NY MAY BLOCK REMOVAL OF ABP. SHEEN’S BODY — AGAIN

NY MAY BLOCK REMOVAL OF ABP. SHEEN’S BODY — AGAIN

by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 12, 2018    

Journalist: New York ‘acting like a petulant, whiny teen’

NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) – The New York archdiocese has made clear it’s not ready to comply with the recent court ruling on Abp. Fulton Sheen, raising fears it will continue the lengthy and costly court battle over the venerable archbishop’s remains.

Superior Court Judge Arlene Bluth ruled Friday that Joan Sheen Cunningham, niece and closest living relative to Sheen, with legal rights over his body, could have her uncle’s remains moved to Peoria, Illinois in order to advance his cause for canonization. On Monday, the trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (where Sheen’s body rests) issued a statement expressing the possibility of appealing the decision: “We will review this decision carefully with our attorneys and determine what next steps might be taken.”

New York’s pursuit of civil litigation blocks the advancement of the Cause.Tweet

The trustees went on to claim that Sheen’s cause “can progress without any transfer of the remains” — a point rejected by the Peoria diocese, which issued a response clarifying the statement’s “inaccuracies”:

The Archdiocese of New York’s press release also state that the Cause can progress without the transfer of the remains. This is simply not true. In 2017, the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome established new rules, which unequivocally provide direction for this Cause. First, the new rules clearly stated that the wishes of the family, regarding the earthly remains of a potential saint, must be respected. … Second, the new rules indicate that a Cause can advance only when all civil litigation is resolved. In this case, New York’s pursuit of civil litigation blocks the advancement of the Cause.

Monsignor James Kruse, Vicar General of the Peoria diocese, spoke with Church Militant.

“The Vatican’s 2017 rules make clear the wishes of the family — in this case, Joan Sheen Cunningham — must be respected and litigation must be resolved before Abp. Sheen’s cause can advance,” he said. “The statement from New York claiming that the beatification of Abp. Fulton Sheen can advance without transfer of the body is simply untrue.”

The press release from Peoria noted it is “unprecedented” for remains not to be located in the same place as where the cause is advanced and where the beatification will take place — Peoria.

“If they determine to continue with legal actions,” the press release noted, “it will be the third time that this has been brought to court, despite the court ruling twice in Joan Sheen Cunningham’s favor.”

New York “has done almost nothing in the last fifteen years to assist in the Cause’s lengthy, complicated and laborious process,” the Peoria diocese clarified. “Instead, the Archdiocese of New York has only provided expensive legal resistance during the last two years by refusing to respect the legally supported petition of Joan Sheen Cunningham.”

Journalist Phil Luciano published a column asking how long New York will continue to hold up the canonization.

This is no longer a court battle about propriety, but pride. Stunned by repeated legal victories by the Peoria Diocese, the New York Archdiocese refuses to budge. It’s acting like a petulant, whiny teen who refuses to listen to his parents, even when flat-out wrong. It’s like big, bad New York can’t believe it’s been outwitted by lil’ ol’ Peoria.

Kruse told Church Militant the Peoria diocese is “requesting prayers for a renewed spirit of cooperation from the archdiocese of New York for Abp. Sheen’s cause to be brought to completion.”

The Peoria diocese has already been in contact with the Vatican, which has been assisting with the cause and has assured the diocese, based on this latest court ruling, that Pope Francis could be announcing Sheen’s beatification “in the very near future.”

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2 comments on “NY MAY BLOCK REMOVAL OF ABP. SHEEN’S BODY — AGAIN

  1. [Confirmed] NY Archdiocese Rejects Court Ruling, Appeals Sheen Case
    by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D. • ChurchMilitant.com • June 15, 2018
    Attorney: ‘I can only attribute this appeal as a continuation of the archdiocese’s vendetta against Abp. Sheen’
    [Luke 17:37 (Confraternity Version): “Wherever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” Some translations render “eagles” as “vultures” – appropriate for Cardinal Tiny Tim and his minions! – AQ Tom]
    NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) – Confirming fears of further drawing out costly litigation, the archdiocese of New York has filed an appeal to block the latest court ruling over Abp. Fulton J. Sheen’s remains.
    /
    “It mystifies me that the archdiocese would intentionally deprive Abp. Sheen and all the Catholics throughout the world of the opportunity to have Abp. Sheen continue to fulfill his destiny as an intermediary between GOD and the people,” Steve Cohn, attorney for Joan Sheen Cunningham, told Church Militant. “I can only attribute this appeal as a continuation of the archdiocese’s vendetta against Abp. Sheen.”
    /
    In a ruling handed down on June 8, Judge Arlene Bluth of the Supreme Court of New York ruled that 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 and moved to Peoria, Illinois.
    /
    “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 the same day. “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 archdiocese, however, is refusing to comply with the judgment. After the June 8 ruling, Cunningham had brought a petition to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to remove her uncle’s remains from the crypt, but was rebuffed by cathedral trustees.
    /
    In its pre-argument statement, the archdiocese makes clear it does “not consent to the disinterment and relocation of Archbishop Sheen’s remains,” opposing the court ruling “on the grounds that Archbishop Sheen’s expressed and unconditional wish was to be buried in New York and no good and substantial reasons exist to disinter Archbishop Sheen’s remains after nearly four decades of repose.”
    /
    The archdiocese also accuses the lower court of misapplying the law, disregarding evidence of Sheen’s “clear intent” and improperly ruling on matters of Church law, among other things.
    /
    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.
    /
    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 15 years advancing his cause.
    /
    The last time the Sheen case was heard before the appellate court, the court ruled 3–2 in favor of sending the case back for an evidentiary rehearing, specifically with regard to testimony by Msgr. Hilary Franco, who claims Sheen told him multiple times he had wanted to be buried at St. Patrick’s Cathedral — claims vigorously denied by his niece Cunningham.
    /
    “I don’t know whether he’s imagining it or what. I can’t believe that this ever took place,” Cunningham told Church Militant in 2016. “If that had ever been told to him [Abp. Sheen], he would’ve told me.”
    /
    According to Cunningham, the only offer to bury Sheen in St. Patrick’s took place after Sheen’s death, when Cdl. Terence Cooke, then head of the archdiocese, called Cunningham to ask her permission to bury Sheen in the crypt.
    /
    “He wanted to do it in order to make up for some of the treatment that my uncle had suffered in New York,” Cunningham explained, “and I am sure he would’ve said that he had spoken to my uncle about it. Why would he call and ask permission?”
    /
    “I think he’d like to pretend he was closer to my uncle than he actually was,” she said. “I don’t think he was as close to my uncle as he claims he was. He did work for him, but you know, you can work for someone and not be close to them.”
    /
    She added, “And all the time when we used to go down to [Abp. Sheen’s] residence … never once was [Msgr. Franco] invited for dinner when we were all there. He was never around; I never saw him once when I was there.”
    /
    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 in her June 8 decision.
    /
    Cunningham has 30 days to respond to the appeal.

  2. Well, the good lady merits sympathy and her emotional response has cost Peoria a ton of loot… but I’ll bet rollin’, rollin’ Dolan ends up winning.
    /
    Can anyone suggest how where Sheen’s remains being translated to Peoria have any material effect on the cause? When the Church began investigating the cause of a truly uncontroversial Saint, one Dominic Guzman, they had to dig a bunch of dry wells before they eventually found him, under a monastery path, since he told his magnificent early Dominican disciples he could care less where they planted him. Apparently they took him at his word since no one could remember where they had.
    /
    And that, boys and girls, is because St. Dominic had humility. This whole farce has already exceeded the limits of an opera buffa. I think we’re headed into Gong Show territory, now.
    /
    Btw, a Wiki bio, if I recall accurately, mentions that Sheen donated $10 million of his personal funds to the missions he sponsored. Not a bad piece of change even for a radio/TV superstar. I hope he’s in Heaven but I really could care less if he’s ever canonized. There are quite a few, far better, candidate’s causes gathering dust in the Vatican and one more headline grabbing court p—‘g contest, starring the USCCCP’s answer to Minnesota Fats, is only an irritating distraction.

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