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Vatican theologians approve Fulton Sheen miracle

By on Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Bonnie Engstrom claims that her son's life was saved when she prayed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen (CNS)

Bonnie Engstrom claims that her son's life was saved when she prayed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen (CNS)

The possible miracle needed for the beatification of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen took another step toward papal recognition on June 17 when a panel of theologians met at the Vatican, the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation has announced.

As a normal part of the sainthood process, the theologians met to consider whether or not the promoters of Archbishop Sheen’s cause demonstrated that the proposed miracle — the survival of a child delivered stillborn – occurred after prayers for the intercession of Archbishop Sheen alone.

In March, a seven-member board of physicians convoked by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints agreed that there was no natural explanation for why the child’s heart started beating over an hour after his birth.

The child, James Fulton Engstrom, is now three years old and developing normally. His mother, Bonnie Engstrom, said she had no precomposed prayer asking for help from Archbishop Sheen. “I just kept repeating his name over and over in my head: Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen,” said Ms Engstrom.

Archbishop Sheen was a priest in the Diocese of Peoria, which covers central Illinois. He gained fame for his 1950s television show “Life Is Worth Living” and for his 16 years at the helm of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He died on December 9, 1979, in New York.

In a statement released on June 17 by the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria said: “With the recommendations of the medical experts and now the theologians, the case will next be reviewed by the cardinals and bishops,” who are members of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

“Finally, the miracle would be presented to Pope Francis, who would then officially affirm that God performed a miracle through the intercession of Fulton Sheen. There is no timeline as to when these next steps might move forward.”

If Pope Francis formally issues the decree recognising the miracle, “Sheen could then be declared ‘Blessed’ in a ceremony that could be celebrated in Peoria, Sheen’s hometown,” Bishop Jenky said.

Another miracle would be needed for Archbishop Sheen’s canonisation.