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PEORIA, Ill. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The beatification of Abp. Fulton J. Sheen is being postponed after certain bishops lodged objections, according to a press release issued by the diocese of Peoria, Illinois.
Last month, the Vatican announced it had approved the long-awaited beatification of the popular archbishop, after a contentious legal battle between the New York archdiocese, which had refused to release his remains, and Joan Sheen Cunningham, Sheen's closest living relative, with legal rights over his body, who asked that his body be transferred to Peoria, Illinois, where Sheen was born, raised, went to seminary and was ordained a priest.
On June 8, New York's highest court ruled in Cunningham's favor, leading to the private 5 a.m. disinterment of Sheen's body from St. Patrick's Cathedral on June 27. Media were not informed of the event, although Church Militant was on the scene to capture exclusive footage of Sheen's casket as it was taken away.
According to the Peoria diocese's press release, several unnamed members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops "have asked for further consideration" of Sheen's beatification, originally scheduled for Dec. 21.
"In our current climate, it is important for the faithful to know that there has never been, nor is there now, any allegation against Sheen involving the abuse of a minor," the statement clarifies.
The diocese also makes clear that "[a]t no time has his life of virtue ever been called into question."
"This development is unfortunate especially because there continue to be many miracles reported through Sheen's intercession," the press release continues. "Several have even been reported since the announcement of the Beatification date two weeks ago. It is undoubtedly further proof for those who truly believe in this Cause that these miracles will be credited to the intercession of the Venerable Fulton Sheen in the future."
The identity of the bishops who have expressed concerns as well as their specific objections remain unknown.
The full press release follows:
With deep regret, Bishop Daniel Jenky, C.S.C., Bishop of Peoria, announces that he has been informed by the Holy See that the Beatification of Fulton Sheen will be postponed.
On November 18, 2019, the Diocese of Peoria received formal notification that Pope Francis had approved the Beatification of Fulton Sheen to take place on December 21st of this year. However, on December 2nd, the Holy See decided to postpone the date of Beatification, at the request of a few members of the Bishop’s Conference who have asked for further consideration. In our current climate, it is important for the faithful to know that there has never been, nor is there now, any allegation against Sheen involving the abuse of a minor.
The Diocese of Peoria observes that the life of Fulton Sheen has been thoroughly and meticulously investigated. At every stage, it has been demonstrated definitively that he was an exemplary model of Christian conduct and a model of leadership in the Church. At no time has his life of virtue ever been called into question.
Archbishop Sheen was known for his personal dedication to a daily holy hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Drawing strength from his personal prayer life and deep devotion to Our Lord, Fulton Sheen consistently demonstrated tremendous courage in confronting the challenges in our society. He was well known for his boldness in preaching the Gospel on radio and on television in the face of our secular culture. This same spirit of courage and boldness guided him as a Bishop to preach the truth, to defend the faith, and to safeguard the Church.
Since a few members of the Bishop’s Conference have requested a delay, the Diocese of Peoria remains confident that Archbishop Sheen’s virtuous conduct will only be further demonstrated. Bishop Jenky has every confidence that any additional examination will only further prove Fulton Sheen’s worthiness of Beatification and Canonization. The Diocese of Peoria has no doubt that Fulton Sheen, who brought so many souls to Jesus Christ in his lifetime, will be recognized as a model of holiness and virtue.
This development is unfortunate especially because there continue to be many miracles reported through Sheen’s intercession. Several have even been reported since the announcement of the Beatification date two weeks ago. It is undoubtedly further proof for those who truly believe in this Cause that these miracles will be credited to the intercession of the Venerable Fulton Sheen in the future.
Bishop Jenky is deeply saddened by this decision. In particular, Bishop Jenky is even more concerned for the many faithful who are devoted to Sheen and who will be affected by this news. He is firmly convinced of the great holiness of the Venerable Servant of God and remains confident that Sheen will be beatified. Bishop Jenky has every intention of continuing the Cause, but no further date for Beatification has been discussed.
The Diocese of Peoria will offer no further comment at this time.