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A priest with a brain tumor is asking for prayers from Ven. Abp. Fulton J. Sheen. He hopes it will result in a miracle leading to Sheen's canonization.
Our Lady of the Rosary Church in New Orleans recently posted the following request on its Facebook page:
Please pray for Fr. Jeffrey Montz
Fr. Jeffrey Montz, who has frequently offered Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary, was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. Please keep Fr. Jeffrey and his family and friends in your prayers during this difficult time for him.
Fr. Jeffrey has specifically asked that we pray for his healing through the intercession of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in hopes that a miracle may be granted to advance the cause of Archbishop Sheen's canonization. Please use the prayer below or pick up a prayer card in the back of church to offer your prayers for the healing of Fr. Jeffrey.
Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth,
through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ,
and by the working of the Holy Spirit. If it be according to your will,
glorify your servant Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen,
by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession:
that Fr. Jeffrey Montz will have a complete healing and recovery.
I make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Venerable Fulton Sheen, pray for him.
Father Jeffrey Montz is director of spiritual formation at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has a longtime devotion to Sheen, whose writings he focused on in his graduate thesis and whose spirituality he has spoken about publicly.
Sheen's cause has been on hold for years, first because of litigation over his remains involving the archdiocese of New York, followed by concerns lodged in 2019 by the Rochester diocese.
As Church Militant reported, the diocese of Peoria — where Sheen was born, raised and educated — began Sheen's cause for canonization 20 years ago, spending approximately $1 million gathering documentation and evidence, which was then sent to Rome.
A miracle involving the resurrection of a newborn born without a heartbeat or pulse for 61 minutes was officially confirmed by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 2011. Peoria followed by requesting that the archdiocese of New York send Sheen's remains — which were buried in the crypt of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan — to Peoria, as promised by the late New York archbishop Cdl. Edward Egan.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, however, reneged on the promise, and after fruitless attempts by the late Joan Sheen Cunningham, niece of Abp. Sheen, to resolve the matter, Cunningham sued the archdiocese for release of his remains to Peoria. As his then-closest living relative, Cunningham had rights over her uncle's body.
Over the course of three years of litigation, the courts repeatedly ruled in Cunningham's favor, granting her and by extension the Peoria diocese a major victory.
"I'm awfully glad it's gone our way," said Cunningham in comments to Church Militant at the time. "This is the third time [the court] has ruled in our favor. I just hope that this will be the end of it. ... It's been a long haul."
The court agreed to the date for Sheen's disinterment for June 27, 2019. In a remarkable coincidence, that date is the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help — the name of the shrine in Peoria prepared for Sheen's final resting place. The Peoria diocese confirmed with Church Militant that it had neither planned nor picked that date, seeing it as evidence of the divine hand in the matter.
After the Vatican confirmed the date of beatification for Dec. 21, 2019, Bp. Salvatore Matano raised concerns with the Vatican over Sheen's handling of abuse allegations against two priests when Sheen was bishop of Rochester in the 1960s.
A Vatican investigation in conjunction with Peoria, however, cleared Sheen of all wrongdoing, and Rome confirmed in December that the beatification could go forward. Matano, however, intervened again, citing unspecified allegations against Sheen involving "two or more accused priests."
But, only now after a media frenzy, Rochester has stated that there are undisclosed cases requiring examination. What are these cases? When did Rochester know of these cases? Until now, the undisclosed cases were unknown to Peoria and the Vatican. Why were these only announced now?
He went on to accuse the Rochester diocese of sabotage.
"The pattern is simple: The Sheen Cause takes a step forward and then the Rochester diocese acts to block the Beatification," he wrote. "When examining the pattern it is hard not to believe that the diocese of Rochester acts more to sabotage the Cause and less to protect the good of the Church."
Church Militant contacted the Rochester diocese to ask if it had any further concerns regarding Sheen. Spokesman Deacon Edward Giblin responded by emailing this organization a copy of its 2019 statement.
A follow-up query by Church Militant noted that the two-year window in New York extending the statute of limitations for sex abuse complaints had closed, and the Rochester diocese had not received any further allegations involving Sheen.
In light of this Church Militant asked, "Does Bp. Matano have any continuing objections to Sheen's beatification? If not, is Bp. Matano willing to withdraw his objections in order for the beatification to move forward?"
No report from the New York State Attorney General's Office, which is distinct from the lifting of the statute of limitations for the indicated period of time, has been issued to date.
The use of the words "objections" or "complaint" is incorrect. As noted in the statement, concerns were expressed in order that if and when the beatification were to occur it would be received in a positive, non-controversial manner.
The Diocese of Rochester will abide fully by the decision of the Holy See, who has the ultimate competence in this matter.
When Church Militant contacted the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Office Manager Msgr. Gianpaolo Rizzotti wrote, "In regards to this issue, please be so kind to write directly to the Bishop of Peoria for any useful information concerning the cause of the Venerable Servant of God."
Church Militant then contacted the diocese of Peoria, which responded by confirming that it was waiting on the sex abuse report from the N.Y. attorney general.
"We know that two out of three things are clear," said Msgr. Jason Gray, head of the Abp. Fulton Sheen Foundation. "The bankruptcy filing in Rochester did not produce any claims against Sheen, and the statute of limitations waiver [under the Child Victims Act] did not produce any new claims against Sheen. And so the only thing that we're waiting for is the attorney general."
Church Militant contacted the N.Y. attorney general's office asking whether it had a timeline for when it might release a report on the Rochester diocese. The office responded, "We do not have anything more to share at this time, but will be sure to let you know when we do."
Meanwhile, a worldwide petition has been launched urging the Vatican to set a date for Sheen's beatification.
"Everything required canonically by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for Sheen to be Blessed has been completed since 2014," says Dr. Peter Howard, founder of the Fulton Sheen Institute (not affiliated with the Abp. Fulton Sheen Foundation).
"The legal drama over his body was concluded in 2019," he noted. "At that same time, on 5 July 2019, Pope Francis issued a decree verifying a miracle through the intercession of Venerable Sheen."
"There remain no impediments for delaying the Mass for Sheen's beatification," he added. "Sheen is clean, heroic and the saint needed for our times."