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Vatican declares Archbishop Fulton Sheen to be Venerable

By on Thursday, 28 June 2012

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (CNS)

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (CNS)

Pope Benedict XVI has approved the heroic virtues of US Archbishop Fulton Sheen, clearing the way for the advancement of his sainthood cause.

The announcement came just over 13 months after Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, presented Pope Benedict XVI with two thick volumes about the life of Archbishop Sheen, whose home diocese was Peoria.

The decree from the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, signed by Pope Benedict, said Archbishop Sheen heroically lived Christian virtues and was “Venerable”. Before he can be beatified, the Vatican must recognise that a miracle has occurred through his intercession.

Archbishop Sheen, who was born in Illinois in 1895 and died in New York in 1979, was an Emmy-winning televangelist. His programme, “Life is Worth Living,” aired in the United States from 1951 to 1957.

Last September, a tribunal of inquiry was sworn in to investigate the alleged miraculous healing of a newborn whose parents prayed to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen.

The Vatican also announced papal decrees approving the beatification of 158 men and women, including 156 martyrs, all but two of them Spaniards, killed during their country’s 1936-39 Civil War.

Fr Giuseppe Puglisi, a Sicilian priest and activist against organised crime who was killed by the Mafia in 1993, was another of the martyrs recognised.

Martyrs do not need a miracle attributed to their intercession in order to be beatified. However, miracles must be recognised by the Vatican in order for martyrs to be canonised.

Other decrees recognised the heroic virtues of eight men and women, including:

- Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the first prelate of Opus Dei.

- Mother Marie-Josephte Fitzbach, founder of the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec.

- Mother Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory, the Irish-born founder of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, who died in New York state in 1984.

Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, welcomed the declaration that Archbishop Sheen had lived a life of virtue. He said: “This is a great day for the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and the Catholic Church in America,” adding that the “heroic virtues of a son from central Illinois and a priest of Peoria have been recognised by the Catholic Church”.

“Fulton Sheen’s zeal, wisdom, and holiness should help us build our faith,” he said.

Mgr Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation in Peoria, said it was “not a coincidence that the Church would render its decision on the heroic virtue of Archbishop Sheen on the same day as the Supreme Court issues its decision on the health care plan”.

He said the timing of the announcement shows how the Church in the United States “needs heroes” and that Archbishop Sheen can “be an inspiration and a consolation to our bishops and other Church leaders” since he was “a man of courage, and priest of prayer”.

  • Adam

    Deo Gratias!

  • Matthew McGuinness

    Just goes to show that eloquent, unpatronising and direct statement of the truth works, no matter what the medium.

  • paulpriest

    Doing a little Snoopy dance…
    It’s not merely Fulton Sheen’s ability to preach, evangelise, catechise etc…it’s also his sparkling intellect..
    Anyone who wants to understand Thomism and can’t exactl get their heads round Gilson or Copleston or even’s a little secret..and it is pure diamond dust:
    “God & Intelligence in modern Philosophy” – his 1925 doctoral thesis in book form [intro by GKC!]

    A moment like this CANNOT go by without this story :

    “A famous story in the life of Archbishop Sheen illustrates this
    [spiritual work of mercy] well. As a young priest, he was on duty at
    St. Patrick’s Church in Soho Square in London. A woman, an actress,
    came to the rectory to speak with a priest about her rather sinful
    lifestyle. However, to get up the courage to do so, she drank quite a
    bit. As young Fr. Sheen tried to speak to her about her immoral living,
    it was apparent that because she had drunk so much, she could not
    understand what he was saying to her. So he asked her, “Would you come back and see
    me when you are feeling better?” She answered, “Yes, but on one
    condition: that you promise me you will not ask me to go to
    Confession!” Fr. Sheen promised her. In fact, he promised three times
    in all: twice before she left, and once when she came back! When she returned in a sober state, they spoke for about an hour and she felt much better! As she was ready
    to leave, he said to her, “Can I show you the inside of our Church? We
    have some very beautiful paintings there.” She said, “Yes,” and as they were walking along the side aisle, they came by the confessional, and he pushed her right in. He kept his promise not to ask her to go to confession! The woman made a confession of her whole life, and later
    on became a cloistered nun for over forty years in nearby Tybourn
    Convent in London. When the woman kept saying, “Promise me you will not
    ask me to go to confession,” young Fr. Sheen realized that she was
    really unconsciously yearning to go to the Sacrament of God’s mercy!
    She was protesting too much, and it became evident that what she really needed and wanted was God’s forgiveness.”

    Sermons only a few steps from Heaven…why don’t we get them like this any more? [ESPECIALLY from our Bishops!]

  • Intheclearchannel

    story matters. You deeply matter. Your road from illness, pain and suffering
    to wellness. Let’s come together. We need a new paradigm. New ways to heal

  • Intheclearchannel

    story matters. You deeply matter. Your road from illness, pain and suffering
    to wellness. Let’s come together. We need a new paradigm. New ways to heal

  • chiaramonti

    He also told stories against himself, frequently a sign of humility if not holiness. When engaged to speak in a public venue in New York he went out from his hotel to post some letters. As he needed some stamps he asked a passing boy if he could direct him to the post office. The child did so and he asked the boy if he would like a ticket for his lecture that evening. Having been told that the subject of the talk was “How to get to Heaven”, the boy declined the invitation. “You don’t even know your way to the Post Office!” he said.

  • Pastizzi56

    I always liked reading his talks and thoughts in book form which I used to borrow from a religious library.

    As can be seen from comments below many anecdotal stories surround the figure of this charismatic and humble bishop.

    The one I liked most is the following:

    Once when he was
    speaking at a church, and a baby started crying the mother got up to take the
    baby out. Archbishop Sheen interrupted his talk to say, “Oh, please
    don’t leave. The baby isn’t bothering me.” The mother apparently replied,
    “No, but you’re bothering him.”

  • Catherine

    Mother Angeline Teresa venerable?  Not hardly.   I somtimes doubt the wisdom of the Church.  While she was a nice person, and one with whom I was well-acquainted with having been in the Carmelites for the Aged and Infirm for many years, I can’t see her a being a “venerable” person.  She was very  worldly   Was driven around in the limo with vanity plates and enjoyed many a fine table feast.  hardly in the same category as Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  However, I have no doubt that the sisters of the community (what’s left of them) will be giddy with glee.  Good luck!!

  • Nat_ons

    Sadly, only one answer suffices to the puzzler why he has so few able disciples now – and one that The Servant of God, Archbishop Sheen (and GK Chesterton et al) would have understood all too well: Satan, our devouring but tempting Accuser, and the smoke screen he has set up within the body of the Church politic.

    There are many souls witnessing in the church catholic even today who could follow in the footsteps of Newman, Belloc, Chesterton and Sheen for this century and beyond. Indeed, there are some  who might not merely follow in those giant footsteps, but who – on the shoulders of these giants – might attain to untold and then unimaginable outreach for Christ. Even on this site there are those who do undertake something the herculean tasks that such witness requires; too modest as they may feel, and too unloved as they might well  be by church authority, many are sunk into a sort of yawed yapping version of Father Coughlin’s political diatribe; hence, as with Father Coughlin, the message though necessary and basically firm is all too easily dismissed as vile rhetoric – or is lost in it (rather than offering a clear sighted and well-balanced vision presented in generous – even humorous – yet always faithful language).

    Of course individual gift is something that may appear as all but unique in Newman, Belloc, Chesterton and Sheen .. great souls, abounding intellects, fine educations .. yet the same might be said by them of Albert, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Scotus et al – however, due opportunity, gladdening support and determined fidelity mark out all these souls, even in their human failings.

  • HapHarris

    Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is largely responsible for my having become a Catholic. I started watching his TV show when I was 14 years old and reading his weekly newspaper column in the Kansas City Star.   I converted six years later while serving in the US NAVY.  

  • Parasum
  • David Mullen

    I am a great admirer of Fulton Sheen but he had his faults too lets remember – mainly a tendancy to vanity (of which he was ashamed later in life) and despite being a prolific scholar he once claimed falsely to have a DD from Rome although the qualifications in philosophy and theology he did have far outway this technicality of early ambition!

  • revelationman is very powerful and very relevant to today’s world