National News

Illinois Diocese Wins Latest Legal Battle Over Fulton Sheen’s Body

By Christopher White, The Tablet’s National Correspondent 

Father Charles P. Connor prays before the tomb of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. (Photo Catholic News Service/Gregory A. Shemitz)

NEW YORK – Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s remains may soon be moving to Peoria, Illinois, following a decision from a court to reject the New York archdiocese’s efforts to keep him in the diocese where he served the bulk of his ministry.

In the latest development in the nearly two decades-long struggle, the New York Court of Appeals sided with a lower court’s decision to grant permission to Archbishop Sheen’s niece to have his body interred at St. Mary’s Cathedral, which the diocese of Peoria views as a necessary step for his cause for canonization.

“After almost three years of litigation, the New York Archdiocese’s legal arguments have now been rejected at all three levels of the New York state court system,” said Monsignor James E. Kruse, vicar general for the Peoria Diocese said in a statement.

“Although the New York Archdiocese may technically have legal options remaining, they are contrary to the wishes of Archbishop Sheen and his family, and would serve no genuine purpose except to delay the eventual transfer of Archbishop Sheen’s remains. We call on the Archdiocese of New York to end its litigious endeavors,” he continued.

Since his death in 1979, Archbishop Sheen has been interred at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where, as one of the most popular evangelists of the 20th century, he once served as auxiliary bishop before being named as bishop of Rochester in 1966. He retired from that post in 1969 and lived in Manhattan until his death.

The tug-of-war over Archbishop Sheen’s body dates back to 2002 when the diocese of Peoria announced it would pursue his cause for canonization after the archdiocese of New York declined to do so. The cause was suspended in 2014 when Peoria’s Bishop Daniel Jenky announced that the Holy See required the body of Archbishop Sheen to be in Peoria to move the cause forward.

The archdiocese of New York has disputed that claim, maintaining that Vatican officials have indicated that the cause could move forward, irrespective of where his remains reside.

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One thought on “Illinois Diocese Wins Latest Legal Battle Over Fulton Sheen’s Body

  1. Can’t believe all this insanity. The Archdiocese of NY should be ashamed of this wacky nonsense. Really, this is the most inane stupidity I have ever come across. Good Jesus help them!