Diocese suspends Sheen cause efforts, will still promote message
With “great sadness and disappointment” and after nine years of effort and sacrifice, the Diocese of Peoria is suspending its efforts on behalf of the beatification of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
But the diocese remains committed to promoting the message of the “holy priest” and native of El Paso, who was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria in 1919 and went on to gain worldwide fame as an orator, author, and radio and television pioneer.
In a diocesan statement issued Nov. 3, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, expressed hopes that the Archdiocese of New York, in whose cathedral crypt Archbishop Sheen’s remains are still entombed, will now assume the responsibility of advancing the cause.
“In this endeavor (the bishop) would pledge the cooperation of his diocese,” reads the statement. Bishop Jenky also urged the clergy, religious and faithful of the diocese “to continue to pray for the cause of Archbishop Sheen, whose heroic virtues in announcing the Gospel and serving the poor were an extraordinary blessing in the life of the Catholic Church.”
The decision to suspend diocesan efforts related to the cause came after “the Archdiocese of New York has made it clear that it is not likely that they will ever transfer the remains of Fulton J. Sheen to his home diocese of Peoria,” according to the statement.
Assurances of that transfer were a key to Bishop Jenky’s decision shortly after his arrival in the Diocese of Peoria in 2002 to ask the Vatican to open the sainthood cause of Archbishop Sheen. But formal negotiations conducted in recent months have made it clear the archbishop’s tomb will remain in New York.
While questions regarding the cause’s leadership are difficult, “what we are absolutely clear about is we love Fulton Sheen” and “are 110 percent committed to promoting our local hero,” said Msgr. Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation.
Among the formal ways those efforts will continue are through the Archbishop Sheen museum in the Spalding Pastoral Center, distribution of the film “Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All” produced by the Foundation, comic books which have been designed, and education about the Servant of God in Catholic schools and religious education programs.
Archbishop Sheen’s message and example of faith “has transformed millions of lives and will continue to transform millions of lives,” said Msgr. Deptula.
Bishop Jenky assured that “in his home diocese we believe in Archbishop Sheen’s heroic virtues and in the validity of his message.” The diocese plans to continue to develop the museum and, eventually, would like to establish a research center on his works, life, and teaching.
“The bishop would also like to remind all in his diocese and all those throughout the world who have so enthusiastically supported the Sheen Cause that finally it is only God who makes saints, not men,” reads the diocesan statement.
As of The Catholic Post’s deadline on Wednesday, the Archdiocese of New York had not indicated if it will take on leadership of the cause, said Msgr. Deptula.