Pastor's Page
By Fr. George Welzbacher
April 1, 2012

In Holy Weeks past I have reprinted in the Pastor's Page a fascinating report on the evidence found within the Shroud of Turin pointing to a DOUBLE CROWN OF THORNS. The report, written by Shafer Parker, Jr., appeared in the April 13, 2003 issue of the National Catholic Register. May I share it with you once again, with extensive abridgment.
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Shroud's TWO Crowns of Thorns Show Crucifixion's Brutality.

Two researchers at Duke University Medical. Center say they have perceived signs of a SECOND object in the head area of the image of the Shroud of Turin.

Dr. Alan Whanger, professor emeritus at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. and director of the Council for Study of the Shroud of Turin, ( together with his wife, Mary, published their finding that high-grade enhanced photographs of the Shroud of Turin reveal the image of a band of woven straw. It perfectly matches the size and shape of the well-known Crown of Thorns now housed in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. This circlet would have rested on the back of Jesus' head reaching down to the upper part of the neck.

The shroud, a sheet of fine linen some 14 feet long and 3.54 feet wide, contains the life-sized negative image, front and back, of a crucified man, complete with nail prints and bloodstains. Pope John Paul II himself has venerated it as the shroud that Christ was buried in. According to the Whangers, the newly perceived object is actually a second crown of thorns.        And although Scripture has never been interpreted as mentioning two crowns, Whanger argues that his discovery of a second crown is yet more proof that the man represented on the shroud is Jesus. "Two crowns would be entirely consistent with what WE know about the period," he said. "If the shroud were actually a MEDIEVAL forgery based ONLY upon Gospel accounts, as some scientists have claimed, they'd never have thought to include TWO separate crowns."

Whanger, who is a Methodist, suggests that when Pilate sent Jesus to be flogged, the soldiers naturally decided to mock the supposed King of the Jews as a ROMAN EMPEROR, complete with purple robe (which is mentioned in the Gospels), with an encircling crown on the back of the head. It would have been the work of a moment, he says, to twist a few bands of straw together, stick a few thorns and thistles through the back and then jam it on Christ's head.

Later, the soldiers must have been inspired to mock Jesus as a Jewish HIGH PRIEST, which led to the construction of the larger, bonnet-like crown made from the Gundelia Tournefortil thorn tree, as confirmed on the shroud by Avinoam Danin, Professor of botany at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a world authority on the flora of the Near East.

The GUNDELIA TREE possesses thorns so sharp and strong the maker would have been forced to wear leather gloves. The larger crown, first identified on the shroud by the Whangers several years ago, effectively mocked the multi-tiered crown worn by the Jewish high priest. "The high priest's crown would have been well known to the soldiers," the Whangers said, "since it was kept locked in the Antonia Fortress and only released to the high priest for his use during festivals."

Finding a second crown on the shroud helps explain why the Crown of Thorns in Paris has no thorns. Because the thorns had merely been stuck through the straw bands to begin with, they either remained embedded in the crucified man's neck when the crown was removed, or they fell from the mid-forehead to the low back of the neck. The wounds on the TOP would have come from the bonnet-like high priest's crown, while those on the NECK would have come from the emperor's circlet.

Though impossible to authenticate as to date, the shroud has been venerated since at least the 14th century (but possibly as early as the second century) as the actual winding sheet used at Jesus' burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

But it has only been in the last 30 years that modern science has been able to uncover a number of clues, including pollen spores and microscopic grains of soils UNIQUE to Jerusalem and Palestine, that increase the probability that the shroud once wrapped the Messiah's body.

Abiding Mystery
But the abiding mystery is HOW the images of a crucified man and crucifixion-related objects become IMPRINTED on the shroud at all.

Canadian physicist, Thaddeus Trenn, director of the science and religion program at the University of Toronto, has hypothesized that a massive influx of energy similar to a CONTROLLED NUCLEAR EVENT actually overcame the strong force that bound together the protons and the neutrons in the body of the man lying in the shroud.

Such an instantaneous event would have released MASSIVE amounts of X-rays, leading to a rapid, BUT COOL, DEHYDRATION of the cellulose fibers in the fabric that resulted in a NEGATIVE image of the man and, due to the enormous amounts of energy present, a CORONAL discharge that led to imprints of OTHER items buried with the body.

Trenn has noted that this dematerialization theory is supported by DISTORTIONS in the shroud image that indicate that it was COLLAPSING in upon itself AT THE PRECISE MOMENT that the image was being produced. And only dematerialization explains how the body could have been lifted away from the blood that had soaked into the fabric while leaving no trace of pulled fibrils on the fabric's surface....
[Emphasis added].
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Throughout today's society Satan's influence can be perceived in any number of ways, one of them being the tsunami of pornography in which our culture is drowning, with resultant degradation of human dignity, desecration of the institution of marriage, and, more destructive still, the placing of immortal souls in very real danger of everlasting damnation. "No impure person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." (Ephesians 5:5). Satanic inspiration is manifest, too, in a society awash with innocent blood, the gift of Roe v. Wade. The slaughter of over fifty million defenseless children, helpless in their mothers' wombs, lies heavily on our conscience. And NOW efforts are under away to EXTEND the reach of Roe v. Wade to include the murder of babies even AFTER their emergence into the light of day, despite the guarantees of American citizenship that they have thus acquired.

For years Princeton University's professor of bioethics, Peter Singer, three of whose grandparents died at Auschwitz, has, for all of that, been agitating in the classroom and in forums organized by the media for the legalization of infanticide, the killing of the newly born. So, too, President Barack Obama (Planned Parenthood's best ever friend), early in his career as senator in the state legislature of Illinois, cast his vote (as things turned out, the only such vote) to deny medical assistance to infants that survive a botched abortion. And now just within the last few weeks two prominent "bioethicists" from Australia published in the Journal of Medical Ethics a new appeal for the legalization of infanticide, the killing of infants AFTER they are born, whenever their mothers, experiencing post-partum a change of mind, decide that, all things considered, they really would prefer not be bothered with motherhood. And it goes without saying that euthanasia, murder at the other end of life's spectrum, seems more and more to be "the next progressive thing." (Witness Washington state and Oregon). The satanic "culture of death" is spreading like a plague.

May I share with you here an astonishing report from that splendid (and highly readable) magazine The Weekly Standard. (If I had to restrict my reading to only one magazine, this is the magazine I would choose.)
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Declaring War on Newborns
Andrew Ferguson
The Weekly Standard, March 9, 2012

On the list of the world's most unnecessary occupations - aromatherapist, golf pro, journalism professor, vice president of the United States - that of medical ethicist ranks very high. They are happily employed by pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and other outposts of the vast medical-industrial combine, where their job is to advise the boss to go ahead with what he was going to do anyway ("Put it on the market!" "Pull the plug on the geezer!" ). They also attend conferences, where they take turns sitting on panels talking with one another and then sitting in the audience watching panels of other medical ethicists talking with one another. Their professional specialty is the "thought experiment," which is the best kind of experiment because you don't have to buy test tubes or leave the office. And sometimes they get jobs at universities, teaching other people to become ethicists. It is a cozy, happy world they live in.

But it was painfully roiled last month, when a pair of medical ethicists took to their profession's bible, the Journal of Medical Ethics, and published an essay with a misleadingly inconclusive title: "After-birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?" It was a misleading title because the authors believe the answer to the questions is: "Beats me."

Right at the top, the ethicists summarized the point of their article. "What we call 'after-birth abortion' (killing a NEWBORN) should be PERMISSIBLE in ALL the cases where ABORTION is permissible, including cases where the newborn is NOT disabled."

The argument made by the authors - Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, both of them affiliated with prestigious universities in Australia and ethicists of pristine reputation - runs as follows. Let's suppose a woman gets pregnant. She decides to go ahead with and have the baby on the assumption that her personal circumstances, and her views on such things as baby-raising, will remain the same through the day she gives birth and beyond.

Then she gives birth. Perhaps the baby is disabled or suffers a disease. Perhaps her boyfriend or (if she's old-fashioned) her husband abandons her, leaving her in financial peril. Or perhaps she's decided that she's just not the mothering kind, for, as the authors write, "having a child can itself be an UNBEARABLE BURDEN for the psychological health of the woman or for her already existing children, REGARDLESS of the condition of the fetus."

The authors point out that each of these conditions - the baby is sick or suffering, the baby will be a financial hardship, the baby will be personally troublesome - IS NOW LARGELY ACCEPTED as a GOOD reason for a mother to ABORT her baby BEFORE he's born. So why not AFTER?

"When circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible (Their italics.) [The clumsiness of their English matches the sloppiness of their thought]. Western societies APPROVE abortion because they have reached a consensus that a FETUS is NOT a PERSON; they should acknowledge that by the SAME definition A NEWBORN ISN'T A PERSON EITHER. Neither fetus nor baby has developed a sufficient SENSE of his own life to know what it would be like to be deprived of it. The kid will never know the difference, in other words. A newborn baby is just a fetus who's hung around a bit too long.

As the authors acknowledge, this makes an "after-birth abortion" a tricky business. You have to get to the infant BEFORE he develops "those properties that JUSTIFY the attribution of a right to life to an individual." It's a race against time.

The article doesn't go on for more than 1,500 words, but for non-ethicists it has a high surprise-per-word ratio. The information that newborn babies aren't people is just the beginning. A reader learns that "many NON-human animals ... are PERSONS" and therefore enjoy a "RIGHT to life." (Such ruminative ruminants, unlike babies, are self-aware enough to know that getting killed will entail a "loss of value.") The authors don't fell us which species these "non-human persons" belong to, but IT'S safe to say that you don't want to take a medical ethicist to dinner at Outback.

But what about adoption, you ask. The authors ask that question, too, noting that some people - you and me, for example - might think that adoption could buy enough time for the unwanted newborn to technically become a person and "possibly increase the happiness of the people involved." But this is not a viable option, if you'll forgive the expression. A mother who kills her newborn baby, the authors report, is forced to "accept the irreversibility of the loss."   By contrast, a mother who gives her baby up for adoption "might suffer psychological distress." And for a very simple reason: These mothers "often dream that their child will return to them. This makes it difficult to accept the reality of the loss because they can never be quite sure whether or not it is irreversible." It's simpler for all concerned just to make sure the loss CAN'T be reversed. IT'LL SPARE MOM a lot of heartbreak.

Now, it's at this point in the Journal of Medical Ethics that many readers will begin to suspect, as I did, that their legs are being not very subtly pulled. The inversion that the argument entails is Swiftian - a twenty-first century Modest Proposal without the cannibalism (for now). [Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Anglican priest and, in his later years, dean of St. Patrick's Church in Dublin, author of Guliver's Travels, wrote with tongue in cheek, A Modest Proposal, to protest English misrule in Ireland, suggesting that perhaps the next step in England's government of the Irish would be to kill the children of the poor so as to provide food for the tables of the rich.] Jonathan Swift's original Modest Proposal called for killing Irish children to prevent them "from being a burden to their parents." It was death by compassion, the killing of innocents based on a surfeit of fellow-feeling. The authors agree that compassion itself DEMANDS the death of newborns. Unlike Swift, though, THEY aren't kidding.

They got you coming and going, these guys. They assume - and they won't get much argument from their peers in the profession - that "mentally impaired" infants are eligible for elimination because they will never develop the properties necessary to be fully human. Then they discuss Treacher-Collins syndrome, which causes facial deformities and respiratory ailments but no mental impairment. Kids with TCS are "fully aware of their condition, of being different from other people and of all the problems their pathology entails," and are therefore, to spare them a life of such unpleasant awareness, eligible for elimination too - because they are not mentally impaired. The threshold to this "right to life" just gets higher and higher, the more you think about it. [As editor of the Harvard Law Review Barack Obama contributed only one comment, no major article, in a break with tradition. This comment took the form of a footnote to another author's essay. The footnote supported the thesis that abortion in the inner city is an act of mercy, saving the fetus from growing up DOOMED to a lifetime of pain. and despair].

And of course it is their business to think about it. It's what medical ethicists get paid to do: cogitate, cogitate, cogitate. As "After-birth Abortion" spread around the world and gained wide publicity - that damned Internet - non-ethicists greeted it with derision or shock or worse. The authors and the editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics were themselves shocked at the response. As their inboxes flooded with hate mail, the authors composed an apology of sorts that non-ethicists will find more revealing even than the original paper.

"We are really SORRY that many people, WHO DO NOT SHARE THE BACKGROUND of the INTENDED audience for this article, felt offended, outraged, or even threatened," they wrote. "The article was SUPPOSED to be read by other fellow bioethicists who were ALREADY familiar- with this topic and our arguments." It was a thought experiment. After all, among medical ethicists "this debate" - about when it's proper to kill babies - "has been going on for 40 years."

So that's what they've been talking about in all those panel discussions! The authors thought they were merely taking the next step in a train of logic that was set in motion, and has been widely accepted, since their profession was invented in the 1960s. And of course they were. The outrage directed at their article came from laymen - people unsophisticated in contemporary ethics. Medical ethicists in general expressed few objections, only a minor annoyance that the authors had let the cat out of the bag. A few days after it was posted the article was removed from the PUBLICLY accessible area of the Journal's website, sending it back to that happy, cozy world.

You'd have to be very, very well trained in ethics to see the authors' argument as a morally acceptable extension of their premises, but you can't deny the logic of it. The rest of us will see in the argument an extension of its premises into self-indulgent absurdity. Pro-lifers should take note.

And now we know the pro-choice position is that children born with a FACIAL deformity should be executed, too, as long as you get to them quick enough. Unwittingly the insouciant authors of "After-birth Abortion" have shown where pro-choicers wind up IF they follow their beliefs about fetuses to its LOGICAL end. They've performed a public service. Could it be that medical ethicists really are more useful than aromatherapists?
[Emphasis added].
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