A 14-foot-long stretch of cloth mysteriously imprinted with a faint, brownish image of a naked man and wounds that mirror those of a crucifixion has inspired decades of debate over whether it could be Jesus’ burial shroud.

No, this is not an X-Ray of the Democrats’ election results last night. It’s the Shroud of Turin, revered as the burial cloth of Jesus, which Pope Francis will venerate next year.Photo courtesy of St. Louis Shroud Conference 2014

No point burying the lead: On this date in 1605, Guy Fawkes, a leader of a group of unhappy English Catholics, was arrested and hauled before to the King when his plot to blow up Parliament was discovered. Fawkes and most of the other plotters were hanged, drawn and quartered.

In related developments, Republicans buried the Democrats in yesterday’s elections. The Republic is safe, finally.

What role did those famous “hot-button” moral issues play in this election? Early indications are that they may have cut the other way this time. Mark Udall, Wendy Davis and Sandra Fluke were all champions of reproductive rights, to such an extent that even some of their supporters got tired of the refrain. And they all lost. Time for a new tune?

Our own Mark Silk is in with some early analysis indicating that the “War on Religion” meme may have worked better for the GOP than the “War on Women” did for the Dems.

And at Religion Dispatches, Sarah Posner says the white evangelical vote still rules, and worked for Republicans.

In other election-related news:

Pope to venerate Shroud

Pope Francis says he will visit Turin next June to venerate the Shroud of Turin, which is regarded by many of the faithful as the cloth that wrapped the body of Jesus after the crucifixion.  Science isn’t so sure, but as they say in the tabloids, the story is too good to check out. It is an amazing relic, that’s all I gotta say.

Confusion and the Synod: Part XXVI

Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput says he was referring only to media coverage of the recent Vatican synod on the family when he decried the public image of “confusion” on church teaching that emerged last month. But Cardinal Burke has no such clarifications: He says that in fact it was the discussion at the synod itself about gay couples etc. that “caused a tremendous confusion and could even induce the faithful into error.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin isn’t buying it. He said he was “quite surprised at the remarks of some commentators within church circles about the recent Synod of Bishops, often making accusations of confusion where such confusion did not exist and so actually fomenting confusion.”

Schism, anyone?

Some Catholics are raising the idea that disgruntled conservatives could split off, but that’s easier said than done, as I write here.

Meanwhile at Crux, ace Vaticanista John Allen wonders if Francis is going Nixonian and compiling an “enemies list.”

Footnote: The Guy Fawkes “Gunpowder Plot” mentioned above was also called the “Jesuit Plot.” And Francis is a Jesuit. Just sayin’.

Catholic Ebola-related fallout

A New York state bishop has barred priests from traveling to West Africa out of concern over the epidemic there, and a Catholic school teacher in Louisville who just returned from Kenya — which has had no cases of Ebola — was forced to resign because parents were worried.

America’s Most Beautiful Catholic Churches

U.S. Catholic magazine has a nice antidote to all the sturm und drang. Check out their gallery of photos here.

“Fix My Choir” debuts tonight!

So we’ve gone from “Pimp My Ride” to this, on the Oxygen network. I’d say that’s an upgrade. In the premiere, a New Orleans choir gets a makeover. Reviews tomorrow. Maybe.

Economic recovery for Protestant churches

Lifeway research tracks the uptick. So President Obama should be okay with them. Oh, wait … See above.

Baylor is a Texas Monthly cover story

Those fancy-pants Baptists! Time to split off?

Christmas references and the Halloween pumpkin is still here?

Yes, our own Jana Riess goes there, with an “Island of Misfit Toys” themed post. It’s about gay Mormons, and interesting as always. But still.

Related: Our new blogger Eliel Cruz writes about Notre Dame’s recent “Gay in Christ” conference. And manages to do so without getting me worried about Christmas gifts. Thanks, Eliel.

At least Jonathan Merritt sticks to the reason for the season, and tells his fellow Protestants to think about getting them some saintly veneration.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned to this space for further developments, and sign up below for the daily Religion News Roundup — it’s free, and now that the election is over you’ll need something to fill that empty space in your in-box…

David Gibson


Categories: Culture

David Gibson

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.


  1. “Pope Francis says he will visit Turin next June to venerate the Shroud of Turin”

    Some Christians insist that the Jesus story is true because any naysayers at the time would’ve squashed it. Those same Christians may be ignoring the fact that our earliest documentation of the Shroud is from a naysayer.


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