CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 11 August 2018

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Shroud of Turin expert criticises new study casting doubt on authenticity
 
VATICAN (CNS): Emanuela Marinelli, a leading expert on the Shroud of Turin, believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus, dismissed a new study claiming that blood patterns on the shroud are not consistent with those left by a crucified person. 
 
In an interview with Vatican News on July 17, she said “there was nothing scientific” about the experiments conducted by Italians, Matteo Borrini, a forensic scientist, and Luigi Garlaschelli, a chemist. 
 
“Does it seem like a scientific criterion to take a mannequin—like the ones used to display clothes in a store window—and a sponge soaked in fake blood attached to a piece wood that is pressed on the right side of a dummy to see where the streams of blood fall?” Marinelli asked. 
 
“If this is considered science, I guess I’ll just have to take my degree in natural sciences and throw it away,” she said. 
 
The study, which was conducted in 2014 and published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences on July 10, claimed the blood patterns on the hands are “only consistent with a standing subject with arms at a 45 degree angle” while the blood stains emanating from the right side of the chest—believed to be from the lance that pierced Christ—“are totally unrealistic.”
 
Spanish Church critical of government plans curbing religious teaching
 
OXFORD (CNS): Spain’s Catholic Church has voiced “deep concern” over plans by the new government to curb religious teaching and re-examine past accords with the Vatican. 
 
“It is necessary to remember the rights to religious freedom and education—these inalienable rights ... are reflected in our constitution,” the executive committee of the Madrid-based bishops’ conference said in a statement. 
 
“Religion must be given adequate consideration in the educational system, as required for the person’s integral formation—it cannot be replaced by state ethics imposed by public powers,” it said.
 
The Spanish government said it plans to cut subsidies for Catholic schools and scrap religion as a school subject. The government said school religion would be replaced by a compulsory course on “civil and ethical values” and state subsidies would be withdrawn from Spain’s mostly Catholic private schools. 
 
But the bishops said the right of parents to “choose the educational model they want for their children” was enshrined in Spain’s 1978 constitution and guaranteed in 1979 agreements with the Vatican.
 
Prosperity gospel is dangerous
 
Rome (SE): Prosperity gospel, the a well-known theological current emerging from the neo-Pentecostal evangelical movements is perilous say Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, and Protestant theologian Marcelo Figueroa writing in La Civiltà Cattolica.
 
Prosperity gospel puts humans and their well-being at the centre and transforms God into a power at our service, the Church into a supermarket of faith and religion into a utilitarian phenomenon that is eminently sensationalist and pragmatic, 
 
Father Spadaro and Figueroa point out that at its heart is the belief that God wants his followers to have a prosperous life—that is—to be rich, healthy and happy. 
 
This type of Christianity places the well-being of the believer at the centre of prayer, and turns God the Creator into someone who makes the thoughts and desires of believers come true.
 
This image of prosperity, Father Spadaro and Figueroa write, relates to the so-called American Dream. However, they say it is a reductive interpretation that mechanically translates the vision of a land and society believed to be a place of open opportunity into religious terms, as though opulence and well-being were the true signs of divine delight to be conquered magically by faith.
 
Noting that the prosperity gospel has been used as a theological justification for economic neo-liberalism, the writers point out that Pope Francis has often warned against the perils of this theology that can “overshadow the gospel of Christ.”
 
They caution that it also gives voice to another of the great heresies— namely Gnosticism, and is a far cry from what St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:9-15: “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (8:9).
 
The two write that on 5 February 2015, the pope said that “salvation is not a theology of prosperity” but “a gift, the same gift that Jesus had received to give.”

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