You no doubt have already heard the news. If you are like most of us, you may be feeling shock and dismay. The cause for the canonization of Bishop Fulton Sheen has been derailed by the Archdiocese of New York for reasons unknown. And it has been accomplished through what appears to be nothing more significant than a procedural technicality
Bishop Sheen, who was ordained a priest in the diocese of Peoria, Illinois, in 1919, was expected to have his body returned from New York City to his home diocese where it would be examined and first-class relics would be taken, all while waiting for the miracle attributed to his intercession to be approved by Rome.
The miracle itself was not insignificant. It wasn’t the sort of case that left room for medical dispute. A stillborn baby, dead for an hour, was brought back to life through Sheen’s intercession. Things were moving forward. All signs were positive.
And then last night, the bombshell dropped.
It is with immense sadness that the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria andPresident of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, announced today that the Cause forSheen’s beatification and canonization has for the foreseeable future been suspended. The process to verify a possible miracle attributed to Sheen had been going extremely well, and only awaited a vote of the Cardinals and the approval of the Holy Father. There was every indication that a possible date for beatification in Peoria would have been scheduled for as early as the coming year.
The Holy See expected that the remains of Venerable Sheen would be moved to Peoria where official inspection would be made and first class relics be taken. Subsequently, the Archdiocese of New York denied Bishop Jenky’s request to move the body to Peoria. After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen Cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive.
Bonnie Engstrom, the mother of the little boy who was healed in the miracle attributed to Sheen, also made a statement on her website:
We are sad, angry, and – quite frankly – scandalized to learn that the Sheen Foundation has no other choice but to shut down Fulton Sheen’s cause for beatification and canonization.At this point in the cause it is the canonical norm that the Sheen Foundation would examine Sheen’s body and acquire first class relics for the faithful to reverence, et cetera, because we’re Catholic and that’s what we do. The Archdiocese of New York has refused to allow the Sheen Foundation to do so, despite the fact that even the Vatican has expected it of them, despite the fact that they had previously assured the Sheen Foundation and Bishop Jenky that they would.We had every reason to hope that James’ alleged miracle of being brought back to life and full health after being dead for over an hour would soon be approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and then the Holy Father, thus allowing for Sheen’s beatification to occur. We feel very strongly that James’ story and the life and writings of Fulton Sheen contain an awesome potential to change hearts, bring souls to Christ, and glorify Almighty God. It is a shame that this good work has been brought to a standstill by the Archdiocese of New York.
Now we are, I would say, in the fourth great crisis, in a tremendous confusion over doctrine and liturgy. We have already been in this for 50 years. Perhaps God will be merciful to us in 20 or 30 years? Nevertheless we have all the beauty of the divine truths, of divine love and grace in the Church. No one can take this away, no synod, no bishop, not even a Pope can take away the treasure and beauty of the Catholic faith, of the Eucharistic Jesus, of the sacraments. The unchangeable doctrine, the unchangeable liturgical principles, the holiness of the life constitute the true power of the Church.[…]We have to pray that God will guide his Church from this crisis and give to his Church apostles who are courageous and holy. We need defenders of the truth and defenders of the Eucharistic Jesus. When a bishop is defending the flock and defending Jesus in the Eucharist, then this bishop is defending the little ones in the Church, not the powerful ones.[…]
It is quite insignificant to be popular or unpopular. For every clergy the first interest is to be popular in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of today or of the powerful. Jesus said a warning: Woe of you when people speak good of you.
Popularity is false. Jesus and the apostles rejected popularity. Great saints of the Church, e.g. SS Thomas More and John Fisher, rejected popularity and they are the great heroes. And those who today are worried with the popularity of the mass media and public opinion, they will not be remembered in the history. They will be remembered as cowards and not as heroes of the Faith.
[H]ere is your call to action. If you want to see Fulton Sheen beatified and then canonized we need the Archdiocese of New York to cooperate and we need the Vatican to know that we are upset!Please, write to the congregation – have every single person you know write to them! Homeschoolers – you have your handwriting lesson for this week! Catholic school teachers – here is yours! DRE’s – have your CCD students write on Sunday! Moms, dads, grandparents, nuns, brothers, single people, college students – write to the Congregation (and hey! write to or call Dolan’s office too – we will!) and tell them that you want to see Fulton Sheen’s cause reopened and his body to be moved to Peoria, IL!
You, me, all of us raising a big stink – maybe we can make a change! Let the Vatican know that we want Sheen canonized and that they need to do something about it!
You can mail the Congregation for the Causes of Saints with this address:
Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Vatican City State 00120 Europe
You can mail a letter (in Spanish if you know it) to the Pope with this address:
His Holiness Pope Francis
Vatican City State 00120 Europe
Heavenly Father, source of all holiness, You raise up within the Church in every age men and women who serve with heroic love and dedication. You have blessed Your Church through the life and ministry of Your faithful servant, Archbishop Fulton J Sheen. He has written and spoken well of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and was a true instrument of the Holy Spirit in touching the hearts of countless people.
If it be according to Your Will, for the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the salvation of souls, we ask You to move the Church to proclaim him a saint. We ask this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord.Amen.Imprimatur:
+Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., Bishop of Peoria
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.