Habeas corpus: The Curious Cause of Bp. Fulton Sheen

From CNA:

Peoria diocese restarts Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s beatification cause

Peoria, Ill., Jan 27, 2011 / 01:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Peoria has resumed its promotion of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s cause for beatification despite its dispute with the Archdiocese of New York over the final resting place of the great evangelist’s remains.

In November 2010 the diocese said it was no longer in a position to continue its nine years of work on Archbishop Sheen’s beatification and canonization. The Archdiocese of New York’s failure to transfer Sheen’s body to a cathedral tomb in his hometown of Peoria had upset the diocese and stalled plans to create a national shrine for him there.

Now Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria has announced that the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation has resumed its efforts to advance Sheen’s cause.

“After further consultation, and having heard the desire of the faithful to see the cause advance, Bishop Jenky, as president of the Sheen Foundation, is happy to work with the postulator in Rome and is hopeful that the cause will advance quickly,” the foundation said in a Jan. 27 statement.

The foundation added that the Archdiocese of New York’s failure to fulfill a verbal promise to transfer Sheen’s remains caused “great upset and even scandal among those who had so long supported the cause.” The people and clergy of the Diocese of Peoria were “particularly distressed,” it said.

Patricia Gibson, chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria and an officer of the Sheen Foundation, explained that Bishop Jenky felt compelled at the time to pause the beatification effort “in light of the months of unresolved questions regarding the transfer of the remains.”

“Even though this issue remains unsettled, Bishop Jenky received encouragement from cardinals, bishops and the faithful from around the world, and especially from within his own diocese,” she said. Bishop Jenky has asked the Vatican congregation for saints to help resolve the question of the tomb, while also definitively deciding to continue the foundation’s work to advance Archbishop Sheen’s cause.

[...]

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32 Responses to Habeas corpus: The Curious Cause of Bp. Fulton Sheen

  1. Sam Urfer says:

    Well, couldn’t they split the body up between the two diocese? Certainly there is precedent.

  2. David Homoney says:

    May the Holy Spirit guide the process for this worthy Servant of God.

  3. PghCath says:

    If the Archdiocese of NY keeps Bishop Sheen’s remains, I hope they move them to a more public location. As I recall, the crypt is only open to tours and on certain days throughout the year. Better that everyone who walks into St. Patrick’s could pray before his tomb.

  4. TNCath says:

    Why was the location of the body good enough reason for the Diocese of Peoria to suspend the cause for beatification? Okay, so they are fighting over the location of the body? So what?

    When I first heard about the suspension of the cause and why, I thought the whole thing quite juvenille. I still do. This sounds like a needless turf war. Last I heard, we were all part of the same Church. Despite his small stature, Archbishop Sheen’s presence was and continues to be much bigger than where he is buried. How about tending to the beatification first, then worry about where the poor man’s remains will ultimately lie.

  5. Centristian says:

    St. Fulton Sheen?

    I like the man, his writings, and his videos, but…I dunno about that.

    What’s next? St. Francis Spellman?

  6. dcs says:

    The foundation added that the Archdiocese of New York’s failure to fulfill a verbal promise to transfer Sheen’s remains caused “great upset and even scandal among those who had so long supported the cause.”

    It is much more scandalous that the cause was suspended because of this. It is also much more scandalous that the foundation would continue to make it a source of scandal.

    Doesn’t it make sense that Abp. Sheen’s relics should be where he was a bishop? (I haven’t heard of a similar movement to translate St. John Neumann’s relics!!) If not in his own Diocese of Rochester, then the city of New York itself, where he was first an auxiliary. I agree that his tomb should be more accessible to the public — I don’t believe the confessio of St. Patrick’s Cathedral is open to all and sundry.

  7. Frank H says:

    TNCath – I understand there is considerable expense involved in pursuing a cause like this. If Peoria understood there to have been a commitment by New York to transfer the remains, no wonder they are upset. Yes, the Church is universal, but it’s the faithful of Peoria who, evidently, are bearing the financial burden of this effort.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    For centuries, towns and cities have fought over the relics of saints for two reasons: piety and money. Where there are shrines, there is a local pilgrimage economy. I do not say this as a cynic, but looking at the practical, as well as the devotional aspect of the relics of Fulton J. Sheen, I would state that the good people of Peoria have more of a claim. The area has seen a resurgence of the TLM and traditional orders, that is, nuns wearing habits and praying, and good monks, some of whom are priests who say the TLM-I am referring to the Community of St. John, for one.

    The Diocese of Peoria would be a perfect place for a shrine and the resting place of a great and holy man. I have known one of the priest’s involved in this cause. And, of course, as a Midwesterner myself, I think that Eastern people have not taken care of the shrines they have had, according to friends who have visited such as the Shrine of the North American Martyrs and others, which looked like money would help. Are all the shrines in the East so overflowing with visitors that one can’t be in the rural area of Illinois?

  9. Supertradmum says:

    ignore the apostrophe, sorry

  10. joanofarcfan says:

    I met and have spoken to a close relative of Bishop Sheen, and he told me the Bishop “hated Peoria.” He didn’t say why. Hearsay, of course, but there it is.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    joanofarcfan,

    I do not think that it matters whether the Servant of God, now in Heaven, said anything like what you have reported. I am sure from his point of view, Peoria and New York look the same….

  12. Jordanes says:

    It’s only understandable that the Diocese of Peoria, in pursuing their first-ever sainthood cause, would desire to enshrine Archbishop Sheen’s remains if he is beatified and canonised. I suppose it’s been especially galling to the Archdiocese of New York would decline to take up the Sheen cause, agree to have the Diocese of Peoria take it over, and then stonewall on the translation of his remains. Still, it doesn’t seem to me like something to drop a sainthood cause over.

    I don’t know whether Sheen hated Peoria or not, but from my reading his time in the city of Peoria was only a part of his time in the Diocese of Peoria (he was born in the diocese, not the city, and he and his family moved to the city when he was a youth), and it seems kind of early to be talking about where a shrine might be built even if the Diocese of Peoria obtains his remains. Anyway a saint’s personal feelings about a city can hardly enter into a decision about translation of his remains.

  13. Random Friar says:

    This is where we need Rome to step in and tell the two to start acting like big boys.

  14. Jordanes says:

    “galling to the Archdiocese of New York” should be “galling that the Archdiocese of New York.”

  15. Supertradmum says:

    The Great St. Nicholas of Myrna (Smyrna) had his relics taken by night, basically by shrine thieves, to Bari. That his relics were “translated” means only that some sailors stole into the Orthodox Monastery during a battle and seized the relics for their town. St Louis IX supposedly took stolen relics of the Crown of Thorns. The Crusaders brought back hundreds of relics of saints to Europe after the Crusades, which was probably a good thing, under the circumstances. In the following book, there are even 20th century thefts of relics delineated. The wholesale movement of relics makes for great reading. The Corpse: A History By Christine Quigley. Let us hope Peoria and New York can come to some understanding. I vote for Peoria.

  16. RichardT says:

    People are asking why the Diocese of Peoria have suspended the cause for beatification.

    I’m not an expert, but it might be because they have to.

    The Apostolic Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister (1983) says that a Bishop can only start a cause if he has relevant jurisdiction (para (1)). The related norms say that is usually “the one in whose territory the Servant of God died, unless particular circumstances, recognized as such by the Sacred Congregation, suggest otherwise”.

    So there’s possibly a legal argument about jurisdiction as well as a tussle over his remains.

    Or perhaps it is more than that – is having the remains a recognised alternative source of jurisdiction?

  17. RichardT says:

    But I think supertradmum has the right idea – time for a piratical raid by Peoria! At least relic snatching would show that Saints and their relics are taken seriously again.

  18. pberginjr says:

    Sam:
    St Louis relics were divided by his son Philip III, who took the “hard” relics (i.e. bones) to Saint-Denis and his brother Charles d’Anjou, who took the “soft” relics (i.e. flesh and entrails) back to Sicily. Shortly after this, Pope Boniface VIII promulgated the bull “Detestandae feritatis” which prohibited the partition of a cadaver.

    I hope this helps.

    When a cadaver becomes “remains,” I’m not sure, but perhaps this is a part of the problem. The body probably can’t be divided before the person is beatified or canonized, as this would be disturbing the corpse. In the meantime, certainly Peoria wants the body since they are paying for the Cause. A diocese as rural and small as it is, probably doesn’t have the money to fund such a case (considering Sheen’s body of work). Certainly if the body is in Peoria, the diocese could raise more funds for the Cause.
    If New York has the body, they should pay for he cause. [That is not how these things work.]

    In the interest of disclosure I am acquainted with Archbishop Dolan, but otherwise have no ties to either diocese.

    Sorry if any of the terms I’ve used are disrespectful or offensive, I don’t know the proper vocabulary when discussing such things.

  19. AnAmericanMother says:

    Supertradmum,

    You beat me to St. Nicholas! And how about the Venetians making off with St. Mark from Alexandria?

  20. Supertradmum says:

    AnAmericanMother,

    Loved the picture. I am sure St. James did not look quite as good as in the painting. Ah, to live in such exciting times….

  21. Supertradmum says:

    And, one sign of the true Church is our sense of humor. I think we can all think of a few “cults” or “faiths” which cannot sustain the fun we have here….at our own expense.

  22. RichardT says:

    Great picture. “Quick, hide behind this camel, then no-one will see us!”

  23. Supertradmum says:

    Richard T.,

    For Peoria, “Get into the cornstalks, before the “bridge and tunnel” crowd get here…”

  24. Supertradmum says:

    oops single inverted commas–I repent…

  25. RichardT says:

    Excellent. Do you think the Peoria KSC will take on the job?

  26. Jordanes says:

    Richard T said: People are asking why the Diocese of Peoria have suspended the cause for beatification. I’m not an expert, but it might be because they have to. The Apostolic Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister (1983) says that a Bishop can only start a cause if he has relevant jurisdiction (para (1)). The related norms say that is usually “the one in whose territory the Servant of God died, unless particular circumstances, recognized as such by the Sacred Congregation, suggest otherwise”. So there’s possibly a legal argument about jurisdiction as well as a tussle over his remains. Or perhaps it is more than that – is having the remains a recognised alternative source of jurisdiction?

    No, that has nothing to do with the temporary suspension of Sheen’s cause. The Diocese of Peoria has been promoting this cause for several years, but to do that the Vatican has to grant permission and recognise that the Bishop of Peoria has jurisdiction. That exception clause, “unless particular circumstances, recognized as such by the Sacred Congregation, suggest otherwise,” is the key. When the Archdiocese of New York was approached by those wishing to open a sainthood cause for Sheen, they declined because they already had so many pending causes. So the supporters of opening this cause turned to the Diocese of Peoria, where Sheen was born and raised and was ordained a priest. Bishop Daniel Jenky then requested the Vatican to grant permission for him to open a cause for Sheen, and the Vatican granted permission under the very terms of that exception clause, “unless particular circumstances, recognized as such by the Sacred Congregation, suggest otherwise.”

    The diocesan phase of the cause is already complete, the postrema sessio properly conducted, and all documentation has been sent to Rome, but the Bishop of Peoria retains his jurisdiction in this cause. Jurisdictional questions had nothing to do with his decision to suspend the cause — if they did, he would not have been able to resume the cause this week without resolution of any such questions.

  27. RichardT says:

    Jordanes, thank you for that. It would have been interesting if possessing his body gave jurisdiction, but I should have noticed from the timing that it was not so.

  28. RichardT says:

    I still think a relic-collecting raid is a good idea though.

  29. Forgetting about Peoria for a while, wouldn’t Rochester be the appropriate place? As a former Ordinary, I mean.

  30. Rochester’s current Ordinary apparently is not interested in any of the typical means of stirring up revival among the faithful, even though he’s been known to express devotion to Sheen. He’s too busy driving his diocese into the ground and trying to make sure there are no new priests in his territory… or at least he’s busy continuing to do things that don’t work, and thus doesn’t have any money except from selling perfectly good churches. He needs the prayers of Neumann and Sheen, and of all of us.

  31. Alice says:

    I suspect that now that he’s in heaven, Abp. Sheen has a higher opinion of Peoria. After all, he’s got a lot of friends in this diocese. I have to wonder if part of the reason that Bishop Jenky decided to go on with the cause is because of the miraculous recovery of the baby who went 61 minutes with no heartbeat, while Catholics around the blogosphere prayed to Abp. Sheen.

    Supertradmom, I had to laugh when I read about your “bridges and tunnels” comment. Whenever I go to Peoria, I wait until the bridge comes into view and then breath the “only 15 minutes until we’re there” sigh. Can I volunteer my two very cute boys as a decoy in our little relics raid? ;)

  32. FredM says:

    Good thing there is plenty of security at St. Patrick’s to guard against the folks from Peoria.
    As to Rochester, if I recall right, he hated it too.

    Fred