. Today it is home to migrants from developing countries and social tensions have increased along with unemployment.

That same day, Pullella filed two other stories.

Pope says abuse of migrants ‘makes one cry,’ visits Turin Shroud

Pope says weapons manufacturers can’t call themselves Christian

Pullella may understand this pope very well.  The day was not about the shroud. It wasn’t about what the pope might think about the shroud. 

The AP story to some extent picks up this theme

Francis sat for several minutes before the shroud, contained in a protective glass case. He lowered his head at times in apparent reflection and occasionally gazed up at the 4.3-meter (14-foot) long cloth. Then he took a few steps, placed his hand on the case, and walked away without comment.

Later, after celebrating Mass of the faithful in a packed Turin square, Francis gave his impression of the cloth as he spoke of the love Jesus had for humanity when being crucified.

‘Icon of Christ’s love’

“Icon of this love is the Shroud, which, even this time, has attracted so many people here to Turin,” Francis said. “The Shroud draws (people) to the tormented face and body of Jesus and, at the same time, directs (people) toward the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person.”

The AP story also switched gears, perhaps a bit less gracefully:

Skeptics say the cloth bearing the image of a crucified man is a medieval forgery.

Turin, the heartland of Italy’s auto industry, is considered Italy’s blue-collar labor capital, and Francis used his two-day visit to the city to denounce exploitation of workers, singling out women, young people and immigrants as frequent victims.

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