Remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen to be moved to Peoria

Remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen to be moved to Peoria


by Catholic Herald staff reporter
posted Friday, 18 Nov 2016

Archbishop Sheen’s Cause may now restart after being suspended for two years

The remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen are to be moved from St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to the Illinois city of Peoria after a two-year dispute between the two dioceses.

A New York judge ruled in favour of a lawsuit launched by the Diocese of Peoria to bring the remains back to where Archbishop Sheen first served as an altar boy and then was ordained a priest.

The dispute led to the suspension of Archbishop Sheen’s Cause two years ago.

Two years earlier the Vatican had declared the archbishop – an early televangelist who presented the television programme “Life Is Worth Living” in the 1950s – to have lived a life of “heroic virtue”, meaning he is described as Venerable.

A possible miracle is being investigated that would pave the way for his beatification.

Patricia Gibson, lawyer for the Peoria diocese, said she hoped the remains would be relocated before Christmas and that a marble crypt could be built at St Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria within weeks.

The petition to the judge was made by Archbishop Sheen’s cousin, 88-year-old Joan Sheen Cunningham.

She had originally said the Diocese of Peoria’s relocation campaign was a “power grab” but diocesan officials had persuaded her that the Cause would most likely move ahead if she made a legal petition in favour.

A spokesman for the New York archdiocese said the cathedral’s trustees would “need to review the decision with their lawyers and determine what next steps they wish to take”.

Gibson, however, said the archdiocese would have to win a stay of the judge’s order to block the decision. “That would have to come from the same judge, and that’s not likely,” she said.

Vatican theologians are investigating a possible miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen. The case, which medical advisers have said has no natural cause, concerns the survival of a baby whose heart stopped for an hour.

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2 comments on “Remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen to be moved to Peoria

    from The Point, January 1953
    [The link is to a search for “Sheen” giving the multiple reflections Fr. Feeney and the Slaves had regarding Bishop Sheen.]

    The heresy of Americanism is fostered and advanced mainly by a few highly conspicuous and successful American priests, who have made their reputations on their ability to display their own sparkling personalities and good citizenship, while obscuring the Catholic Faith. One such priest is Fulton J. Sheen, who presents us with the spectacle and the scandal of a Catholic bishop, sworn to preach and defend the Faith even to the shedding of his blood, offering to the millions of Americans who see him on television, a “non-sectarian” program. Bishop Sheen never indicates that he is worried about, or even interested in, the eternal salvation of his audience; nor does he ever tell them anything that they would need to know in order to achieve that salvation.

    from The Point, August 1952
    [The link is to a search for “Sheen” giving the multiple reflections Fr. Feeney and the Slaves had regarding Bishop Sheen.]

    When Our Lord gave His last instructions to His Apostles, He commissioned them to go forth into every nation, preaching the Gospel and baptizing those who believed. He did not ask of them that they be successful, as the world measures success. But if He had, the man who would be best fulfilling Our Lord’s commission would be Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.

    Bishop Sheen has done what no other priest has been able to do, though some notable ones have tried: he has made himself a hit with Americans. And what is more, he has done this, not on the Church’s terms, as a preacher of the Catholic Faith; he has done it on America’s terms, as an entertainer on television, in free competition with other television entertainers.

    While it is true that the Bishop’s amazing popularity is largely due to the applause of Catholics, still, the ease with which he has become familiar as Uncle Fultie and the Face on the Barroom Screen shows that he has made a hit with Protestants and Jews as well. Indeed, so general has the Bishop’s popularity been, and so overwhelming, that he can well serve as a model for other priests who might want to become successful. As a service for such readers, as well as for those who are merely curious to know what Bishop Sheen has done and how he has done it, The Point has taken advantage of the lull provided by his summer vacation to make a careful analysis of his technique; and herewith it makes its report.

    The first thing that strikes you about Bishop Sheen’s message is that he never allows himself to be tied down by any narrow sectarianism. He is never too specifically Catholic. He is not so much a proponent of the one, true Faith as a proponent of Religion. Here is the way he has summarized the world’s spiritual ills, as they have grown worse through the centuries: “In the sixteenth century,” he says, “we denied belief in the Church; in the seventeenth, the inspiration of Sacred Scripture; in the eighteenth, the Divinity of Christ; in the nineteenth, the existence of God; and in the twentieth, the necessity of Religion.”

    Being not merely an apt student of history, but a very perceptive philosopher as well, Bishop Sheen has been quick to sense that in trying to restore these values priority must be given to those most recently lost. The modern world must be convinced first of the necessity of Religion, and after that of the existence of God, etc. The farthest the Bishop generally gets in this journey toward Faith and the Middle Ages, is the nineteenth century. Once he has succeeded in exposing the position of the atheist as being theoretically absurd and practically impossible, Bishop Sheen is inclined to let up. As long as a man gives evidence of being somehow for God, the Bishop will not press him to tell how he feels about Christ.

    Protestants and Jews enjoy listening to Bishop Sheen because they can always relax when doing so. They know they will never hear anything from him to upset them — no insinuations that his religion is any better than theirs, no remarks calculated to make them feel that they ought to become Catholics. Rather, he gives them a new appreciation of their own faith and fires them with a determination to be better Protestants and better Jews than ever. He even tells them how to do this. For instance, in a pamphlet he wrote, entitled “What Can I Do?”, Bishop Sheen tells everyone how to practice better his own faith and thus unite all Americans in “a common love of God.” He tells Protestants to practice fidelity to the marriage bond and give their children instruction in their Protestant religion. He urges Jews to do their bit by keeping the Ten Commandments. And he asks Catholics to show that they do not belong to this world by giving good example.

    The effect of such appeals is to make Protestants and Jews feel delighted to find that a Catholic bishop approves of their Protestantism and Judaism and wants to strengthen them in it, while at the same time it lets Catholics know, by a certain added intimacy that only they will notice, that they are really his special favorites.

    Despite the publicity he has received as a convert-maker, Bishop Sheen would never suggest on radio or television that his non-Catholic listeners ought to come into the Church. The Bishop has had long experience speaking on the air, and he knows that such suggestions are not allowed. That is why he prefers to make his appeal more for a return to generic religion than for a return to the Catholic Faith. On those occasions when he is forced to become organizationally specific and refer to the Church, he is very careful to present it in such a way that no one could possibly consider his remarks offensive to other religions. The mission of the Church, as presented by Bishop Sheen, is not so much to save souls — he seldom mentions eternal salvation at all — as to eliminate the need for a psychoanalyst and to provide a consistent philosophy of life. He is not so much concerned with those aspects of truth that belong to the Faith alone as with those that have a larger heritage. It is the morals, the ethics, and the logic of the Faith that he prefers to emphasize — those things that came to Christianity from the pagan Greeks rather than those things that came to it from Christ.

    In an article in Cosmopolitan magazine, Bob Considine tells how he asked Bishop Sheen if he ever eliminated certain Catholic dogmas that might scare off Protestant and Jewish viewers of his television program. The Bishop’s answer illustrates perfectly the attitude he takes in presenting the Faith: “There is nothing in my television sermons,” he replied, “that one cannot find in Aristotle.” This pre-Christian outlook on Christianity accounts for the fact that, although Bishop Sheen holds the title of U. S. director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, there is only one thing that ever gets propagated to the U. S. Protestants and Jews who watch the Bishop on television, and that is his own personality.

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