The Real Meaning Is Not Authenticity

imageCarol Glatz has an interesting piece in the Catholic Herald, ‘Obsession’ with authenticity hides Turin Shroud’s real meaning, says expert. That expert is Gian Maria Zaccone, scientific director of the Museum of the Shroud of Turin. He said it at a preview of the shroud exposition for journalists. Take a couple of minutes to read the entire article:

“It is up to one’s own personal judgment, that is, neither I nor anyone else can tell you that the Shroud is authentic or not; each person examines and works out what research has offered” and then makes up his or her own mind.

Church doctrine has long held that any reverence or honour given to a religious object or relic must be given to what it represents and not to the object itself, he said.

As I am getting ready to post the above, in comes an email from Joe Marino with a Google translation of a Vatican Insider article that features answers to questions by Zaccone and Andrea Nicolotti. Nicolotti is a frequent participant in this blog who has commented nearly two-hundred times. In the Vatican Insider article Nicolotti tells us (Googlized):

"The Church in the official discourse uses some caution, however, in practice (books, television, catechesis, conferences) promotes propaganda authenticity and discourages the contrary. This creates a lot of ambiguity. "

What Nicolotti is saying is the same thing I am beginning to hear more often. Stephen Jones used the term duplicitous, which is a bit harsh.  See yesterday’s posting, Ye shall know them by their photographs.

And so the question was posed: What should the Church do with the Shroud?

Nicolotti: "No, this is not a question for a historian. It is not my job to say what the Church should do. As far as I’m concerned I feel so overwhelming evidence medieval origin, which I can not understand how anyone can argue otherwise if not placing myself from a point of view devotional or emotional, not rational. "

Zaccone: "I agree that we need a historical, but we must give priority to the study of the object to get the answers we seek regarding the origin of the Shroud. Consider the historical research is very important in many ways, but not fundamental to the question of authenticity. The Church, as I said before, does what it has always historically done and continues to do: teaching propose that image to go to the heart of what it represents, according to the teaching that, through the representation, honor and worship you make it to the principal. "

N: "From the historical point of view it is necessary to perform a cleaning of all the false rumors and legends about the Shroud touted as true. A serious scientific study would be equally desirable. Let’s start with some certain items. The first historical are medieval. At the time, even those who possessed it affirmed the authenticity of the Shroud: called "figure or representation."The fabric – according to my conclusions, which had already reached some historians of weaving, unheeded – is technologically medieval. Twelve radiocarbon datings, performed in 1988 in three different laboratories, have called medieval. Then there are strong indications, such as the fact that no one in history for thirteen centuries, from the tomb of Jesus to the Middle Ages, has never spoken of this shroud; and when the bishop of Troyes and the pope have spoken for the first time, they did say that it was a fraud. So I conclude that it is extremely unlikely that this object dates from the time of Jesus. In addition, the image on the Shroud could not have produced by contact with a dead body without the intervention of a craftsman, and stains of "blood" are not realistic. Efforts are made to doubt this evidence, but I think no effectiveness. If we want to give priority to the devotional aspect, then there was no talk of authenticity. But the question always resurfaces, I can not dodge the issue. That the problem is not secondary demonstrated by the fact that the Shroud is constantly engaged in an effort to delegitimize the results of studies to the detriment of the authenticity, concocting complicated alternative explanations or by resorting to the subject of the miracle. It rejects arguments against and always has a tendency to cite research favorable authenticity (pollens, written, coins) without ever giving into account when they are rejected by the scientific community. Meanwhile access to the Shroud is foreclosed to scholars for decades: it is even forbidden to work on the high-resolution photographs, a situation quite simply unacceptable. "

Z: "I do not think can be considered closed the question of the origin of the Shroud. I’m not saying that is certainly true, I just say that you can not wipe out so simply a series of elements at least doubts, such as the formation of the image, which even today, despite the numerous theoretical and experimental studies carried out, remains without explanation because no one has yet managed to produce an equal. Also because the problems of interpretation of radiocarbon dating were already present in the literature relative to other datings addition to that of the Shroud. Also I think I have repeatedly made clear how the documents, particularly those medieval, can be interpreted in a more complex and not necessarily for the worse. And I would also like you cease to believe that any researcher – even if the value of goal – that enters the order of ideas that the Shroud may be authentic, thereby become unreliable when no object of derision. There must be a science of the Shroud, but scientists who study according to their specializations. I do not find correct that a nuclear physicist deals with history and vice versa. "