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Pope Benedict says Shroud of Turin authentic burial robe of Jesus

Dismissing skeptics on Sunday when he visited the Shroud of Turin, Pope Benedict XVI said the burial cloth was none other than the same robe that once 'wrapped the remains' of Jesus Christ.

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Pope Benedict XVI delivers his message during a meeting with youths in San Carlo Square in Turin, Italy, Sunday.

Massimo Pinca/AP

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In the centuries-old debate over the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday diverged from his predecessor and weighed in favor of those who believe that the burial robe once cloaked Jesus Christ.

Pope Benedict described the shroud, which allegedly bears blood stains and the facial imprint of a long-haired, bearded man, as an icon that once “wrapped the remains of a crucified man in full correspondence with what the Gospels tell us of Jesus.”

While Pope Benedict joins the ranks of those who believe the sepia-colored shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, skeptics dismiss it as an ingenious medieval forgery that radiocarbon testing has dated about 800 years old.

The Vatican, which owns the linen cloth, has in the past tiptoed around the issue, describing it as a potent symbol of Jesus Christ’s suffering but never asserting outright its authenticity. Pope John Paul II visited the Shroud when it last went on public display in 1998, but he said the Catholic Church had "no specific competence” to pronounce on its authenticity and urged further scientific analysis.

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