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Venerable Fulton Sheen's cause for beatification is currently at a standstill. Between American prelates playing games and the Vatican failing to give updates, the late bishop's path to sainthood is up in the air. Church Militant's William Mahoney looks at the situation and recent comments from a bishop in Sheen's home diocese.
Louis Tylka, coadjutor bishop of the Peoria diocese in Illinois, is uncertain why there's a pause in Sheen's beatification. In the year he's been in Peoria, Bp. Tylka has heard nothing from the Vatican.
Tylka, originally a priest from Chicago, was made a coadjutor bishop last summer and is on track to succeed Peoria's current ordinary in 2022. He recently explained to the Journal Star, Peoria's major newspaper, nobody in the Vatican has provided any reasons why Sheen's cause should not go forward.
Bishop Louis Tylka: "Since nobody has given that, I have to believe that there's got to be some reason why there was a pause, but it's only a pause."
But if the Vatican fails to break its silence soon on the matter, Tylka indicated a visit to the Eternal City might be in order. The Vatican's recent halt comes in the wake of American prelates working against Sheen's process. Bishop Salvatore Matano of Rochester, New York, where Sheen was bishop from 1966 to 1969, obstructed the venerable's beatification — not once, but twice.
The beatification was slated for the 100th anniversary of Sheen's ordination to the priesthood on Sept. 20, 2019, until Matano decided in July that year to send paperwork to the Holy See, suggesting Sheen mishandled two clerics guilty of child sex abuse. Both Peoria and Rome investigated Matano's paperwork, and both found Sheen did nothing wrong.
After the announcement of a new beatification date for Dec. 21, 2019, Matano intervened again. Peoria's director of canonical affairs, Msgr. James Kruse, then surmised, "Constantly the diocese of Rochester calls for greater caution, but it is hard not to think that they simply act to sabotage the cause."
Suspicion of sabotage in the Empire State is heightened, considering how New York's Cdl. Dolan tried to keep Sheen's remains. Dolan, who does everything in his power to avoid paying for clergy sex abuse, spent hundreds of thousands in legal fees to keep Sheen's remains in New York. Dolan ultimately lost his fifth and final appeal.
In June, 2019, Sheen's remains were moved from the crypt of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria. While Catholics wait for the Vatican to provide an update, back in Sheen's home diocese, Bp. Tylka assures the faithful he will continue to push for the venerable's canonization.
The path to beatification was cleared on July 6, 2019, when the pope approved Sheen's first miracle, the unexplained recovery of a stillborn boy in 2010.