I have made contact with an American sindonologist who has kindly agreed to peer-review my paper, "A proposal to radiocarbon-date the pollen of the Shroud of Turin," which I have
[Above: "Icon of Christ `not made by the hand of man' (Christ Acheiropoietos)," Moscow School, 12th c. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. IconsExplained.com]
been working full-time on (which explains my lack of posting), and had recently completed to first draft stage, although it still needs a lot of `polishing'.
He commented that the Shroud pro-authenticity community had been fortunate in that the late Pope John Paul II believed the Shroud was authentic, but the new Pope Benedict XVI (formerly Cardinal Josef Ratzinger) has been silent about the Shroud.
I replied to him, that there is evidence that Pope Benedict is far from indifferent about the Shroud. See the following quote from a book he wrote in 2000 as Cardinal Ratzinger in which he seems to accept that the Shroud is the Edessa Cloth/Mandylion, stating that "the Turin Shroud" is "acheiropoietos, an image that has not been made by human hands and portrays the very face of Christ, a truly mysterious image, which no human artistry was capable of producing" (my emphasis):
"One development of far-reaching importance in the history of the images of faith was the emergence for the first time of a so-called acheiropoietos, an image that has not been made by human hands and portrays the very face of Christ. Two of these images appeared in the East at about the same time in the middle of the sixth century. The first of these was the so-called camulianium, the imprint of the image of Christ on a woman's gown. The second was the mandylion, as it was called later, which was brought from Edessa in Syria to Constantinople and is thought by many scholars today to be identical with the Shroud of Turin. In each case, as with the Turin Shroud, it must have been a question of a truly mysterious image, which no human artistry was capable of producing. In some inexplicable way, it appeared imprinted upon cloth and claimed to show the true face of Christ, the crucified and risen Lord. The first appearance of this image must have provoked immense fascination. Now at last could the true face of the Lord, hitherto hidden, be seen and thus the promise be fulfilled: `He who has seen me has seen the Father' (Jn 14:9). The sight of the God-Man and, through Him, of God Himself seemed to have been opened up; the Greek longing for the vision of the Eternal seemed to be fulfilled. Thus the icon inevitably assumed in its form the status of a sacrament. It was regarded as bestowing a communion no less than that of the Eucharist. People began to think that there was virtually a kind of real presence of the Person imaged in the image. The image in this case, the image not made by human hands, was an image in the full sense, a participation in the reality concerned, the refulgence and thus the presence of the One who gives Himself in the image. It is not hard to see why the images modeled on the acheiropoietos became the center of the whole canon of iconography, which meanwhile had made progress and was understood better in its wider implications." (Ratzinger, J., Cardinal, "Art and Liturgy - The Question of Images," from his "The Spirit of the Liturgy," Ignatius Press, 2000, Adoremus Bulletin, Vol. VII, No. 10: February 2002).
"On 16 October 1984 STURP presented their 177 page `Phase II' project to the Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Ballestrero, in which they proposed a protocol for the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud. They never received any reply. From 29 September to 1 October 1986 Cardinal Ballestrero met representatives of seven laboratories and an 800 page protocol was drawn up naming three controlling authorities: `the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, G. Colonetti' of Turin, and the British Museum. Now eliminate the rivals. Too many supervising authorities and laboratories involved in such a project, of course, would only make it next to impossible to ensure that it obtained the desired result. But Cardinal Ratzinger had been assured that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences would not be excluded. Well too bad about them." (McDonnell, D.J., "The Great Holy Shroud Dating Fraud of 1988," 4 November 2003).
There were more quotes I could have sent him, but I decided to leave it at only two and post the rest here to my blog, giving him the link to this post if he wanted to read the others.
While as Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict's reflection on Jesus' crucifixion, "The Shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure," and His humiliation, "The Holy Shroud of Turin can let us imagine all that in a touching way":
"On Tuesday, April 19 Card. Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope and chose Benedict XVI as his name. The new Pope has always shown his attention for the Holy Shroud, which he also mentioned during the recent Way of the Cross on Good Friday, March 25, in his meditation for the eleventh station, Jesus is nailed to the Cross: `The Shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure'. ["Stations of the Cross," Good Friday, 2005] In Avvenire of April 20, on page 8, we can find the text of a theological reflection written by Card. Ratzinger in 2002 for the Meeting in Rimini; there you can also read: `He Who is the Beauty Itself has let His Face be hit, has let Himself be spat on and crowned of thorns. The Holy Shroud of Turin can let us imagine all that in a touching way. But just in such a disfigured Face the authentic, extreme Beauty appears: the beauty of the love which lasts "unto the end' and which, just in this, reveals itself as stronger than falsehood and violence'." (Marinelli, E. & M., "News," Collegamento pro Sindone, April 20, 2005)
could be interpreted as applicable even if he thought the Shroud was merely a work of art. But, apart from this being ruled out by his statement above that the Shroud was "an image ... which no human artistry was capable of producing" (my emphasis) in the actual meditation below, it seems clear that he regards the "image of pain" on the Shroud to be that of "the suffering Son of God":
"Jesus is nailed to the Cross. The shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure. Jesus does not drink the numbing gall offered to him: he deliberately takes upon himself all the pain of the Crucifixion. His whole body is racked; the words of the Psalm have come to pass: `But I am a worm and no man, scorned by men, rejected by the people' (Ps 22:7). `As one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised... surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows' (Is 53:3f.). Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at times of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation, and realize that it is then that we are closest to God. Let us try to see his face in the people we might look down upon. As we stand before the condemned Lord, who did not use his power to come down from the Cross, but endured its suffering to the end, another thought comes to mind. Ignatius of Antioch, a prisoner in chains for his faith in the Lord, praised the Christians of Smyrna for their invincible faith: he says that they were, so to speak, nailed with flesh and blood to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1). Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart, or to join others in mocking him." (Ratzinger, J., Cardinal, "Stations of the Cross," Good Friday, March 24, 2005. Adoremus, 22 February 2007).
Brendan Whiting quoted a message sent on Pope Benedict XVI's behalf, to the 2005 Third International Dallas Conference on the Shroud, expressing support for "scientific research on the Shroud and in promoting awareness of its outstanding religious significance" (see `tagline' quote below). While this might not seem much, the very fact that representatives of both Turin and Rome attended, let alone that a message was sent from the Vatican on behalf of Pope Benedict, seems highly significant.
The committment by "the papal custodian" of "the Church's willingness to allow more study of the Shroud when the scientific community determines what new tests need to be carried out, bearing in mind that conservation of the cloth and image" augurs well for the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud's pollen, in that, even if more pollen needs to be taken from the Shroud, it would have little or no effect on the Shroud's "cloth and image."
"The Third International Dallas Conference on. the Shroud The great diversity of parties from around the world with interest in the Shroud has tested relationships in the past, especially when differences of opinion arose over proposals made to the papal custodian of the Shroud to allow new scientific tests on the cloth or on fibre samples taken from it. However, any residual differences of opinions were substantially resolved during the international conference held in Dallas, Texas, 8-11 September 2005. Jointly sponsored by AMSTAR and the Holy Shroud Guild, in collaboration with Italy's Centro Internazionale de Sindonologia, the conference provided an important forum for various experts to express their views about what new tests should be undertaken in the future, having due regard for the safe preservation of the cloth. Speakers included Monsignor Ghiberti, special advisor to Cardinal Severino Poletto, Papal Custodian for the Holy Shroud ... Monsignor Ghiberti responded to the call by affirming on behalf of the papal custodian the Church's willingness to allow more study of the Shroud when the scientific community determines what new tests need to be carried out, bearing in mind that conservation of the cloth and image is the most important requirement. These sentiments echoed those of Pope Benedict XVI, which were expressed in writing on his behalf by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State for the Vatican: `His Holiness trusts that the Dallas conference will advance cooperation and dialogue among the various groups engaged in scientific research on the Shroud and in promoting awareness of its outstanding religious significance. He is convinced that the growth of such collaboration, in complete respect for the autonomy of distinct areas of competence, will contribute to the important pastoral aim of making the mystery of the Shroud better known and enabling its message to touch the hearts of men and women everywhere.' [Letter from the Vatican, 16 July, 2005, to the Most Reverend Charles Grahmann, Bishop of Dallas]." (Whiting, B., "The Shroud Story," Harbour Publishing: Strathfield NSW, Australia, 2006, pp.370-371. Emphasis original)