Weren't their conspiracy theories trying to explain the carbon dating?
A whole series of conspiracy theories erupted to try and explain away the carbon dating the shroud. You can blame it on atheists, some said. The scientists doing the carbon dating tests must have switched the samples with bits of medieval cloth. If the shroud is real, they argued, it would do severe damage to secular humanism. There was of course no basis for this argument.
Others suggested that church officials switch the sample because they were afraid that the shroud might turn out to be a first century cloth. They argued that this would prove the shroud was a stolen relic and this would mean it would need to be returned to its rightful owners. No one seemed to consider the problem caused by the fact that the rightful owners, the Greek church of the Byzantine Empire, no longer existed.
The German newspaper Die Welt reported that Cardinal Ballestrero, the custodian of the shroud at the time of the carbon 14 dating, thought Free Masonry had played a role in producing false results. Quoting him from an interview with his private secretary, the newspaper reported:
With the examinations that I had myself authorized, as soon as the solemn exposition (of 1978) was over, science became unleashed and centres for study of the Shroud shot up everywhere, for the most part in Protestant countries. This context gave rise to the most insistent requests for an examination to be conducted using carbon 14. At the same time, vicious calumny about the Church was purposely being spread around, accusing it of being the enemy of science because it feared the truth and was frightened of losing the relics from which it made money.
Asked, pointedly if he thought that freemasonry had not played a certain role in all this campaign. "Without question," he said.