No one, not even the scientists who conducted radiocarbon-dating tests on the Shroud of Turin, knows yet whether it is Christ's burial cloth or a Medieval fake, a church expert said Saturday.
Luigi Gonella took issue with a report in a London newspaper that scientists at Oxford University had determined the shroud is a fake, probably dating to about the year 1350."How can anyone know the results when, if the laboratories followed the procedure that they themselves asked for, the tests were blind?" Luigi Gonella asked.
Gonella, professor of physical instrumentation at the Turin Polytechnic Institute, acts as scientific adviser to Cardinal Anastasio Balestrero, archbishop of Turin and keeper of the shroud.
Only the British Museum knows which of four samples of cloth tested by the University of Arizona, the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and Oxford University came from the shroud, he said.
"Before the end of the year there will be a meeting to identify the sample and to compare results. Until then we cannot know anything," Gonella said in a telephone interview.
The time and place for the meeting have not yet been set, he said.
Gonella questioned the professional ethics and the credentials of Richard Luckett, a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, who wrote in the Evening Standard Friday that "as far as seems possible the scientific argument is now settled and the shroud is a fake."
"I don't understand how a person from a respectable university can make an affirmation on research carried out by another university, by other people," Gonella said.
"This person, Luckett, I don't know what he is professor of, but he is completely unknown in shroud research," Gonella said. He said the British Museum was unable to give him information on Luckett.
The authenticity of the shroud has been debated since the 14th century when the cloth, which bears the negative image of a bearded man and a pattern of blood stains indicating the body it wrapped had been crucified, first came to light.