Abp. Sheen Battled Cdl. Dolan’s Predecessor

News: Commentary
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  February 12, 2018   

Cdl. Spellman: "I will get even with you"

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Monsignor Hilary Franco is again alleging that Abp. Fulton Sheen had an unspoken desire to be buried at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The monsignor doesn't claim, however, that Abp. Sheen loved the archdiocese of New York nor does he mention how Abp. Sheen was attacked by Cdl. Timothy Dolan's predecessor, the late Cdl. Francis Spellman.

In 1957, Cdl. Spellman gave free, government-surplus milk to Abp. Fulton Sheen's Society for the Propagation of the Faith for use in the missions. The cardinal later demanded the society pay the New York archdiocese $1 million for the milk. When Abp. Sheen refused, Cdl. Spellman accused him in person before Pope Pius XII. After calling President Dwight Eisenhower, who verified the surplus milk was free, Pius XII sided with Abp. Sheen in the case.

Outside of Pius XII's office, the infuriated Cdl. Spellman turned to Abp. Sheen and threatened, "I will get even with you!" Using his influence with the media, Cdl. Spellman got Abp. Sheen's popular TV show canceled and exiled Abp. Sheen to the diocese of Rochester, New York — referred to by many as an "ecclesiastical Siberia."

Three years later, Cdl. Spellman died and Abp. Sheen, then still a bishop, resigned as the ordinary of Rochester to again focus on using the media for evangelization. For those three years, however, the cares of the diocese in upstate New York took Abp. Sheen away from his ministry of evangelizing millions of people by use of the media.

The cause for canonization of Abp. Sheen that's being fostered by Bp. Daniel Jenky in Peoria, Illinois, is now being stonewalled by Cdl. Dolan, who refuses to relinquish Sheen's body to Peoria. Until this happens, Abp. Sheen's Shrine as planned in Peoria will not be built. This shrine will be a source of Abp. Sheen's wisdom, example and grace so needed in the Church today.

Once again the archbishop of New York is hampering Abp. Sheen's ability to evangelize the masses by use of the media. This ongoing struggle, in light of the previous difficulties that Abp. Sheen had with the archdiocese of New York, led even a liberal publication to remark that "even in death, Sheen may not be free of his battles with bishops."

Watch the panel discuss Abp. Sheen's ongoing struggles with archdiocese of New York in The Download—Blocking Sainthood.


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