Pastor's Page
By Fr. George Welzbacher
March 24, 2013

Habemus papam! We have a pope! Thanks be to God! The newly elected successor to St. Peter (the 266th), Jorge [George] Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, henceforth to be styled Pope Francis, made a robustly reassuring impression on the hundred thousand or so of the faithful who had stood for hours in St. Peter's Square enduring heavy rain and late winter chill to hear in person the words just cited, to be able to say: "I was there!" And surely he left the same impression on the vast majority of those countless millions across the globe who were eye-witnesses at a greater remove thanks to the magic of electronics.  Quasi-Catholic "progressive" thinkers are no doubt busying themselves at this very moment expressing (to anyone willing to listen) their disappointment that the man selected to lead the church has shown in the past an unwillingness even to consider approval of contraception, abortion, gay marriage and the ordination of women priests, all major items in the politically correct agenda that a Church guided by the Holy Spirit could never possibly approve, for the abiding reason that the first three of those items violate human nature, while the fourth contradicts the will of Christ as evidenced in His practice. But genuine Catholics felt that in seeing and listening to the tall, serene figure clothed in white on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica humbly asking for our prayers and bending low in silence to join in them before bestowing his first papal blessing - in him we were beholding a leader who is unafraid, a shepherd we can trust because his soul confides in the Lord and is led by the Holy Spirit. We have the sense that here is a man who will lead us safely home to God. Secure in Christ's truth and thus assured of Christ's protection, he seems not at all cowed by the forces of evil that the world, the flesh and the devil have marshaled against him. Let us do our part by continuing to support him with our prayers and by offering him as Christ's Vicar on earth hearts willing to obey.

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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 Toumefortii 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 by 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 the 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 modem 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.

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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Two weeks ago in my Pastor's Page I made reference to America's enemies as enthusiastically "sharpening their knives." I was alluding of course to the massive military build-up that forces hostile to the U.S.A. are pursuing at this very moment. It strikes me therefore as more than passing strange that, at this precise juncture, and coming swiftly on the heels of REDUCTIONS ALREADY AUTHORIZED in the funding of our national defense to the sum of HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS, Mr. Obama's "Sequester" policy would have us slash A FURTHER HALF TRILLION MORE. What all of this comes down to is that we are so eroding our power as to invite in the near future aggression against our allies, especially those in the western Pacific, and eventually quite plausibly aggression against America itself.

What is true of our nation's enemies is equally true of the enemies of the Church, enemies that are showing themselves to be not in the least sluggish in "sharpening THEIR knives." Scarcely had Pope Francis been vested in the papal white when a former Marxist terrorist, now a left-wing journalist who supports - and is supported by - Argentina's far-left government, recycled a long discredited charge that when Father Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) served as provincial of the Argentinian Jesuits he had failed to act with sufficient energy and speed to secure the release of two Jesuit priests who, as exponents of Marxist Liberation Theology agitating for armed insurgency, had been arrested and subjected to torture during the seven wretched years (1976 to 1983) of Argentinian military dictatorship.

The Wall Street Journal's specialist commentator on Latin America, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, in her column for Monday, March 18th, effectively refuted this moth-eaten charge. Here is what she had to say.

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Argentines celebrated last week when one their own was chosen as the new pope. But they also suffered a loss of sorts. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a tireless advocate of the poor and outspoken critic of corruption, will no longer be on hand locally to push back against the malfeasance of the government of President Cristina Kirchner.

Argentines not aligned with the regime hope that the arrival of Francis on the world stage will at least draw attention to this issue. Heaven knows the situation is growing dire.

One might have expected a swell of pride from Argentine officialdom when the news broke that the nation has produced a man so highly esteemed around the world. Instead the Kirchner government's pit bulls in journalism - men such as Horacio Verbitsky, a former member of the guerrilla group known as THE MONTONEROS and now an editor at the pro-government newspaper Pagina 12- immediately began a campaign to smear the new pontiff's character and reputation at home and in the international news media.

The calumny is not new. Former members of terrorist groups like Mr. Verbitsky, and their modern-day fellow travelers in the Argentine government, have used the same tactics for years to try to destroy their enemies-anyone who doesn't endorse their brand of authoritarianism. In this case THEY ALLEGE that as the Jesuits' provincial superior in Argentina in the late 1970s, then- Father Bergoglio HAD LINKS TO THE MILITARY GOVERNMENT.

This is propaganda. Mrs. Kirchner and her friends AREN'T YET living in the equivalent of a totalitarian state where there is NO free press to counter their lies. That day MAY come soon. The government is now pressuring merchants under threat of reprisals not to buy advertising in newspapers [that do not adhere to the government's party line]. The only newspapers that aren't on track to be financially ruined by this intimidation are those that the government controls and finances through official advertising, like Mr. Verbitsky's Pagina 12. Argentines refer to the paper as "the official gazette" because it so reliably prints the government's line.

Intellectually HONEST observers with FIRSTHAND knowledge of Argentina under military rule (1976-1983) are telling A MUCH DIFFERENT STORY than the one pushed by Mr. Verbitsky and his ilk. One of those observers is ADOLFO PÉREZ ESQIVEL, winner of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize. Last week he told BBC Mundo that "there WERE bishops that were complicit with the dictatorship, but BERGOGLIO, NO." As to the charge that the priest didn't do enough to free junta prisoners, Mr. Pérez Esqivel said: "I know personally MANY bishops who asked FOR the liberation of prisoners and priests and it was NOT granted."

Former Judge Alicia Oliveira, who was herself fired by the military government and went into hiding to avoid arrest, told the Argentine newspaper Perfil last week that during those dark days she knew Father Bergoglio well and that "he helped MANY people get out of the country." In one case, she says there was a young man on the run who happened to look like the Jesuit. "He gave him his identification card and his [clergy attire] so that he could escape."

Ms. Oliveira also told Perfil that when she was in hiding at the home of the current minister of security, Niloda Garré, the two of them "ate with Bergoglio." As Ms. Oliveira pointed out, Ms. Garré " therefore KNOWS all that he did."

Graciela Fernández Mejide, a human rights activist and former member of the national commission on the disappearance of persons, told the Argentine press last week that "of all the testimony I received, NEVER did I receive ANY testimony that BERGOGLIO was connected to the dictatorship."

None of this matters to those trying to turn Argentina into the next Venezuela. What embitters them is that Father Bergoglio believed that Marxism (and the related "liberation theology") was ANTITHETICAL to Christianity and REFUSED to embrace it in the 1970s. That put him in the way of those INSIDE the Jesuit order at the time who BELIEVED in revolution. It also put him at odds with THE MONTONEROS, WHO WERE MAIMING, KIDNAPPING AND KILLING CIVILIANS in order to terrorize the population. Many of those criminals are still around and hold fast to their revolutionary dreams.

For them, the new none remains a meddlesome priest. In the slums where the populist Mrs. Kirchner claims to be a champion of the poor, Francis is TRULY beloved because he LIVES the gospel, From the pulpit, with the Kirchners in the pews, he famously complained of self-absorbed politicians. He didn't name names, but the shoe fit. Nestór Kirchner, the late president and Cristina's husband, responded by naming him "the head of the opposition."

As Ms. Fernández Meijide observed last week, "I have the impression that what bothers the current president is that Bergoglio would NOT get in line, that HE DENOUNCES THE CONTINUATION of EXTREME poverty." That's not the regime's approved narrative.
[Emphasis added].

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