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BREAKING: Fulton Sheen’s Family Petitions Court to Move Body to Illinois

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 06/14/16

In theory, this could re-start the stalled sainthood process.

The press release:

It is with great joy that the Diocese of Peoria announces that the family of the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen has petitioned the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of New York to allow the transfer of his remains to Peoria, Illinois. Mrs. Joan Sheen Cunningham, the oldest living relative, with the support of the other living relatives of Archbishop Sheen, has filed the necessary paperwork to carry out this transfer. The transfer can be carried out as soon as the court is able to grant approval in this matter.  Currently, the late archbishop is entombed in St. Patrick Cathedral. The Bishop of Peoria, Daniel Jenky, C.S.C., is immensely grateful for the collaboration of Mrs. Joan Sheen Cunningham and her family. With the transfer of the body, Bishop Jenky looks forward to the resumption of the Cause for Beatification of the Venerable Archbishop Sheen. With the progress that the Cause has already made, a beatification could be celebrated shortly after the arrival of the remains in Peoria and with the approval of Pope Francis.

Read more. 

Brandon Vogt has additional details and background.

This marks a significant 180 degree about face for the archbishop’s niece, who just two years ago objected to moving his bodyfrom New York City:

The very public tug-of-war over the body of Archbishop Sheen, has shocked many Catholics, in part because it seems like something that belongs in another era.

“We should have moved out of the 14th century by now,” said Joan Sheen Cunningham of Yonkers, a niece of the archbishop and, at 87, his oldest living relative. “I would have thought so.” She wants the body to remain where it is.

“All this focus on the body, the body,” Mrs. Cunningham said in an interview last week. “It’s forgetting what the purpose of the whole thing is. To keep someone from coming beatified over this, I think, is wrong.”

Archbishop Sheen was best known for reaching up to 30 million viewers each week as the charismatic host of the television show “Life Is Worth Living,” which ran from 1951 to 1957. At a time when American Catholics were still struggling for acceptance in the United States, he became a hero to many, including Cardinal Dolan, then a young boy.

To honor his legacy, Cardinal Dolan used archdiocesan funds to create the Sheen Center, a performing arts center in Manhattan that opened this year. And he has repeatedly said the body should remain in New York. “You know, Bishop Sheen only spent a few years in Peoria,” he said in 2009 when the issue started brewing. “And he loved New York.”

Stay tuned.

Photo: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

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