Petition: Set a Date for Fulton Sheen’s Beatification!

News: US News
by Christine Niles  •  •  May 8, 2023   

Cause blocked for more than three years

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PEORIA, Ill. ( - A worldwide petition has been launched urging the Vatican to move forward with the beatification of Ven. Abp. Fulton J. Sheen.

"A dead-stopped Cause for Canonization for one of America's most beloved bishops has spurred an urgent petition to reopen and move forward with his cause for sainthood and to put a spotlight on the paused cause," reads the description for the website of the Fulton Sheen Movement.

"The stunning silence from the Vatican and American Catholic hierarchy, nor any signal that this will move forward, is what ignited the Fulton Sheen Movement and its global petition, the SET THE DATE FOR SHEEN campaign," it continues.

Sheen's cause was abruptly halted in December 2019 after interference by Bp. Salvatore Matano of the diocese of Rochester, New York.
The diocese had 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. All of this took place 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. Matano intervened on Nov. 19, however, strongly objecting, leading to the Vatican's decision to halt the cause indefinitely.
More than three years have passed, with no word from the Vatican as to where the cause stands.
"This is a scandal," said Dr. Howard, architect of the petition and founder of the Fulton Sheen Institute. "A baby resurrection miracle has been approved and all aspects of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's tenure as Bishop of Rochester thoroughly investigated by Rome and the state of New York Attorney General's office with nothing found to impede his cause."
Church Militant was the only Catholic media on the scene to film footage of Sheen's body being disinterred from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York on June 27, 2019, to be transported to his home diocese of Peoria, Illinois. Peoria began his cause for canonization 20 years ago, spending nearly $1 million in the process.

The disinterment was the culmination of three years of litigation between Joan Sheen Cunningham — at the time the closest living relative to Abp. Sheen — and the New York archdiocese. Peoria had relied on the promises of Cdl. Timothy Dolan's predecessor, Cdl. Edward Egan, to give Peoria Sheen's remains at the appropriate time. When that time came, however, 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 five times, 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.

"The diocese of Peoria is beyond overjoyed with this latest ruling of the New York Court of Appeals," said Msgr. James Kruse, vicar general for the diocese of Peoria, in comments to Church Militant at the time. "Once again the New York court system has upheld Joan Sheen Cunningham's petition."

Steve Cohn, attorney for Cunningham, told Church Militant, "The Court of Appeals did the right thing. 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.
Church Militant contacted the Peoria diocese to inquire whether it has any news of his cause, but received no response. 


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