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Dispute between dioceses stalls cause for beatification of Fulton Sheen

September 04, 2014

A dispute between the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, has blocked progress toward the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria made a surprise announcement on September 3 that the Vatican has decided to suspend the cause for Archbishop Sheen's beatification, which had been expected to take place next year. The bishop said that he was making this announcement "with immense sadness," after failing to reach an agreement with the New York archdiocese about the transfer of Archbishop Sheen's remains.

The Peoria diocese, where the renowned preacher was raised and ordained to the priesthood, had taken the lead in promoting the cause for his beatification. In April, a Vatican-appointed panel approved the validity of a miracle attributed to Archbishop Sheen's intercession, and Church officials predicted that the beatification ceremony would take place in Peoria in 2015.

However, Bishop Jenky revealed that the New York archdiocese has balked at a request to transfer the late archbishop's remains to Peoria, for an inspection and the preparation of first-class relics. Bishop Jenky said that he had been "personally assured on several occasions" that the New York archdiocese would cooperate in the transfer, but New York officials later withdrew their support and Vatican officials were unable to negotiate an agreement. Therefore, Bishop Jenky reported, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints "decided that the Sheen cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation's historic archive."

Bishop Jenky's public announcement puts heavy pressure on the New York archdiocese to cooperate with Peoria in moving forward with the Sheen cause. But Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the New York archdiocese, announced on September 4 that the archdiocese has not received any order from the Vatican for removal of Archbishop Sheen's remains.

Archbishop Sheen is buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. The archdiocese has insisted that this was the late archbishop's wish, and that the Sheen family does not wish for the archbishop's remains to be moved.

Bonnie Engstrom, whose stillborn baby revived after she prayed for Archbishop Sheen's intercession-- thereby providing the miracle that is likely to fulfill the last formal requirement for his beatification-- told the Catholic Herald that her family was "incredibly saddened and confused" by the news that the cause had stalled, but she would continue to pray for an end to the impasse.


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Defender - Sep. 05, 2014 1:55 AM ET USA

    NYC and Cardinal Dolan, again?

  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Sep. 04, 2014 7:02 PM ET USA

    As always, there's another side to the story:

  • Posted by: - Sep. 04, 2014 4:30 PM ET USA

    Dolan bends over backwards to accommodate the LGBT lobby and even looks forward to welcoming their defilement of the 2015 St. Patrick's Day Parade, but he can't find a way to get along with a fellow bishop nor get along with Catholic parishoners of another diocese. No attaboys for u, Timmy.