Efforts to canonize Archbishop Fulton Sheen have been suspended indefinitely, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, the diocese said that the process leading to beatification and canonization was being halted, despite having been moving smoothly up until now.
In fact, expectations were for a beatification ceremony as soon as next year, following only a vote by the College of Cardinals and approval by Pope Francis after a 12-year-long effort by the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation headed by Bishop Daniel Jenky.
However, apparently the Archdiocese of New York denied Jenky’s request to move Sheen’s remains to Peoria for the process of official inspection and to take first class relics from the remains.
“After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive,” the diocese said in a statement thanking supporters for the donations of time and money they have made to the cause.
The full statement is below:
It is with immense sadness that the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria andPresident of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, announced today that the Cause for Sheen’s beatification and canonization has for the foreseeable future been suspended. The process to verify a possible miracle attributed to Sheen had been going extremely well, and only awaited a vote of the Cardinals and the approval of the Holy Father. There was every indication that a possible date for beatification in Peoria would have been scheduled for as early as the coming year. The Holy See expected that the remains of Venerable Sheen would be moved to Peoria where official inspection would be made and first class relics be taken. Subsequently, the Archdiocese of New York denied Bishop Jenky’s request to move the body to Peoria. After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen Cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive.
Countless supporters especially from the local church in Central Illinois have given their time, treasure and talent for this good work with the clear understanding that the body of Venerable Sheen would return to the Diocese. Bishop Jenky was personally assured on several occasions by the Archdiocese of New York that the transfer of the body would take place at the appropriate time. New York’s change of mind took place as the work on behalf of the Cause had reached a significant stage.
Bishop Jenky is what is technically called the “actor” of the Sheen Cause. The Diocese of Peoria and the Sheen Foundation have prayed and labored for this good work for the last twelve years.The Bishop is heartbroken not only for his flock in Peoria but also for the many supporters of the Sheen Cause from throughout the world who have so generously supported Peoria’s efforts. It should be noted, however, that saints are always made by God not by man. Efforts for many causes have sometimes taken decades or even centuries. Bishop Jenky urges that those who support the Sheen Cause continue their prayers that God’s will be made manifest. No further comment will be released at this time
UPDATE: Reaction from the woman who was instrumental in what many believed would be Sheen’s beatification:
The mother who prayed for the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen when her son was born still-born has expressed her sadness and confusion following the news that his Cause for canonization has been stalled.
Bonnie Engstrom told the Catholic Herald: “We are very disappointed that the cause to canonise Venerable Fulton Sheen had to be closed, especially because it had been progressing so well. We are incredibly saddened and confused by the Archdiocese of New York’s decision to not cooperate with the Sheen Foundation on the cause. We trust in the goodness of God.”
UPDATE II: The Archdiocese of New York has responded with a statement. Read it here.