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Pope approves Archbishop Sheen’s heroic virtues, step toward sainthoo

Posted By June 29, 2012 | 11:46 am | Spiritual
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has approved the heroic virtues of U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Vatican announced June 28, clearing the way for the advancement of his sainthood cause. Among the others honored in decrees announced the same day were first prelate of Opus Dei, the Canadian and Irish-American founders of two orders of religious women, a priest murdered by the Sicilian Mafia, and 154 martyrs killed during the Spanish Civil War.

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has approved the heroic virtues of U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Vatican announced June 28, clearing the way for the advancement of his sainthood cause.
Among the others honored in decrees announced the same day were first prelate of Opus Dei, the Canadian and Irish-American founders of two orders of religious women, a priest murdered by the Sicilian Mafia, and 154 martyrs killed during the Spanish Civil War.
Archbishop Sheen heroically lived Christian virtues and should be considered “venerable,” said a decree issued by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and signed by Pope Benedict. Before the archbishop can be beatified, the Vatican must recognize that a miracle has occurred through his intercession.
The decree came just more than 13 months after Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Ill., presented Pope Benedict with two thick volumes about the life of Archbishop Sheen, whose home diocese was Peoria.
Archbishop Sheen, who was born in Illinois in 1895 and died in New York in 1979, was an Emmy-winning televangelist. His program, “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 allegedly miraculous healing of a newborn whose parents had prayed to the archbishop’s intercession.
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.
Father Giuseppe Puglisi, a Sicilian priest and activist against organized crime who was killed by the Mafia in 1993, was another of the martyrs recognized.
Martyrs do not need a miracle attributed to their intercession in order to be beatified. However, miracles must be recognized by the Vatican in order for martyrs to be canonized.
Other decrees recognized 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.

 

PHOTO: With evidence of her son’s alleged miraculous healing boxed and sealed in front of a portrait of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Bonnie Engstrom gives a reading at a Dec. 11 Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Ill. Bonnie and James Engstrom of Goodfield, Ill., believe their son James Fulton Engstrom is alive due to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen, whose cause for sainthood is being considered in Rome. (CNS photo/Tom Dermody, The Catholic Post)

Illinois Catholics rejoice over ‘venerable’ decree for Archbishop Sheen
By Catholic News Service
PEORIA, Ill. (CNS) — The Vatican’s June 28 decree that U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen lived a life of heroic virtues and should be considered venerable — advancing his sainthood cause — prompted much rejoicing in his home state of Illinois.
“This is a great day for the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and the Catholic Church in America,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, who added that the “heroic virtues of a son from central Illinois and a priest of Peoria have been recognized by the Catholic Church.”
“Fulton Sheen’s zeal, wisdom, and holiness should help us build our faith,” he said.
Msgr. 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.”
The decree issued by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and signed by Pope Benedict XVI said Archbishop Sheen should be considered venerable because he heroically lived Christian virtues.
In general, the church must then confirm two miracles before sainthood is declared. The first miracle is needed for beatification and the second for canonization.
The decree came just more than 13 months after Bishop Jenky, as head of Archbishop Sheen’s home diocese, presented Pope Benedict with two thick volumes about the life of the prelate.
Archbishop Sheen, who was born in Illinois in 1895 and died in New York in 1979, was an Emmy-winning televangelist. His program, “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 allegedly miraculous healing of a newborn whose parents had prayed to the archbishop’s intercession.
“We are all living through this wonderful moment,” said Andrea Ambrosi, postulator of the cause for canonization of Archbishop Sheen.
“As you can tell, the cause is taking a special road — and quite quickly thus far. This is due to the importance of this cause for Fulton Sheen’s sainthood to the American church and all the faithful. We hope to go on with continued momentum,” she said.
Father Andrew Apostoli, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal from New York who is vice postulator, said he was “excited by this news.”
He similarly noted the significance of the announcement falling on the same day as the Supreme Court decision on health care law, pointing out that Archbishop Sheen was a “great leader of the faith, a defender of the freedom of religion and of our rights as Americans.”
He said Archbishop Sheen “certainly had much to say in defending religious freedom — not just in our country but around the world.”
Oblate Father Andrew Small, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, pointed out that Archbishop Sheen’s role as head of the Propagation of the Faith from 1950 to 1966 enabled him to spread the Gospel message “far and wide — from Peoria to Pretoria; New York to New Delhi.”
“He teaches us still that the church is missionary by her very nature,” he added.
Bishop Jenky announced that he will celebrate a public Mass of Thanksgiving to honor Archbishop Sheen Sept. 9 in Peoria’s Cathedral of St. Mary — the same cathedral where the archbishop was ordained to the priesthood.