LA STAMPA – Wednesday  September 18, 2002, pag. 16

On Saturday the presentation.
Removed the patches sewn in the XVI century and replaced the backing cloth
«Shroud, a risky restoration»
Scientists’ polemics on the cleaning work


VATICAN CITY - There is a controversy on the Shroud: the “restoration” operation, led in August and being illustrated in Turin next Saturday, has provoked very strong reactions in the sindonologists’ world.  The elimination of “patches” sewn by the Clare nuns after the fire in Chambéry and the substitution of backing cloth with a new one are the two main points, on which a debate has already been opened. It is easy to foresee that the Saturday press conference will be very heated. The first perplexities regard the famous “patches”. The patches sewn on the sheet by the Clare nuns in 1534 were an important, meaningful and visual part of the Shroud history and patrimony. Was it urgent to remove them? Then, there is the problem of the way the operation has been led. Several voices in the sindonologists world complain that the operation has been decided by few people in the utmost reserve. If, as it seems, the next Shroud exhibition is not taking place until 2023, many wonder why the restoration proposal has not been the subject of a wider consultation, considering the religious value of the object. There is also a definitely more technical, but not less important, side, since the debate on the radiocarbon tests validity is still open. Many scientists are waiting for Saturday official declaration to give a complete description of all the preservation treatments, included whichever cleaning, brushing, or suction, led during the “restoration, so that the independent investigators can evaluate if involuntarily some damage has been made.” The scientists are also waiting to have a detailed explanation of the scientific examinations, the monitoring and the collection of samples, which have been carried out during the operation. They also wonder if the new backing cloth has been analyzed as to the presence of chemical residues or impurities that could affect the Shroud. The fear of some sindonologists is that the patches elimination and the cloth substitution have compromised significantly the possibility of “reading” the Shroud history in its secular development. The world-wide symposium of experts organized by the Archdiocese of Turin in March 2000 recommended: “A series of experiments specifically aimed at improving our knowledge for preservation purposes is essential, particularly considering the remarkable development of the instruments and the improvements in the non-invasive analytical methods.” This recommendation, the scientists complain, has not been followed, and they wonder why the investigators attending that convention, or the scientists of the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project), the scientific group that has probably carried out the widest and scientifically most coordinated research in 1978, have not been consulted with regard to the alterations or, in case, called to “monitoring” the operation and collecting the data at the right time. “Collegamento pro Sindone”, a very active group guided by Prof. Emanuela Marinelli, has also written to the Pope, the Shroud “owner”, protesting because the operation has provoked "the loss of precious material: dusts, pollens, particles of blood and other micro-traces present also in the up-to-now hidden parts of the Shroud.” The “Collegamento” proposal is that “the Commission for the preservation of the Holy Shroud may be widened, under the protection of the Papal Academy of Sciences”: that is, under the Pope’s  more direct control.