PEORIA, Ill. (CNS) – Hopes buoyed in the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., by a Nov. 17 court ruling allowing Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s family to transfer the sainthood candidate’s remains from New York to Peoria were tempered by an emergency stay being granted to the Archdiocese of New York, which planned to appeal the ruling.
In a 10-page decision, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arlene Bluth had granted the request of Archbishop Sheen’s niece, Joan Sheen Cunningham, to have the remains of the famed orator and media pioneer removed from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and transferred to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, where a crypt is being prepared for his re-interment.
However, five days later, lawyers representing the Archdiocese of New York and the trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral – who oppose the relocation of the remains – announced their intention to appeal Bluth’s ruling. They also sought and were granted the stay.
In a statement provided to Catholic New York, newspaper of the New York Archdiocese, attorney John M. Callagy said: “We are confident that we will present substantial reasons for the appeals court to overturn the initial decision.”
In announcing her decision, Bluth wrote that “the petitioner has set forth a justifiable, good, and substantial reason for moving the remains.”
Among the reasons cited for disinterment is that the move will aid in the canonization process; that Archbishop Sheen’s parents are buried nearby in Peoria; and that St. Mary’s Cathedral is where Archbishop Sheen was ordained a priest and a place he visited often during his lifetime.
The Diocese of Peoria, which has been a promoter of Archbishop Sheen’s canonization cause for more than 14 years, expressed joy at the ruling and pledged “to begin working with the Archdiocese of New York to make this process happen as soon as possible.”
Patricia Gibson, chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria, called the decision to appeal disappointing, but expressed the hope the stay would be rejected. If that happened, she said, it is possible Archbishop Sheen’s remains may be present for Christmas Masses at St. Mary’s Cathedral.