Now that the wrangling over the body of Fulton Sheen has been resolved by a secular court, and the body of the Venerable has been transferred from this sometimes tomb in New York City to it’s resting place in Peoria, a miracle worked by God through Sheen’s intercession has been recognized by Rome. This opens the way to the Beatification of Fulton Sheen.
The decree concerning his life of heroic virtues had been promulgated by Benedict XVI 2012, thus giving Sheen the title “Venerable”. The cause could not move forward because the Archdiocese of New York refused to release Sheen’s body to Peoria for the obligatory “recognition” of the body, an examination and description, and the taking of relics. Numerous court challenges resulted in a victory for Sheen’s family and the cause.
The Venerable’s body was transferred to Peoria and cause was able to move forward.
Archbp. Sheen had died in NYC. Officially, a person’s “cause” for canonization is handled in the diocese where the person died. However, for a good reason the “actor” in the cause, who wants the cause to be opened, can petition the Holy See to move the cause to another place. That’s what had happened in the cause of Fulton Sheen. His cause had been transferred to Peoria, where his family roots remain. Sheen was ordained for the Diocese of Peoria.
Fulton Sheen was a supremely talented teacher and speaker. He could be a patron for priest’s in these their roles. However, he also once had a horrible tangle with the Archbp. of New York, Card. Spellmam which went all the way to Ven. Pius XII (another whose cause is languishing). Sheen prevailed, but it was a Pyrrhic victory, in that Spellman relentlessly persecuted Sheen thereafter. Truly Pyrrhic, however, for Spellman, as it turns out.
Sheen could be the patron of faithful priests persecuted by their devious bishops.
I’ve been reading and listening to Sheen for years. Personally, my points of contact with him at two. When in London, and when I stayed at St Patrick’s in Soho, I heard confessions in the regular confessional Sheen used. Also, under very different circumstances, we both went to the St. Paul Seminary. If I remember rightly, there was a incident with a bowling ball. But I digress.
There is no date yet, for the beatification of Fulton J. Sheen. With the approval of a miracle through his intercession, his beatification is pretty much a done deal. It will probably be in Peoria.
This is a turbulent time for the Church in these USA. It seems to me that Sheen’s beatification will now come at a critical time, a moment when many will be moved to consider anew or for the first time his sound teachings, perhaps in a way that will affect the lives of many Catholics. Had Sheen’s cause occurred “on schedule”, it would have drawn a lot of attention, but not the sort of attention and with the lens that we now have. His example will say something different under these circumstances than it would have some years ago.