Source: The Economist:
ON THE eve of his first Easter Sunday celebration as bishop of Rome, Pope Francis sprang another of his teasing little surprises. As the Shroud of Turin, which is probably the Christian world’s most hotly contested holy relic, was given a rare showing on television, he issued a statement that urged people, in rather passionate terms, to contemplate the object with awe; but he also stopped firmly short of asserting its authenticity.
In a carefully worded message, he asked and answered a rhetorical question: “How is it that the faithful, like you, pause before this icon of a man scourged and crucified? It is because the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth.” An icon, in Christian terminology, is very different from an idol. In theology as in computer-speak, an icon is a sort of window that can lead the user into a different reality. But people can miss the point of an icon, so the theory goes, if they focus too much on the object itself (its age, its construction, its history) and forget to gaze beyond it.