Dispute over the remains of Ven. Fulton Sheen

The cause for beatification of Ven. Archbp. Fulton Sheen has been put on hold.  Apparently, two dioceses have to settle their differences over the final disposition of the Venerable’s body.

The person or entity making the request that a cause be opened, the “Actor”, assume all responsibility for the expenses entailed in the cause, for the duration of the cause.  In this the Actor seems to be a Foundation in the Diocese of Peoria, where Ven. Fulton grew up.  However, in most cases when a cause is opened for a martyrdom, a person who lived a life of heroic virtue, or a miracle, the cause is located or handled in the place where the miracle took place or where the martyrdom occurred or, in the case also of non-martyrs, where the person died.  The Congregation for Causes of Saints can, for a good reason, transfer a cause from the place where the servant of God died, to another diocese.  For example, say that the profoundly holy servant of God Joe Bagofdonuts, born and raised and living and working for his whole life in the Diocese of Black Duck goes to visit his sister across the country in the Diocese of Mountweasel.  Mountweasel, initially would have the right to the cause, but for obvious reasons, the Congregation would have Black Duck handle it.   So, Peoria has great interest in Ven. Fulton, but he lived and worked and died in the Archd. of New York at Lennox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.  At some point the cause was transferred to Peoria.

And so the dispute begins, because… well New York has the body and Peoria wants it.

NB: There may be some more information out there about what is going on, but this is what I have seen so far.

From CNS:

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The canonization cause of Archbishop Fulton Sheen has been suspended indefinitely, according to a statement issued Sept. 3 by the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, where the archbishop was born.

The suspension was announced “with immense sadness,” the diocese said. “The process to verify a possible miracle attributed to Sheen had been going extremely well, and only awaited a vote of the cardinals and the approval of the Holy Father. There was every indication that a possible date for beatification in Peoria would have been scheduled for as early as the coming year.”


The diocesan statement said the Archdiocese of New York denied a request from Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, president of the Archbishop Sheen Foundation, to move the archbishop’s body to Peoria.

A Sept. 4 statement from Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the New York Archdiocese, said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York “did express a hesitance in exhuming the body” absent a directive from the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes and family approval. The statement added that Archbishop Sheen’s “closest surviving family members” asked that the archbishop’s wishes be respected and that he had “expressly stated his desire that his remains be buried in New York.”  [So, it is not only the Archdiocese that has reservations.]

Zwilling said Cardinal Dolan “does object to the dismemberment of the archbishop’s body,” but, were it to be exhumed, relics that might have been buried with Archbishop Sheen might be “reverently collected” and “shared generously” with the Peoria Diocese. [We can assume that this means the vestments and other episcopal gear the late Archbishop was clothed in.]

If the Peoria Diocese’s decision is final to suspend Archbishop Sheen’s cause and to assign it to the Vatican congregation’s historical archives, Zwilling said, “the Archdiocese of New York would welcome the opportunity to assume responsibility for the cause in an attempt to move it forward.” [Ah… the plot thickens.]

“After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen Cause would now have to be relegated to the congregation’s historic archive,” the Peoria diocesan statement said.


“Countless supporters especially from the local church in Central Illinois have given their time, treasure and talent for this good work with the clear understanding that the body of Venerable Sheen would return to the diocese,” the Peoria statement said. “Bishop Jenky was personally assured on several occasions by the Archdiocese of New York that the transfer of the body would take place at the appropriate time. New York’s change of mind took place as the work on behalf of the cause had reached a significant stage.”


Clearly this “change of mind” does not play well in Peoria.

Nor should it, if there was such an agreement.  And, frankly, it is hard to image that there was not.

During the course of the cause there had to have been an official examination of the body of the servant of God, a recognitio, of his remains, their condition, their actual existence, he is in the grave and not someone or something else.  At some point they would have had to hammer out the important question of where the body would be should the cause come to a positive conclusion and the beatification should take place.  If Peoria had the cause, they would have wanted, also, the Blessed’s remains for veneration in their local church.  It is inconceivable that this wasn’t worked out ahead of time.

Habeas corpus.

The Church has a lot of experience in these matters and the process for a cause has been worked out over many centuries.  Just about every imaginable contingency has, at some point or other, been dealt with in the past.  In the case of Ven. Fulton, we have echoes of past experiences.

For example, we all remember from our history how, in late antiquity and especially in the medieval period it was important for a monastery or city cathedral to have the body or great relic of saint.  This could mean serious pilgrim traffic and, therefore, prestige and economic advance.  Everyone would want to travel to the monastery of St. Swithin-by-the-Slough on the Feast of St. Continentia.  A market fair would be held.  Goods would be traded, etc.  For a bit of the flavor of this, try reading the interesting novel by Ken Follet, The Pillars of the Earth.  Monasteries and cities fought over bodies of saints. St. Martin of Tours died halfway between Poitier and Tours. They were about to have a little war over the saints remains, but someone managed to steal the body. When St. Thomas Aquinas died, the Cistercian monks hide his remains so that they couldn’t be swiped. But, as it turns out, a French monk managed to nick the saint’s bones and take them back to Toulouse, where Thomas is today.

Thus, bickering over bodies is nothing new in this fascinating Church of ours. It is unsavory to see, but we have seen this movie before. And it ain’t the Bells of St. Mary.

Eventually this will be settled, when someone decides to give for the sake of the cause of Ven. Fulton. Until then, however, it is entirely proper and for the best that the cause be suspended.


Fr. Landry has a piece at the National Catholic Register about this.  He adds more details.  It is worth a look.  HERE

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  1. Siculum says:

    Cardinal Spellman would be happy about these developments.

  2. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Fr.Roger Landry has a good commentary piece in the National Catholic Register about this. Apparently, the question needs to be asked, why did the Diocese of New York not take up the Cause originally? From what I read the Diocese of Peoria paid for all the Cause when the Diocese of New york refused to investigate.

  3. Frankly, this part is what I find most outrageous:

    Zwilling said Cardinal Dolan “does object to the dismemberment of the archbishop’s body”

    Dismemberment! The taking and veneration of first class relics is an ancient and venerable practice of the Church and this statement uses language that ridicules it.

  4. acardnal says:

    According to Raymond Arroyo’s reporting on last night’s EWTN “World Over” show, the Diocese of Peoria asked the Archdiocese of New York twice to initiate the Cause, but former Cardinal Archbishop Egan of NY denied the request so. . . Peoria initiated the Cause!

  5. JesusFreak84 says:

    If the family had objections, why is this coming out NOW and not years ago when the cause was first opened? Were they just not paying attention until now? Really? And given how much egg ++Dolan already has on his face at this point regarding the St. Patrick’s Gay Pride Parade (to the extent that isn’t blasphemous to type…) I’m surprised NOW is the time this comes to the front. Wait, no I’m not….oi….

  6. stjoe says:

    Hi Father Z,

    I have written 2 short prayer books to Fulton Sheen. You may wish to add your Amazon affiliate links to them:

    “Nine Days With Archbishop Fulton Sheen” and “A Month With Archbishop Fulton Sheen”

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. We don’t know what exactly was asked for, and of course (in these uneducated days) not everybody understands or uses technical Church terms correctly. This can cause people to be scandalized for no reason, which is why it’s important to define terms.

    2. Probably Peoria was initially given the cause because 1) NYC already was handling about five-ten different causes and maybe more, and 2) because previous archbishops were not as big of fans of Sheen. Now that things have actually progressed to the Venerable stage, and because Cardinal Dolan is a bigger fan of Sheen, the stakes have increased.

    3. Obviously the Venerable’s family and his own wishes are important in re: what happens with the body.

    4. There are plenty of different ways to get first class relics, depending on how intact and incorrupt the body is, or how thoroughly the embalming was done. Obviously if Ven. Sheen’s body turned out to be mostly bones, it wouldn’t be too distressing to send some bones to Peoria. But if Ven. Sheen’s body is mostly intact, it would be a real project to do it respectfully if you wanted to, say, extract his heart, and I think most people’s instincts would be against it.

    It didn’t happen yesterday and it’s not hundreds of years afterward, so non-invasive removal of first class relics (hair clippings, for instance) would be more usual.

  8. Eliane says:

    Such conundrums as this invite reading between the lines, and what I read is that New York does not want AB Sheen canonized. The archdiocese treated him disgracefully in his lifetime, and for modern times he could never be pointed to for having embraced the political correctness of the 21st Century, so favored by New York’s present chief shepherd.

    So make a big deal of respect for the “body” and the “family.” Yeah, that’ll work.

    [I don’t want to read too much into this. It could very well be that the family is involved. If so, their desires need to be taken into account, even they aren’t entirely decisive.]

  9. Patti Day says:

    I asked my parish priest if our altar contained relics. He told me the Church no longer permits first class relics to be used in newly-built churches (2007) and that the Vatican no longer makes first class relics available to the public. Is that accurate?

  10. anna 6 says:

    But if the archbishop and his family requested that he be buried in NY then it should be respected.

  11. Thorfinn says:

    Regarding the family’s wishes, according to what I’ve read:

    the “majority” of the family wants the remains moved to Peoria, and the “closest surviving relatives” want the remains to stay put.

    For me, it’s pretty simple: Peoria has the cause, they should get whatever relics are necessary. In the grand scheme of things, though distressing in the here and now for those involved, eventually it should get worked out and won’t be a big deal. But it’s one more head-scratcher that makes you wonder about the Archdiocese of NY.

  12. Athelstan says:


    [W]hy did the Diocese of New York not take up the Cause originally?

    I’ve always wondered about that myself.

    There might be a legitimate reason; Spellman’s shabby treatment of Sheen was far enough in the past as to be less likely as a motivation. But it was still a striking refusal given Sheen’s stature by that time.

  13. Athelstan says:

    P.S. I do thank Crimson for pointing out Fr. Landry’s column in the Register. Especially for pointing to what the eventual solution is likely to be:

    It would seem to be in Peoria’s coming to New York to examine the body and secure some first-class relics to take back to Peoria, where, eventually, a beatification ceremony could take place, but that the body would remain at St. Patrick’s.

    So Peoria would keep the cause, gain the right to inspect the remains of the Venerable, and obtain first class relics; it would also host the beatification ceremony. New York would keep the body, but would be forced to concede the taking of first class relics (despite Cdl. Dolan’s very un-Catholic, but all too American, queasiness with taking first relics), and have no part of the beatification ceremony.

    New York would obviously win a substantial concession in such an arrangement – even if some folks in the ADNY chancery might not be Sheen fans, it would be hard to resist the possibility of erecting a shrine what might well become America’s most popular saint, with all the traffic that might entail to St. Patrick’s (see Fr. Z’s post).

    I can’t help but feel that Peoria, having done the hard work when New York would not, is entitled to more; but notwithstanding the questionable behavior of the ADNY throughout this, the close attachment of Sheen to New York, and the simple reality that many more people will have the opportunity to visit his shrine in New York than they would in Peoria, make make the pill easier to swallow of leaving the body in New York. Which is why, I suspect, the Holy See will ultimately try to make such a compromise stick.

  14. frsbr says:

    Re: Patti Day comments and relics

    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states: “The practice of placing relics of Saints, even those not Martyrs, under the altar to be dedicated is fittingly retained. Care should be taken, however, to ensure the authenticity of such relics” (GIRM, no. 302). The Ceremonial of Bishops further indicates that the relics should be placed under the altar (rather than inserted into the mensa), and that they should be recognizable as relics.

    In days gone by, the relics of martyrs were required. They were usually placed within the mensa (top of altar) by means of a small receptacle that was carved into the altar. Now, the relics of any of the saints will suffice. Typically, they are placed under the altar, or even within the base of the altar, sometimes visible by means of a Roman-style fenestella. Here is an image from St. Theresa parish in Sugar Land, TX with the latter arrangement:


    It is particularly apt that the altar enshrine the relics of the patron saint of the parish, whether they be martyrs or not.

    Usually, the (arch)diocesan archive can supply relics for new altars. Otherwise, the local ordinary should be able to obtain them from Rome, through the usual channels.

    There are a number of new churches in my Archdiocese – including a new cathedral – and all of the altars incorporate relics of the saints. The link below shows the reliquary under the Co-Cathedral altar: http://pic40.picturetrail.com/VOL297/2096312/6860834/311737390.jpg

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Several points.
    One, the cause began in Peoria and I personally know the monsignor responsible for that beginning. Many patrons have supported financially this cause coming out of Peoria.

    Two, there are many more practicing Catholics in Illinois and the Midwest who would benefit from going to a shrine, rather than the Church in NYC, which frankly is falling into ruin and disgrace. A shrine is for believers, a shrine does not make believers usually.

    Three, the family is the Church not merely the relatives, who may or may not even be Catholic, as far as we know. What should count is the benefit for the Church at large and not private interests.

    Four, there are many saints, including Nicholas, whose bodies were fought over. Nothing new here.

    Five, as I see Cardinal Dolan as a liberal, he may not support the type of cult of a saint which happens with shrines and relics. Sorry, I do not trust his judgment on traditional things.

    As you can see, I am on the Peoria side of this fight. If there is contradiction, it seems to be in NYC.

  16. Franko says:

    Fulton Sheen was a great man of faith and watching two diocese bicker over his body because it will be a big tourist draw is disheartening. I know there is precedent for this kind of thing in the past, but that doesn’t necessarily make it acceptable in the end.

    If he did indeed request to be buried in New York (assuming that’s something that can be proven), then he should stay in New York in my opinion. My instinct here is to take the wishes of the family into account on this.

    I just hope it’s resolved quickly and quietly. It really is unseemly.

  17. dans0622 says:

    For informational purposes, here is a link to the recent document from the Cong. for Causes of Saints where we can see the typical procedure at this time of a process and in regard to the mortal remains of the Servant of God: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/csaints/documents/rc_con_csaints_doc_20070517_sanctorum-mater_en.html#APPENDIX

  18. Fr. W says:

    Placing relics under the altar – I was shocked to see a new church put the relics IN THE FLOOR, ‘under the altar.’ the priest stands on the relic-spot. Another church did it as well, claiming that this is the required method.

    Can this be correct? !!?

  19. dans0622 says:

    Fr. W: the 1977 Rite of dedication of a Church and Altar, in number 5, says: “The tradition in the Roman liturgy of placing relics of martyrs or other saints beneath the altar should be preserved, if possible. But the following should be noted: a) Such relics should be of a size sufficient for them to be recognized as parts of human bodies. Hence, excessively small relics … must not be placed beneath the altar. b) (make sure the relics are authentic–better to have no relics than fake ones) c) A reliquary must not be placed upon the altar or set into the table of the altar; it must be placed beneath the table of the altar…”
    So, the relics are to be beneath the altar, not where anybody stands and walks around.

  20. iamlucky13 says:

    I would have hoped the cause for a saint would be one of the likeliest of occasions in human interactions for anyone involved to be falling all over themselves to outdo the other in graciousness. I pray that no scandal be created by the interest in being Actor.

    @ dans0622 – that’s quite interesting. I recall being shown the relic in the altar during altar server training growing up. This was a country church built in the early 1900’s. It was a very small, unidentifiable fragment set into a thick marble tile, and the marble tile itself was set into the top of the altar.

    It is my understanding that altar stones such as these were common before Vatican II. Wikipedia claims (yep, there’s an article on altar stones on Wikipedia of all places, and it appears to be decently written and supported by a bibliography) it relates to the requirement to celebrate Mass on a consecrated altar, so having a consecrated altar stone could allow a priest to celebrate Mass in less than ideal locations. The main examples offered are for military chaplains and missionaries.

    The case I mention was in a rural area, and I know some of the early priests in the parish did a traveling rotation among several church’s, and I suspect some chapels in further outlying areas.

  21. This just in, from Peoria, which has issued a “clarification” on the situation. This is turning into a canonical tennis match to rival the U.S. Open.

    Next serve: New York.


  22. JesusFreak84 says:

    Have I mentioned that I hate lawyers? And bureaucracy? >.>

  23. rodin says:

    It is a disgrace to Bishop Sheen’s memory that the New York diocese seems to have made such a mess of this issue by failing to stick to the agreement. Let us hope and pray that Cardinal Dolan can get his head straightened.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    In Europe, having the remains of saints in floors is not uncommon, but there would be additional relics in the altar stone, a reminder of the Masses said in the catacombs in persecution.

    Many years ago, I rescued to altar stones from a closet in a liberal chapel, wherein these were kept after two churches were destroyed. As the closet was in a high school with satanists, I “borrowed” the two altar stones and gave one to a priest and one to a real Catholic school.

    The main chaplain was homosexual and did not want the stones. I would have “borrowed” a 18th century monstrance no longer in use, as no one believed in Adoration. However, I thought that would be over the top stealing. The priests in the area were all so liberal, I could not discuss the situation with them.

  25. Andkaras says:

    I suppose Solomon would say “Cut that baby in half!”

  26. kmtierney says:


    It’s actually Joey Bag O’Donuts. I have the proof. He’s a very holy man.


  27. Athelstan says:

    Re-reading the ADNY’s statement, it appears facially that it really comes down to the remains of Archbp. Sheen, and that there are four real objections: 1) Sheen desired to be buried in New York. 2) Some family members object to moving the remains. 3) The only order it has received from Rome was not to move the body, and 4) Cdl. Dolan “does object to the dismemberment of the Archbishop’s body” and does “express a hesitance in exhuming the body” unless certain conditions are met.

    Yet each of these objections are problematic in some way: 1) Sheen’s desire was to be buried in the Bronx, not St. Patrick’s; and in any event, wishes of the deceased are frequently not controlling in these cases, as Sheen himself knew as well as anyone. 2) The family is clearly split on moving the body, so who prevails? In any event, family objections are never decisive, though taken into account. 3) The 2005 instruction from the Holy See came long before Archbishop Sheen was declared “Venerable,” in 2012, or had a miracle under scrutiny for beatification, and really is no longer operative. 4) The three conditions Dolan imposes are already met by his own admission (the family members in question have given some kind of permission, it says), or can easily be met.

    Which leaves Dolan’s stated opposition to any “dismemberment.” Leaving aside how deeply un-Catholic (but all too American) such an attitude is, it’s not the case that first class relics are absolutely necessary at this stage, though they are strongly preferred. Would Dolan’s idea of “dismemberment” even extend to nails or hair? Those are first class relics, too. Cardinal Dolan presumably trims his own every month.

    In any event, even this objection fades away with the closing affirmation that Cardinal Dolan “would welcome the opportunity to assume responsibility for the cause” of Archbp. Sheen. And if ADNY did assume control of the cause, exhumation, examination and obtaining of relics would HAVE to take place – as would moving of Sheen’s remains to whatever shrine would be erected by ADNY, even if only somewhere else in St. Patrick’s. In short, it’s very hard to escape the conclusion that Cardinal Dolan does not really object to what would need to be done with Archbp. Sheen’s remains in completing the cause; he just objects to moving them out of the Archdiocese of New York. And since that is necessary for any cause to proceed in Peoria (or elsewhere), it’s hard not to suspect that, whatever Bishop Jenky’s motivations might be, Cardinal Dolan really wants Sheen’s sainthood to take place in New York.

  28. Gerard Plourde says:

    I know that this is not part of the criteria the Church uses but I’d remark that the difficulty that attends investigation into his canonization indicates to me that he is truly worthy of recognition. After all, the journey of the saints in this world is never easy. Why shouldn’t we expect that extend to the canonization process.

  29. Mojoron says:

    Even in sainthood, it’s still about the money.

  30. jhayes says:

    Several people have suggested that the Archdiocese of NY has not valued or honored Archbishop Sheen.

    It’s worth noting that this year the Archdiocese has opened a center named in his honor.

    Here is part of an article by Cardinal Dolan’s announcing the opening of the center:

    The New Evangelization works by using a variety of means to express the beauty and depth of Catholicism. Here in the Archdiocese of New York, we are about to embark on a New Evangelization initiative that, I believe, is unique, without parallel in any diocese in the nation, The Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Center for Art and Culture. Allow me to tell you a little about the center, our hopes and dreams for it, and all the good it can do for the Church.

    In line with the goal of The New Evangelization, the mission statement of the center is succinct, though all encompassing:

    The Sheen Center is a forum to highlight the true, the good, and the beautiful as they have been expressed throughout the ages. Aware of our creation in the image and likeness of God, redeemed by Jesus, the Sheen Center aspires to present the heights and depths of human expression in thought and culture, acknowledging that “the glory of God is man fully alive.” At the Sheen Center, we proclaim that “life is worth living,” especially when we seek to deepen, explore, challenge, and uplift ourselves, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, intellectually, artistically, and spiritually.

    So, why does the center bear the name Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen? Because no other American Catholic has come closer than he to having lived out the center’s mission statement. From his acclaimed and award winning radio and television programs, to his famed preaching at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Saint Agnes Church here in Manhattan, to his bestselling books, no one has better used modern means of communication to bring the Catholic faith to all, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and that is the New Evangelization. All of his addresses and writings draw upon what was best in culture, art, literature, music, drama, journalism, history—anything that enhanced the dignity and nobility of the human person. Just months before his passing, Pope Saint John Paul II met Archbishop Sheen at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral during his 1979 visit to New York, and greeted him with these words: “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus. You have been a loyal son of the Church.”


  31. jhayes says:

    John Allen asks Cardinal Allen about the cause:

    Speaking of New York, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, seems to fault the archdiocese for slowing down the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Is it true you’ve put on the brakes?

    No, that’s not true. I share Bishop Jenky’s expectation and hope to go forward as quickly as possible, and I’m very grateful for all the work Peoria has done. I also share his frustration at the demands of any sainthood cause, because these things are never easy. In New York we know that from other causes we have in the system, such as Pierre Toussaint, Cardinal Terence Cooke, and Dorothy Day.

    We’ve had some issues [with Peoria] over what to do with the remains of Archbishop Sheen and what relics we might be able to share, and I’m committed to doing whatever we can that’s consistent with Sheen’s own wishes, the wishes of his family, the instructions we get from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints [in the Vatican] and New York state law. The bottom line is that we want this cause to go forward as quickly as possible, and I thought I had shared that properly with Peoria and with the congregation.

    I guess my next step is to write a formal letter to Bishop Jenky and the congregation, saying we’d be honored to take over the cause if that’s what seems best. Sheen was a bishop here and has deep ties to New York and we’re proud of him, so we’d be happy to do it, but we also want to respect Peoria.


  32. jhayes says:

    John Allen interviews Cardinal Dolan:

    Speaking of New York, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, seems to fault the archdiocese for slowing down the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Is it true you’ve put on the brakes?

    No, that’s not true. I share Bishop Jenky’s expectation and hope to go forward as quickly as possible, and I’m very grateful for all the work Peoria has done. I also share his frustration at the demands of any sainthood cause, because these things are never easy. In New York we know that from other causes we have in the system, such as Pierre Toussaint, Cardinal Terence Cooke, and Dorothy Day.

    We’ve had some issues [with Peoria] over what to do with the remains of Archbishop Sheen and what relics we might be able to share, and I’m committed to doing whatever we can that’s consistent with Sheen’s own wishes, the wishes of his family, the instructions we get from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints [in the Vatican] and New York state law. The bottom line is that we want this cause to go forward as quickly as possible, and I thought I had shared that properly with Peoria and with the congregation.

    I guess my next step is to write a formal letter to Bishop Jenky and the congregation, saying we’d be honored to take over the cause if that’s what seems best. Sheen was a bishop here and has deep ties to New York and we’re proud of him, so we’d be happy to do it, but we also want to respect Peoria.

  33. jhayes says:

    Link for John Allen interview of Cardinal Dolan posted above.


  34. The first observation I’ll make is that St. Patrick’s Cathedral does not need any additional tourist traffic. People stream in and out of there all day long. They will continue to do that whether Venerable Archbishop Sheen’s remains remain there or not.

    The second observation is that the bright side of a fight is that the fighters see something (or someone) worth fighting about.

    The third observation is that the greatest tribute one could give the Archbishop would be to listen to his many well-preserved television and radio talks and take heed. They actually hold up fairly well allowing for changes in Church discipline over the last 40 or 50 years– but the substance is still valid. I was in a church on Wednesday morning and the pastor said that he would like to have started the Mass with Gregorian chant for St. Gregory’s feast day, but he didn’t know what chants the congregation knew. Does anyone suppose that he will begin to educate them? How many priests sit in the confessional all day on St. John Vianney’s day? I hope Archbishop Sheen does not join the many saints whose lives are honored with effusive lip service but whose example and teaching is completely ignored or set aside as being no longer relevant or practical.

  35. Thorfinn says:

    Unfortunately each subsequent communication from the Archdiocese of New York or Cardinal Dolan seems to be along the same lines: Ven. Sheen will become a saint in NY or not at all:

    1. Either by fabricated delays or outright denial (for example, writing that ADNY will “never” allow Peoria to even examine the body(!)) they will never agree to a request that allows Peoria to proceed with the cause of Ven. Fulton Sheen

    2. We will take up the cause once we have forced Peoria to abandon it

    Describe that strategy however you like: it’s not Christian.

    Bishop Jenky is right to refuse to accede to that kind of blackmail and to bring it into the light of day.

  36. Matt Robare says:

    Clearly some guys from Peoria need to effect a miraculous translation of Venerable Fulton Sheen’s body from New York, like the Venetians were famous for doing.

  37. Lori Pieper says:

    Thorfinn, my guess as to why Cardinal Dolan is saying he will gladly take up the cause is to prod Bishop Jenky to take it up again (in other words, “use it or lose it”).

    Keep in mind this is the second time Jenky has pulled the plug on the cause, because he wasn’t getting his way about having Sheen’s body in Peoria. He’s even said the only reason he took up the expense of the cause is his expectation that his diocese would get Sheen’s body. Really? He didn’t do it just because he wanted to see Sheen become a saint? What kind of attitude is that? Even some people in Peoria are saying Jenky is wrong.

    And he’s doing it again, when things are so close to the finish line, when I’m sure the other matters in regard to the relics could have been worked out with NY. Yet his only stated concern in the original press release was getting the body to Peoria. I think he was forced to give the explanation about the relics later, when people were puzzled as to why not moving the boy would supposedly hold up beatification, when the truth is that canonically it wouldn’t.

    Let’s get Sheen beatified now, and worry about who gets the body later. That seems like the right thing to do.

  38. anna 6 says:

    It seems that there are many presumptions being make in regard to cardinal Dolan’s intentions.
    The archbishop happens to be a great admirer of Fulton Sheen and speaks of him frequently. I am grateful to J Hayes for setting the record straight.
    Much in the way Benedict XVI was made into a cartoon character by those who didn’t understand or appreciate him, I fear the same is happening to Dolan. He is not as “liberal” as he is being made out to be. He’s not a perfect leader…but NY is a tough town.

  39. robtbrown says:

    I find Cardinal Dolan’s comments a bit disingenuous. No doubt NY would be glad to take over the cause now because almost all the work on the cause has been done.

  40. Lori Pieper says:

    Anna 6,
    Thank you for standing up for my Archbishop. He’s taken quite a beating lately — undeservedly, in my opinion.

  41. pcamarata says:

    Just as an aside. . . in Aquinas’s case, the Cistercians at Fossanova actually kept his head, which remains interred at Santa Maria Assunta in Priverno. Interesting description about the intrigue surrounding his relics by Notre Dame Professor Ralph McInerny on page 5 of issue 73 of Christian History magazine. https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/uploaded/50cf86aeb33df9.86256106.pdf

  42. Magash says:

    Am I the only one to whom this brings to mind Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael mystery story “A Morbid Taste for Bones”? In the tale, the Monks of Cadfael’s order get an document from Church authorities to compel a town in Wales to allow them to take the bones of Saint Winifred, whom is buried in the church there to the abbey in Shrewsbury . There is a murder (of course, it is a murder mystery) and a switch is made so that the bones of the murderer are taken to Shrewsbury and the saint left in Wales. Two years later it seems that the town in Wales is still the site of pilgrimages and miraculous cures and the reliquary in Shrewsbury ignored by pilgrims. When asked by a fellow monk if the fact that there are no cures happening at Shrewsbury makes Cadfael doubt the power of the saint to intercede he remarks indeed not, he believes the power of the saint is so great that she can still request miracles in the area of her former burial.
    Shrewsbury Abbey is a real place and some of Peter’s characters are based on historical brothers who lived there. Saint Winifred is actually buried at Shrewsbury Abbey and the abbey’s prior in the story is base upon the actual prior who brought her body there.

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