Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sheen's Cause for Canonization Suspended

I firmly believe that it would be a great good for the Catholic Church to declare Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen a Saint.  His life and teachings are relevant and increasingly important for our culture to hear.  Through his example, I am convinced that many souls can continue to experience conversion and deepen their relationship with Christ.  Sheen's model of devotion to the Eucharist, love of Mary, and powerful evangelization is a force that we would be remiss to ignore today or in the future.

I also firmly believe that a great good was done through Sheen's intercession by the work of Christ in the healing of James Fulton Engstrom.  This alleged miracle's investigation, which is was being wrapped up at the Vatican, has been a powerful, life giving story that has touched hearts and moved thousands to prayer.  James' story has convinced many that Jesus' power to heal is not merely a storybook idea found in the New Testament.  This miracle should continue to be shared so that hope can be renewed in the strength found in prayer and our connection to the Communion of Saints.

I also believe that Sheen and his teachings can and should be spread to future generations.  I have had an amazing experience teaching our faith through the lens of Sheen's life.  My 5th grade students  (and now current 6th and 7th graders) have been impacted by this great man and the example that he set for our modern culture, and many of them were devastated when they heard the news today.

The news, you ask?  Please read this press release from the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.  Fulton Sheen's Cause for Canonization has been suspended, based on the burial location of his body.

The Archdiocese of New York put out this statement today.  Here is part of it:

"The Congregation for the Causes of Saints did recently ask the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria to enter into a dialogue to see if there was a way to continue progress in moving the cause forward. Discussions with Peoria centered on two areas: the possible exhumation and study of the body; and the possible collection of “first class relics” of Archbishop Sheen.   Cardinal Timothy Dolan did express a hesitance in exhuming the body, unless the Congregation for the Causes of Saints directed that it be done, unless the process was approved by the family, that it be done modestly and reverently, and that the exhumation met the requirements of New York State law. He consulted with the family, who gave their approval if it would help advance the cause."

Did you see the line "unless the Congregation for the Causes of Saints decreed it to be done"?

That is where you come in.

With all due respect, we need to let the Congregation and Pope Francis know that we want Sheen's Canonization to move forward.  The logistics of these details need to be worked out, and if it takes intervention from the Vatican, so be it.

If you believe that Sheen would be a great example for further generations to follow, if you believe that Christ's power was made manifest in the healing of James Fulton, if you believe that our Church needs more modern leaders who stand up for what is right, please write a letter as soon as possible to the following addresses:

Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Vatican City State 00120

His Holiness Pope Francis
Vatican City State 00120

If you are interested in a form letter to get you started, Bonnie did the hard work for you here
Then get your kids, friends, students, CCD kids, family, and Bible study to write as well.
My students wrote some pretty convincing letters today.

"I heard yesterday that Fulton Sheen's Cause for Canonization was closed.  Me, my friends and family members are very disappointed."

"I am not the only one who is sad.  My entire school is sad... I think that he is a good role model for my class and school...I bet he will inspire a lot of people.  He has already inspired me."

"Dear Pope Francis, I think that you are a great Pope and I follow your actions...Please keep your great deeds up and reopen Fulton Sheen's Cause for Canonization!"

"I don't know if you know this, but Fulton Sheen helped raise a baby from the dead!  A family very much loved Fulton Sheen.  They named their baby after him.  But his heart stopped beating for 61 minutes.  The family asked Fulton Sheen to pray, and he came back to life!  Please reconsider opening his Cause!"

"I think Fulton Sheen was a good and holy man, a great priest, and a great Catholic example for others.  He loved Mary very much and wanted to teach everyone about God.  I hope that his Cause for Canonization is reopened very soon!"

Come on Papa Francis, how can you say no my kiddos?


  1. I saw your post and was very disturbed by the news.

    I never knew anything about Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, except that I would hear his name come up on the Catholic radio station and on TV here and there. It wasn't until I came upon your website and read how truly devoted you are to him and saw all of the activities you created that included Archbishop Sheen's life that I decided to find out more. What a blessing it has been for me to get to know him like I have.

    I read about the suspension of the process of canonization and it seems that one of the major setbacks is who should get to keep his body, either Peoria or New York. That seems to be the main issue at hand. Archbishop Sheen's wishes were that upon his death, he wanted his body to be buried in New York, not Peoria. Can't the cause move forward and leave his body where he had always wished it to be? I will definitely pray for his canonization to continue.

    1. I am so glad that you have been getting to know Sheen! I truly believe that he is a Saints that we need for our times.

      You are right in that the hold up is his body. Sheen requested that he be buried in a cemetery for priests in NYC (which he wasn't- they entombed him at St. Patricks Cathedral) but Sheen never could have foreseen that one day a Cause for His Canonization would be pursued and would progress to this point.

      The canonical norm for this step is the examination of the body, both to see what condition it is in (for example, is it incorrupt?) and to collect first class relics for veneration. New York has said that they will not allow either to happen, which means the Canonization process stops. For more information, please read Peoria's latest press release here:

      Thank you so much for your prayers for his canonization. Asking God's will to be done is the most important thing right now!

  2. Katie, do you think I could share your post on my blog? With all credit given to you? You wrote it perfectly.