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INSIDE THIS WEEK’S PAPER

THEOLOGIAN FR AIDAN NICHOLS DISCUSSES THE TRUE MEANING OF ECUMENISM PAGE 8

No. 6454

www.catholicherald.co.uk May 7 2010 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)

Pope Benedict XVI speaks to worshippers in front of the Holy Shroud on display in Turin’s cathedral. He described the cloth as an icon bearing the imagery of Christ’s Passion and death AP Photo

Pope: Shroud is an ‘icon drawn in blood’

BY STAFF REPORTER

THE TURIN SHROUD is an icon written in blood, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

During a visit to the Shroud on Sunday, he said the cloth was a symbol of “the most radical solidarity”: Christ sharing the loneliest moment of human existence by lying in a tomb.

The Pope did not discuss the authenticity of the Shroud as the cloth used to wrap the dead body of Jesus, but he said it clearly “is a burial cloth that wrapped the body of a man who was crucified in a way corresponding completely to what the gospels tell us of Jesus”.

Pope Benedict paid a day-long visit to Turin, celebrating an outdoor Mass, venerating the Shroud in Turin’s cathedral, meeting young people and visiting the sick. During his evening visit to the exposition of the Shroud, which is on public display until May 23, the 83-year-old Pope said that while he had seen the Shroud before, this time there was a special “intensity, perhaps because the passing of years has made me more sensitive to the message of this extraordinary icon”.

The biblical accounts say Jesus was in the tomb from Friday night to dawn on Sunday – a time that was “chronologically brief, but immense, infinite in its value and meaning”, the Pope said.

For a day and a half, Jesus’s body lay dead in the tomb and it appeared as if God had hidden himself from the world, the Pope said. Most modern men and women have had the experience of God seeming to hide from them and from the world, he said. Even if they cannot explain their feeling in those terms, they experience “a void in their hearts that spreads. After the two world wars, the concentration camps and gulags, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our age became increasingly a Holy Saturday”, the day when Jesus’s body lay lifeless in the tomb, the Pope said.

“We have all had the frightening sensation of having been abandoned, which is precisely the part of death that makes us so afraid; like children we are afraid to be alone in the dark and only the presence of a person who loves us can reassure us,” Pope Benedict said.

As with a “photographic document” with a positive and negative image, he said, the Shroud conveys that “the darkest mystery of faith is at the same time the brightest sign of a hope without limits” because it reminds people that Christ willingly embraced death to give all people the possibility of eternal life.

“The Shroud is an icon written with blood: the blood of a man flagellated,

crowned with thorns, crucified and wounded on his right side”, exactly as the gospels say Jesus was, the Pope said.

Visiting the sick after venerating the Shroud, the Pope said that in the linen cloth, which is about 14ft long and 43in wide, Christians see not only a sign of intense suffering, but also a sign of the power of the Resurrection which transforms suffering into redemption.

“Living your suffering in union with the crucified and risen Christ, you participate in the mystery of his suffering for the salvation of the world,” the Pope told the sick. “By offering our pain to God through Christ, we can collaborate in the victory of good over evil because God makes our offering – our act of love – fruitful.”

At the morning Mass in the city’s St Charles Square, the Pope said the Shroud was a reminder that Jesus, who died for the sins of humanity, also rose from the dead. In the Shroud “we see reflections of our suffering in the suffering of Christ”, he said. “Precisely for this reason it is a sign of hope: Christ faced the cross to erect a barrier against evil, to allow us to see in his Resurrection an anticipation of that moment when, for us, too, every tear will be dried and there will be no more death, nor mourning, wailing nor pain.”

On the eve of the Pope’s visit the Archdiocese of Turin said more than 1.7 million people had made reservations for a specific time to view the Shroud. The archdiocese also said it expected an average of 70,000 visitors each week to arrive without reservations. They are allowed to view the Shroud from farther away in the central aisle of the cathedral.

Fr Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, later noted that the Holy Father did not refer to the Shroud as a “relic”.

He said: “More than the mysterious origin of this image, what attracts is the impressive way in which it corresponds, in very numerous details, with the account of the Passion of Christ in the gospels: the wounds, the bloodshed, the wounds of the crown of thorns, the beatings of the flagellation. And, in the centre, the solemn face of the crucified, a face that corresponds with the most ancient sketches of Christian iconography, which in turn confirms and inspires it.” When Pope John Paul II visited the Shroud in 1998 he also did not refer to it as a relic. He said it was a “mirror of the Gospel” because it reflected the visible signs of the Passion and death of Christ.

Feature: Page 9 Editorial Comment: Page 13

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C H A D 2 0 1 0 0 4

BY SIMON CALDWELL

POPE BENEDICT XVI has appointed Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff as the new Archbishop of Southwark.

Archbishop Smith will be installed on June 10. He succeeds Archbishop Kevin McDonald, who resigned last year on grounds of ill-health.

Archbishop-elect Smith, 66, was born and raised in Southwark archdiocese and was ordained priest there in 1972. He was appointed Bishop of East

Anglia in 1995 by Pope John Paul II, who in 2001 sent him to be the Archbishop of Cardiff following a succession of abuse scandals there.

He is the chairman of the Department for Citizenship and Christian Responsibility of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, a role which has made him the most senior spokesman on life issues for a decade.

He said he was “very sad” to be leaving Wales after eight “happy” years. “I shall never forget the warmth and generosity of the people of Wales, not only the Catholic community but so many others, and their great sense of humour and cheerfulness,” he said.

“However, my sadness at leaving is tempered by the prospect of returning to my roots in south London and going home to the archdiocese in which I was born and for which I was ordained a priest in 1972,” he said.

“I am very much looking forward to that and to serving the people, religious, deacons and priests of the Archdiocese of Southwark as their bishop,” he added. “It is good to be returning home.”

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the president of the bishops’ conference, described Archbishop Smith as “an outstanding and experienced leader”.

Southwark archdiocese has a Catholic population of 440,000, including 439 priests, 79 deacons and 792 religious.

Berlusconi criticised for receiving Host

Bookmaker sponsors confessional box

BY ED WEST

THE CHURCH in Italy has accused prime minister Silvio Berlusconi of committing “sacrilege” by receiving Communion because he is in the process of his second divorce.

Mr Berlusconi was given Communion at the funeral of a well-known Italian television celebrity in Milan, leading several churchmen to say that the controversial conservative politician was committing a grave sin.

Fr Paolo Farinella, a priest in Genoa, said: “Mr Berlusconi has committed sacrilege in the light of the fact that he is divorced and is in the process of getting divorced again.”

Emeritus Archbishop Giuseppe Casale of FoggiaBovino said he should be denied Communion as his behaviour was not “coherently Christian”.

Mr Berlusconi divorced his first wife, Carla Dall’Oglio, in 1985 and five years later married an actress, Veronica Lario.

BY DAVID V BARRETT

AN IRISH bookmaker is sponsoring a confessional in a church in Newmarket, the home of British horseracing.

Paddy Power has paid £10,000 to Our Lady and St Etheldreda church for the confessional box, which has green curtains with the company’s name and the words “Sin Bin”.

Jockey Frankie Dettori, pictured right, who was married in the church, performed the official opening ceremony last week. Parish priest Fr

Michael Griffin said a parishioner suggested racing sponsorship for the confessional because of the church’s horse-racing connections.

A spokesman for Paddy Power said that he hoped confessing sins in a b o o k m a k e r ’s box would become a tradition for punters.

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