In a front-page article in your issue of December 23 it is stated ... "although the Church does not officially recognise the Holy Shroud as a sacred relic ..."
It is not true to suggest that the Church does not recognise the Shroud as a sacred relic. The Code of Canon Law lays down for the authentification of relics that the Local Ordinary (the Bishop) be satisfied as to the authenticity of a relic before he allows its exposition. Cardinal Fossati, in 1933, was so satisfied — not only by his own researches — but also by the words of Pope Pius XI who said of the Shroud "... we are convinced of its authenticity. Arguments have arisen against it but they do not stand up."
The Pope of the time and the Cardinal Archbishop of Turin both show their acceptance of the Holy Shroud by the exposition which they authorised. Incidentally, the exposition took place for a period of eight days — not, as you seem to suggest, for a mere five minutes, During the time of exposition, more than two million pilgrims came to venerate the Shroud, It is not the practice, nor does it fall within the competence of the Church to define infallibly the authenticity of relics. All relics are accepted or not as the case might be according to the results of the diligent search carried out by the competent authority. It is not without serious significance that the Holy Shroud is quoted by the canon lawyers Bouscaren and Ellis as being in the same category as the relics of the True Cross — relics which sal generic are sacred and may be kept outside of a Church only with the express permission of the local bishop. The Holy Shroud has its own Office and its own Mass, not granted lightly by the Church to any relic. Thirty-three Popes, either directly or by accepting the judgments of their predecessors, have granted various indulgences to the veneration of the Holy Shroud. I do hope that you will allow this letter to be printed to help put the record straight. I am sure all will realise that those of us who are devoted to the Holy Shroud and the information it contains require no more from the Church than she is prepared to give in this matter. I hope that you will agree that the Church has given a great deal of honour to the Holy Shroud.
(Fr) John Neville Worsley, Manchester.