The Cause for Canonization
The Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation is the official promoter of the Cause for the Canonization of Archbishop Sheen. It is the goal of the Foundation to introduce a new generation to the holy priest, missionary and communicator, Fulton J Sheen, and to move the Church to proclaim him a saint.
The purpose of the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation is to make known the life, works and thoughts of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, to bring people to Christ through Archbishop Sheen, and to advance the Cause for the Canonization of Archbishop Sheen in the Catholic Church, according to the process prescribed in the Code of Canon Law under the supervision of the bishop of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois.
The Archbishop Sheen Foundation was formed in 1998 by two men dedicated to the late Archbishop: Gregory J. Ladd of Highland, IN and Lawrence F. Hickey of New York, NY. It was the Foundation that initially approached the Archbishop of New York, the late John Cardinal O’Connor, for permission to pursue steps leading to the opening of the Cause for Canonization. Cardinal O’Connor gave his permission to begin gathering data about Archbishop Sheen that could be useful towards his possible canonization. Later, Edward Cardinal Egan, the successor to Cardinal O’Connor as Archbishop of New York, allowed the Foundation to approach the Bishop of Peoria regarding the possibility of opening Archbishop Sheen’s Cause.
The Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation functions as the “promoter of the Cause” for the Canonization of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. The first major task of the Foundation was the gathering of information about the life, virtues, and apostolic works of Archbishop Sheen. This was done primarily through contact with people who knew the Archbishop personally and so can testify as witnesses to his sanctity. The Foundation also had to oversee a critical theological review of all of the Archbishop’s writings.
Canon Law requires that for a bishop to petition that a cause be opened, he must have sufficient proof that the candidate for sainthood possesses a true and widespread reputation for two important qualities. The first is a “reputation for holiness.” This means that the People of God, especially those who knew that candidate for sainthood personally, genuinely esteemed him or her to have been a saintly person. The second is a “reputation for intercessory power.” This means that people who have prayed to God through the intercession of the candidate for sainthood have received real physical or spiritual favors as a result, such as a healing of illness, help through a personal or family crisis, a personal conversion or the conversion of a loved one, and the like. The Foundation was already able to offer some of this proof to Bishop Daniel Jenky, C.S.C., to move him to open the Cause.
In 2002, recognizing Sheen’s mid-west roots, Bishop Daniel Jenky, C.S.C, of the Diocese of Peoria, officially petitioned the Vatican to open the Cause for Sheen’s beatification and canonization. Witness and documentation to Sheen’s life and sanctity were gathered from around the world. In February 2008, 22 volumes of testimony and evidence were sent to the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints in the Vatican, concluding the diocesan phase of the beatification process. These documents join the testimony of two alleged miracles attributed to Sheen’s intercession sent to the Vatican in 2006.
The Positio (a summation of the life and works of Archbishop Fulton Sheen) was presented to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria on May 25, 2011. The Pope mentioned to Bishop Jenky that he knew Archbishop Sheen personally and worked with him during Vatican II.
The Diocesan Inquiry into an alleged miracle through the intercession of the Servant of God was completed on December 11, 2011 by Msgr. Jason Gray. The alleged miracle involved the restoration of a stillborn child, James Fulton Engstrom, after 61 minutes without heartbeat or respiration.
On June 28, 2012 Pope Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, decreeing the title of Venerable.
Sheen Body arrives in Peoria IL on June 27, 2019.
The miracle attributed to Sheen has been unanimously approved by doctors, theologians, and cardinals in the Congregation of the Causes of Saints and was officially recognized by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on July 6, 2019.
VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 1997 (VIS) – Today the Holy See Press Office made public the following note on canonical procedure for causes of beatification and canonization:
- Canon norms regarding the procedure to be followed for causes of saints are contained in the Apostolic Constitution ‘Divinus Perfectionis Magister, promulgated by John Paul II on January 25, 1983.
- To begin a cause it is necessary for at least 5 years to have passed since the death of the candidate. This is to allow greater balance and objectivity in evaluating the case and to let the emotions of the moment dissipate.
- The bishop of the diocese in which the person whose beatification is being requested is responsible for beginning the investigation. The promoter group or Actor Causae i.e. the diocese, parish, religious congregation, or association, asks the bishop through the postulator for the opening of the investigation. The bishop, once the nulla osta of the Holy See is obtained, forms a diocesan tribunal for this purpose. Witnesses are called before the tribunal to recount concrete facts on the exercise of Christian virtues considered heroic, that is, the theological virtues: faith, hope and charity, and the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, and others specific to his state in life. In addition, all documents regarding the candidate must be gathered. At this point he is entitled to the title of Servant of God.
- Once the diocesan investigation is finished, the acts and documentation are passed on to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The public copy of the Acts is assembled here for the use of the Postulator, who must reside in Rome and who follows the preparation of the Positio, or summary of the documentation that proves the heroic exercise of virtue, under the direction of a relater of the Congregation. The Positio undergoes an examination (theological) by nine theologians who give their vote. If the majority of the theologians are in favor, the cause is passed on for examination by cardinals and bishops who are members of the congregation. They hold meetings twice a month. If their judgment is favorable, the prefect of the congregation presents the results of the entire course of the cause to the Holy Father, who gives his approval and authorizes the congregation to draft the relative decree. The public reading and promulgation of the decree follows. At this point he is entitled to the title of Venerable.
- For the beatification of a confessor (i.e. a person who is not proposed as a martyr), a miracle attributed to the Servant of God, verified after his death, is necessary. The required miracle must be proven through the appropriate canonical investigation, following a procedure analogous to that for heroic virtues. This one too is concluded with the relative decree. Once the two decrees are promulgated (regarding the heroic virtues and the miracle) the Holy Father decides on beatification, which is the concession of public worship, limited to a particular sphere. With beatification the candidate receives the title of Blessed.
- For canonization another miracle is needed, attributed to the intercession of the Blessed and having occurred after his beatification. The methods for ascertainment of the affirmed miracle are the same as those followed for beatification. Canonization is understood as the concession of public worship in the Universal Church. Pontifical infallibility is involved. With canonization, the Blessed acquires the title of Saint.
Vatican Information Service.
Some Noteable Converts
Fulton Sheen’s message reached both Catholics and Non-Catholics. During his life, he brought countless people to the Catholic faith, some of whom were very well known.
- Clare Booth Luce
- Henry Ford II
- Heywood Broun
- Louis Francis Budenz
- Joe Mielziner
- Bella Dodd
- Horace Mann
- Friedrich "Fritz" Kreisler
- Virginia Mayo