Press Release Headlines

Shroud of Turin Conference Awash in Controversy and Criticism

NEW YORK, NY., Sept. 20, 2005 — According to a report published today on the Shroud Story website (, a recent conference on the Shroud of Turin erupted in controversy over how the Papal Custodians of the Shroud were dealing with scientific evidence. The report is entitled, "An Enchilada Comes to Mind."

The conference, held from September 8 to 11, in the grand ballroom of the historic Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, Texas, was attended by about 100 archeologists, scientists and historians from around the world.

According to Daniel Porter, author of the report, conference organizers had wanted a positive discussion of the Shroud's possible authenticity. What they encountered instead was a barrage of criticism about a secret restoration of the cloth in 2002 and probing questions about why Turin officials summarily rejected chemical proof of failed carbon-14 dating.

According to the website report, most researchers at the conference, representing a broad spectrum of Catholic, Anglican (Episcopal), Protestant and Evangelical Christians, felt that the restoration was scientifically, archeologically and preservation-wise reckless. Moreover, they wanted to know why scientific evidence, published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Thermochimica Acta, and independently verified by other scientists, was being ignored.

"John Paul II was clear when he said the church did not have specific competence to pronounce on scientific matters," said Porter. "He said the Church entrusts that task to scientists. And just last week, Turin's archbishop, Cardinal Poletto, reiterated that point. But Turin officials are ignoring microscopic, spectral and chemical analysis from multiple scientists. Instead they rely solely on the opinion of a non-scientist textile consultant. It doesn't make any sense."

In an attempt to minimize controversy, conference organizers decided to prohibit questions and comments from the floor. But the scientists attending the conference were not deterred by this tactic.

"You don't treat full professors and published scholars this way," said Porter.

In a presentation that had been billed as a tribute to the late Raymond Rogers, a chemist and Science Fellow of the Los Alamos National Laboratory who had studied the Shroud for many years, researcher Barrie Schwortz instead showed an interview with Rogers taped shortly before his death on March 8, 2005. In the interview, Rogers explained why the 1988 carbon-14 dating had been invalid because samples contained significant amounts of new material from discrete repairs to the cloth. He also offered a blistering criticism of the secretive restoration and explained why the cloth and the still-unexplained images of a crucified man may have been damaged in the process.

In a letter to the conferees, the Vatican Secretariat of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, wrote that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, "trusts that the Dallas Conference will advance cooperation and dialogue among various groups engaged in scientific research on the Shroud."

"Cooperation and dialog happened," said Porter, "but in startling ways that Turin had not expected."


Daniel Porter

# # #