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Petition Launched for the Beatification of Fulton Sheen

A global petition has been launched urging the Vatican to move forward with the beatification of Ven. Abp. Fulton J. Sheen. The petition, called the "SET THE DATE FOR SHEEN" campaign, was created by the Fulton Sheen Movement to reopen and move forward with Sheen's cause for sainthood. The cause was abruptly halted in December 2019 after interference by Bishop Salvatore Matano of the Diocese of Rochester, New York.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen may soon be recognized as a Saint by the Vatican. But to be clear, it is God, not people, who makes saints.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen may soon be recognized as a Saint by the Vatican. But to be clear, it is God, not people, who makes saints.


By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
5/10/2023 (1 year ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: Fulton Sheen, Beatification, Vatican

The diocese initially presented allegations that Sheen mishandled abuse allegations regarding Fr. Gerard Guli, who served in Rochester in the early 1960s and was accused of abuse in 1963. He was transferred to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, before Sheen arrived as bishop of Rochester in 1966. After an investigation, the Vatican cleared Sheen of all wrongdoing and announced on Nov. 18, 2019, that his beatification would take place on Dec. 21. However, Bishop Matano strongly objected and intervened on Nov. 19, leading to the Vatican's decision to halt the cause indefinitely.

Dr. Howard, founder of the Fulton Sheen Institute and architect of the petition, expressed his frustration with the lack of progress on Sheen's cause, stating, "This is a scandal." He noted that a baby resurrection miracle has been approved and all aspects of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's tenure as Bishop of Rochester have been thoroughly investigated by Rome and the state of New York Attorney General's office with nothing found to impede his cause.

Sheen's body was disinterred from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York on June 27, 2019, and transported to his home diocese of Peoria, Illinois, where his cause for canonization had been initiated 20 years prior, spending nearly $1 million in the process. The disinterment was the culmination of three years of litigation between Joan Sheen Cunningham, the closest living relative to Sheen at the time, and the New York archdiocese. Peoria had relied on the promises of Cardinal Timothy Dolan's predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan, to give Peoria Sheen's remains at the appropriate time. However, when that time came, Dolan refused. After multiple meetings with Dolan proved fruitless, Cunningham was forced to bring the matter to court in 2016. The courts consistently ruled in Cunningham's favor, with the archdiocese appealing the rulings a total of five times and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

On June 8, New York's highest court ruled that Sheen's remains could be removed from St. Patrick's Cathedral and sent to Peoria, ending the litigation. Msgr. James Kruse, vicar general for the diocese of Peoria, expressed his joy at the ruling, stating, "The Diocese of Peoria is beyond overjoyed with this latest ruling of the New York Court of Appeals." Steve Cohn, attorney for Cunningham, added, "Finally, Abp. Sheen has the opportunity to continue what was his life's work for, hopefully, eternity."

Sheen's remains now rest in the shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria. However, there has been no news from the Peoria diocese regarding his cause for sainthood.

The "SET THE DATE FOR SHEEN" campaign aims to put a spotlight on the paused cause and urge the Vatican to move forward with Sheen's beatification. The lack of progress on Sheen's cause has frustrated many Catholics, who view him as one of America's most beloved bishops. Sheen was a prolific author, speaker, and television personality, known for his popular show, "Life is Worth Living."

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