VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican publicly unveiled a handful of bone fragments purportedly belonging to St. Peter on Sunday, reviving the scientific debate and tantalizing mystery over whether the relics found in a shoe box truly belong to the first pope....Strange to think how close religious arbiters can come to spilling the beans without actually spilling them. If, as the archbishop suggested reasonably, it doesn't really matter whether the bones are 'real' or not, and if what matters is the devotion anyone accords to them, then how can anyone escape the conclusion that what is true of bone fragments is likewise true of any venerated item ... including the church itself?
[L]ast week, a top Vatican official, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said it almost doesn't matter if archaeologists one day definitively determine that the bones aren't Peter's, saying Christians have prayed at Peter's tomb for two millennia and will continue to, regardless....
"No Pope had ever permitted an exhaustive study, partly because a 1,000-year-old curse attested by secret and apocalyptic documents, threatened anyone who disturbed the peace of Peter's tomb with the worst possible misfortune," Bartoloni wrote.
Relics -- Christian, Buddhist or otherwise -- tend to make my teeth itch, but I cannot dismiss the human energy and longing that, rightly or wrongly, can be lavished on such items. If, as I generally hold, all religious persuasions are lies waiting for adherents to winkle out the truth, then who's to say that bone shards or soaring spires or ornate rituals cannot act as a useful catalyst?
It's not whether such things are bullshit or not. It's what anyone grows in the bullshit.