Judge Arlene Bluth: ‘That possibility — to become a saint — is sufficient grounds to remove Archbishop Sheen’s remains’

NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) – A New York court is ruling that Abp. Fulton J. Sheen’s remains can leave New York for Peoria, Illinois.

In a ruling handed down Friday, Judge Arlene Bluth of the Superior Court of New York ruled that Joan Sheen Cunningham, niece and closest living relative to Sheen, with legal rights over his body, met the legal threshold to have her uncle’s body disinterred.

“The Court must consider the fact that Archbishop Sheen dedicated his life to the Catholic Church and that becoming saint would be the highest honor he could achieve,” Bluth wrote. “That possibility — to become a saint — is sufficient grounds to remove Archbishop Sheen’s remains.”

“This is truly good news because it answered the concerns of the Appellate Court,” the Peoria diocese said in a press release. “Therefore, it is everyone’s hope that Cardinal Dolan as well as the New York Archdiocese will cease their legal resistance and respect the ruling of the Superior Court.”

The diocese of Peoria and New York have been deadlocked over Sheen’s body for four years, after Cdl. Dolan — failing to honor the promises of his predecessor Cdl. Edward Egan — refused in 2014 to hand over Sheen’s remains to Peoria so his cause for sainthood could advance.

Cunningham, now 90, was sent to live with Sheen at age 10, who raised her, educated her and cared for her as a father.

“The record before this court suggests that there was no relative closer by blood or emotion to Archbishop Sheen,” Bluth wrote.

Bluth had initially awarded Cunningham the right to move Sheen’s body in a ruling issued in November 2016, but the archdiocese appealed, successfully blocking transfer of Sheen’s body.

In a 3–2 ruling issued on February 6 of this year, the appeals court overturned the lower court ruling, holding that the testimony of Msgr. Hilary Franco — who claimed that Sheen wanted to be buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where he currently rests — was compelling enough to deserve closer examination. The case was sent back to Bluth’s court for an evidentiary hearing.

In Bluth’s Friday decision, she noted, “[D]espite being given ample opportunity, Monsignor Franco never contradicted petitioner’s claim that Archbishop Sheen would have wanted his remains to leave New York if it would allow the Cause to continue,” adding that “he did not articulate a reason why Archbishop Sheen’s earthly remains should not be removed under the current circumstances.”

“Monsignor Franco never testified that Archbishop Sheen would have opposed moving his remains in order to advance the Cause,” she continued. “He never testified that his friend and mentor, Archbishop Sheen, loved New York so much that he would give up this chance at sainthood.”

Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria had opened Sheen’s cause for canonization in 2002, relying on multiple assurances by then-head of the New York archdiocese Cdl. Egan that New York had no interest in opening Sheen’s cause, and that New York would hand over Sheen’s remains to Peoria — the city where Sheen grew up, went to seminary and was ordained.

The Peoria diocese has spent approximately $1 million over the past 16 years advancing his cause.

The protracted battle over Sheen’s remains even prompted the Vatican to rewrite its rules on saints’ relics.

“Bishop Jenky hopes that the New York Archdiocese will cooperate with Joan Sheen Cunningham and the Diocese of Peoria in the practical matters as to moving the remains of Venerable Archbishop Sheen to Peoria, Illinois,” the Peoria press release stated. “It is the hope that this process will begin immediately.”

Jenky noted that “this ruling was issued on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a feast that Venerable Sheen deeply loved.”

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  1. Could this go to the NYS Court of Appeals? And after that, SCOTUS?
    Since Cd. Dolan allegedly scuttled an agreement by his predecessor, who knows?
    If Bp. Sheen is in Heaven and such could be determined by vigorous examination, it seems as if the cult in Peoria could have saved itself a cool $ million. If he isn’t, as one may deduce from the cold shoulder the Archdiocese has turned against the cause, then Dolan saved a nice piece of change.
    Sheen was inarguably an ecumaniacal cheerleader. If the goofball who built the “crystal cathedral” erected a statue to honor the TV show superstar’s visit to the Left Coast, what else need be said? (Last time I looked, ecumania was a sin and more than one pope referred to it as insanity.)
    Whatever happens, a whole lotta dough has and will change hands. Meantime, back at the ranch, with the Defensor Fidei removed from any canonization process (required under Catholic praxis until JPII) anything the Revolutionaries do in their drive-thru “saint factory” is null, void and meaningless, anyway.

    • gpmtrad says:

      Sheen was inarguably an ecumaniacal cheerleader.

      [The Saint Benedict Center on Bishop Sheen]

      From The Point – March 1953:


      The Most Reverend Fulton J. Sheen, D. D., star of the Du Mont television program Life is Worth Living, and winner of the award “TV Man of the Year,” is the inevitable outcome, the ultimate fruit, of teaching that there is salvation outside the Catholic Church. He has taken the belief that Heaven belongs to the ignorant and the sincere as surely as to the lovers of Our Lady and the receivers of Our Lord in Holy Communion, and has pushed it to its final, fantastic conclusion. For Bishop Sheen, who first won renown by his fashionable instruction of fashionable converts, has now decided to try a new line. He has abandoned preaching the Catholic Faith, and, to the five million people who wait expectantly for his message as it is broadcast from the Adelphi Theater each Tuesday night, he expounds something he feels is more needful and more consoling: his own philosophy.

      This rejection of the dogmas of the Church in favor of his own ideas has been purposeful and assiduous, and Bishop Sheen wants there to be no misunderstanding about it. He has seen to it that no matter what magazine a person might pick up, he is certain to find in it an interview with the Bishop. And the recurrent theme in all these interviews, the one point about which Bishop Sheen is most anxious, is to dissociate himself, as far as his program goes, from any tinge of Catholicism. “Mine is not a religious program,” he proclaims, in his own imitable way: “I am speaking merely as a university lecturer.”

      There is no denying, of course, that as a television message, Bishop Sheen’s has it all over the Catholic Faith. The mere fact that he is the most popular performer on television, whereas if he were preaching the Faith he would be off the air in two weeks, is proof enough of that. As to just what his message is, however, it is not easy to say. He seems to be concerned mainly with fighting such evils as “boredom” and “internal conflict;” in warning his listeners against psychoanalysis, while at the same time he diagnoses their ills in psychoanalytic terms; in urging his listeners to stop reading “Nietzsche one day and Freud the next and Sartre the next” (and some other writer they have never heard of the next), and to get themselves “an abiding philosophy of life.”

      The purpose of his program, he says, is to make people “think.” And this might well be the secret of his popularity. For there is undoubtedly a certain scintillation in having the whole family sit around the television screen, thinking. And the Bishop’s style of presentation is exactly suited to the thinking of America’s television watchers. “If Christ is not God, then He is Anti-Christ.” This, though taken from his religious days, is a fair sample of the kind of cogent aphorism he gives his listeners to mull over.

      But it is not so much what the Bishop says that makes his listeners sit up and take notice as his manner of saying it. For every utterance he makes, from the most dire warning of what will happen to the world if it does not let itself be healed by him, to the most inane description of the kind of paper he uses to make his notes on, is delivered in the manner of an over-done Hamlet reading from the Apocalypse.

      Then, too, there are the well-publicized rumors of the Bishop’s asceticism — talk of hair shirts and holy hours and hot water for breakfast — all of which gives him an unmistakable glamour and manages to make him somehow as attractive as the more lusty entertainers in whose midst he appears.

      It is ironical that, in addition to his television duties, Bishop Sheen also holds the office of National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. The purpose of this Society is to send missionaries into the farthest corners of the world so that everyone might hear the saving message of the Catholic Faith — the very message that Bishop Sheen, speaking each week to five million people, has discarded in favor of an utterly Faith-less message of his own.

  2. I gather that the good folks at the St. Benedict Center won’t be sending vast quantities of moolah to Peoria… 😉
    The Sheen cult is a national institution and the fervorini won’t take Nyet! for an answer. I can picture partisan ninjas storming St. Patrick’s to “rescue” their hero, wearing T-shirts featuring JP2 with the assembled heretics, schismatics and pagan witch doctors in Assisi.

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