New York, Habeas Corpus!


Steve Skojec, at One Peter Five, has more info about how the New York Archdiocese pulled the rug out from under the Peoria diocese sponsorship of the canonization efforts on behalf of Bishop Sheen:


In response to the statement from the Archdiocese of New York on the dispute over the transfer of Venerable Fulton Sheen’s remains to Peoria for the next stage of the canonization process, the Diocese of Peoria has issued their own “Additional Clarifications” release. It’s in PDF format at the diocesan website, so I’ll reproduce it here for ease of reading:

After an outpouring of great support for the actions taken by Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., Bishop of the Diocese of Peoria regarding the suspension of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Cause of Sainthood, the Diocese is providing additional clarifications.

According to the Chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria, Patricia Gibson, who has worked with the Cause from the beginning, “Bishop Jenky only agreed to pursue the cause for canonization of Fulton Sheen after he was assured by the Archdiocese of New York that they had no interest in pursuing the cause but would support Peoria’s efforts. Specifically, Bishop Jenky was told by Cardinal Egan in September 2002 that New York was not interested in pursuing the cause. He also indicated that at the appropriate time he would facilitate the transfer of the body to Peoria.

In December 2004, Cardinal Egan again confirmed at a meeting in New York with Bishop Jenky that he continued to support the efforts of the Cause and reassured him that he would work to transfer the body at the appropriate time to be enshrined in the Peoria Cathedral.” Based on this ongoing assurance, Bishop Jenky wrote to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in early 2005 asking for the body to be transferred to Peoria. They did not in any way forbid the transfer of the body but simply indicated that it was not the appropriate time. The Congregation indicated that “the transfer was not opportune at this time because the Diocesan inquiry had just been started in the Diocese of Peoria.” With this inquiry complete and a miracle being attributed to Sheen, now is an appropriate time.

On June 27, 2014, the Diocese of Peoria received the most recent communication from the Archdiocese of New York. This letter from its lawyer definitively stated that it would never allow the examination of the body, the securing of relics or the transfer of the body. Upon receiving this shocking statement and consulting with advisors to the Sheen Cause, Bishop Jenky believed that he had no choice but to stop his efforts and suspend the Cause.

Gibson added, “It is essential to realize that Bishop Jenky now feels a great responsibility to be faithful to the thousands of supporters throughout Central Illinois, the nation and the world, in regard to the status of the cause. From the beginning, Bishop Jenky sought assurances that New York did not want to undertake the Cause and would support Peoria’s efforts. This assurance was given before the process ever began. Bishop Jenky also confirmed that at the appropriate time Fulton Sheen’s body would be transferred to his boyhood home and be placed in a shrine in St. Mary’s Cathedral where he was ordained. Over the last twelve years, countless people have offered their time and financial support for these efforts in order not only to spread the word about Fulton Sheen’s virtues and holiness but also to prepare a shrine in Peoria upon his beatification. After New York clearly turned down the Cause, Peoria was happy to put forth the lengthy work and effort because of how much he is loved by the priests and lay faithful in this Diocese.”

Clearly Archbishop Sheen’s wishes for his final resting place could not have anticipated that he would go through a canonization process led by his native Diocese of Peoria, after it was turned down by the Archdiocese of New York. The Diocese of Peoria has heard from several relatives this week regarding their desire that Bishop Jenky continue to work towards having the body transferred as was presumed from the beginning.

The Chancellor, Patricia Gibson, further states, “The actions taken by Bishop Jenky this week reflect his strong desire to be true to the countless supporters of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Cause who for over twelve years have labored and supported bringing the message of Fulton Sheen and his sanctity to the world. Bishop Jenky continues to hope that the promises made twelve years ago will be honored.”

Again, we are in a position of having to discern where the truth is found. In a post on September 4th that I found highly informative (which has since mysteriously disappeared and leads to a 404 error; here’s a cached version) Brandon Vogt provided the following information relevant to this situation:

I reached out to a close friend of mine, who is intimately involved in the cause, to see if there was more to the story. On the condition of anonymity, he shared that according to his understanding, the Archdiocese of New York got their civil lawyers involved, and they refused to even let Sheen’s tomb be opened, as required by the Canonical process at this point. They said that all this talk of relics and remains is distasteful to Americans. (I’m guessing they have not seen the crowds venerating John Paul II, Mother Teresa, or the relics of the Little Flower.)

My friend doesn’t think Cardinal Dolan is involved in this decision directly, but probably following his advisers.

He also noted that once the lawyers expressed their unwillingness to open the tomb, Bishop Jenky contacted the Congregation for Saints to say that the cause was at a stopping point until the remains could be inspected. He asked for their help to get that done. But instead of offering help, they responded that they would be forced to archive the cause since it was at a stopping point, and that Peoria and New York would have to work it out among themselves.

All of that occurred over two months ago. My friend believes Bishop Jenky was trying to see if something could be worked out just to inspect the remains, but when New York continued to give an absolute no, he felt obligated to announce things publicly.

My friend also said he had personally seen letters from the Holy See saying the body should be in Peoria, and also letters from the Archbishops of New York agreeing to this. He also said that Sheen did not ask to be buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Cardinal Cooke insisted on that. He believes Sheen asked to be buried with other priests in a cemetery in the Bronx. The great majority of his remaining family now is in favor of the body and tomb being located in Peoria.

Go here to read the rest.  This isn’t over. Like Lincoln, Bishop Sheen is a treasured son of Illinois and we will see his canonization process through in spite of the obstructions of New York, and, like Lincoln, his body will eventually rest, in honor, in Illinois.  In Illinois Bishop Sheen is celebrated with museums and foundations and his memory is kept evergreen.  In New York he is largely forgotten and no attempt was made to begin the canonization process there.   This attempt by New York, at this lated date, to hijack the canonization process for reasons unknown is completely contemptible.

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  1. I spent a couple of years with the Redemptorists – 1958 – 59 discerning a vocation to the priesthood – which never happened. We often would listen intently to recordings of Bp. Fulton Sheen’s broadcasts. He was a fascinating speaker and a true son pf the Church- a bishop to be admired. I still check out his youtube speaches – he has a great and dramatic style.
    Why is Dolan doing this – that man has been a huge disappointment. His cousin is a bishop emeritus here in NZ, and I wonder if he agrees with what his cousin is doing.

  2. “Sometimes a cloud can hide a star. Sometimes our selfishness can hide God.
    Despite the clouds and despite our selfishness, the star still shines and God still loves.” Archbishop F.J. Sheen –

    May the selfishness cease, and the process for sainthood continue on.

  3. Cynicism is suppose to be wrong, but after the Cardinal’s other recent actions I must wonder if the offer to take over the process is simply an attempt to profit from the work of others, or more deviously the key to finally squashing the Cause all together by being in charge of it.

  4. Am I wrong in imagining that the Archdiocese of New York has a very long memory and is stamped in the image of Cardinal Spellman, who was not shy in expressing a certain loathing for the Archbishop?

  5. “In 1957 Francis Cardinal Spellman, the powerful Archbishop of New York, insisted that Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s Society for the Propagation of the Faith owed the Archdiocese of New York one million dollars for supplies that the Society had distributed to impoverished people around the world. This dispute eventually made its way into the Pope’s office, and was settled when Pope Pius XII learned via a phone call to President Eisenhower that the surplus aid had been donated by the U.S. government to the Church free of charge. Not wishing to humble a longtime friend before another prelate of a lesser rank, the Pope reminded the two bishops that forgiveness was Divine and they should go in peace. He then gave them his blessing.

    Once outside the Pope’s office an enraged Cardinal Spellman turned to Archbishop Sheen and shouted angrily, “I will get even with you!” Unmoved, the Archbishop replied while looking squarely at the Cardinal with his penetrating dark eyes, “Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius!”

    Unfortunately for Archbishop Sheen, Cardinal Spellman made good his threat. His much watched television series was not renewed despite its increasing popularity, and the Archbishop was transferred to a small diocese in Upstate New York, which Cardinal Spellman and other prelates referred to as an “ecclesiastical Siberia.””

  6. and the Archbishop was transferred to a small diocese in Upstate New York, which Cardinal Spellman and other prelates referred to as an “ecclesiastical Siberia.””

    Sheen was Bishop of Rochester from 1966 to 1969, not Bishop of Ogdensburg (which actually is a small diocese up in the North Country). The diocese was and is one of middling dimensions and greater Rochester is as we speak about 3x the size of greater Peoria and hosts a research university, a large private polytechnic, a university medical complex, and a well-patronized art scene, so it’s not as if it presented a measure of provincialism with which Bp. Sheen was unaccustomed. The trouble was (per both published reports and clergy I’ve talked to) that Bp. Sheen was ill-adapted to the day-to-day business of running a diocese and was also somewhat disoriented by the Council (“a bad fit”, one priest told me).

  7. The veneration of saints and relics is not medieval. This hierarchical infighting is medieval. Time to ‘repent’, grow up, whatever fits

  8. “Unfortunately for Archbishop Sheen, Cardinal Spellman made good his threat. His much watched television series was not renewed despite its increasing popularity, and the Archbishop was transferred to a small diocese in Upstate New York, which Cardinal Spellman and other prelates referred to as an “ecclesiastical Siberia.””
    I can guess that there will not be a Saint Cardinal Spellman for a long time.

  9. This situation is just the type fiasco our Church does not need. It is a self inflicted gun shot type wound that our hierarchy has foisted on the folks in the pews. The man was a saintly person and a real leader. He exemplified what a Bishop’s main duty really is “Being a Teacher for the Flock”. He spent his last years giving retreats for priests and the theme of the retreat was always the “Holy Hour”. It appears that New York has realized a revenue stream being lost by the Archbishop being interred in Peoria and now want to lay claim to the work started and finished by the Archbishop of Peoria. Dolan is a typical Madison avenue type and is going to try and dictate what will and will not play in Peoria. Shame on him! The Pope can make all this misdirection come to a halt and should. I doubt he will. For one, I believe that Bishop Sheen is part of the Church Triumphant. Anyone trying to block his cause will find it hard to make the Church Suffering in the next life. This pettiness does not bode well for our leadership. I have been praying for the intercession of Venerable Sheen for years along with praying for his Canonization.

  10. Maybe Cardinal Dolan should recall the words of Gamaliel in Acts 5:38-39:
    “…if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”

  11. So true, Botolph, that the veneration of relics is not medieval. Could it be that, through the aid of modern technology, someone of those ‘smartypants’ in New York (excuse my language but I am really distressed)
    Discovered a beautifully incorrupt ArchBishop Sheen? After the joyous miracle attributed to him? Life restored to a stillborn baby? Not so far fetched a theory! Oh! Wow! What a shot in the arm that would be to millions of weary Catholics!
    The world would flock to Peoria to see its’ beloved Bishop Sheen again!

    Rome would not be happy.

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