ROCHESTER, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new statement from the diocese of Rochester, New York paints a false picture of its role in halting Ven. Abp. Fulton Sheen's beatification.
Two days after the diocese of Peoria, Illinois announced that the Holy See is placing Sheen's beatification on indefinite hold, the diocese of Rochester issued a statement Thursday clarifying its own actions with regard to his cause:
The Diocese of Rochester, prior to any announcements of the beatification, provided the Diocese of Peoria and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints through the Office of the Apostolic Nuncio with documentation that expressed concern about advancing the cause for the beatification of Archbishop Sheen at this time without a further review of his role in priests' assignments. ...
The Diocese of Rochester did its due diligence in this matter and believed that, while not casting suspicion, it was prudent that Archbishop Sheen’s cause receive further study and deliberation, while also acknowledging the competency of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to render its decision. The Holy See ultimately decided to postpone the beatification.
While the statement does not go into details, reports on Wednesday confirmed the objections revolved around former priest Gerard Guli, who served in Rochester in the early 1960s and was accused of abuse in 1963, and afterwards transferred to the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. All of this took place before Sheen arrived as bishop of Rochester in 1966.
Rochester's current bishop, Salvatore Matano, had sent the documentation on Guli to Rome earlier this summer, which was thoroughly examined by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, with Sheen cleared of all wrondoing. The evidence showed that Sheen had never assigned Guli to any priestly ministry before, during or after Sheen's tenure in Rochester.
When questioned, Guli himself confirmed that Sheen had never given him an assignment.
Thus cleared, the Vatican announced on Nov. 18 that Sheen's beatification was approved and would be scheduled for Dec. 21.
Church Militant has confirmed with inside sources that Matano immediately sent a letter the next day to the papal nuncio, Abp. Christophe Pierre, strongly objecting to Sheen's beatification.
This letter is never mentioned in the diocese's Thursday statement, which gave the false impression that Matano had never intervened after Rome announced Sheen's beatification.
"The diocese of Rochester cannot support the beatification taking place as scheduled," the Nov. 19 letter from Matano states. "It requires further study and examination."
"Our diocese requires that the beatification be delayed," the letter insists.
In a veiled criticism of Bp. Daniel Jenky, Matano writes, "Peoria's announcement is disturbing."
"Rochester would be forthright in doing its due diligence if the press inquired about this," he adds.
Matano's Nov. 19 letter raises no new allegations against Sheen, but served as the catalyst to put a halt to Sheen's beatification.
Sources also confirm that Matano would not have the clout on his own to block Sheen's cause, but consulted with New York's Cdl. Timothy Dolan, who lent his support, as well as Chicago's Cdl. Blase Cupich, whose stature in Rome has grown ever since Pope Francis appointed him to lead the sex abuse summit in February.
Guli was accused of abuse of adults in 1963, and reassigned to the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia afterwards. His name was listed on the Rochester diocese's roster of priests removed between 2002 and 2012. He was eventually laicized.
The Vatican has so far issued no statement addressing its decision to halt Sheen's beatification, while Vaticanista Rocco Palmo, who is generally considered reliable, published a tweet claiming that sources say the "Sheen cause is over" — "read, permanently."