On Sunday Benedict XVI was able to concentrate briefly on what he does best: teaching the truths of the Catholic faith. His comments after venerating the Turin Shroud were a masterpiece of theological clarity and concision.
Rather than engaging in the complex debate about the Shroud’s authenticity the Pope focused on its theological significance. It was, he said, “an icon of Holy Saturday”, the day the crucified Lord lay concealed in his tomb. He then connected “God’s concealment” in the tomb with the modern sense that “God is dead”. This celebrated expression, he said, was taken almost word for word from the Christian tradition. “The most obscure mystery of faith is at the same time the most luminous sign of a hope without limits” because Jesus has passed from death to life. Christ awaits us when our own time comes to lie in the tomb – “the most extreme darkness of the most absolute human solitude” – and he will gave us his hand and lead us out of that darkness.
In Turin Benedict XVI offered a luminous reply to those who make a tidy living from their bombastic assaults on the Christian faith. And he reminded the faithful that, despite the many harrowing scandals within the Church, we can be confident that it is leading us towards this transformative meeting with the risen Lord.