PEORIA, Ill. (CNS) -- The
Diocese of Peoria has reacted with "great joy" to a decision by a New York
court in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham's petition to have the remains of her
uncle, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, moved from New York City to Peoria.
is the hope that this process will begin immediately," said a diocesan news
release, issued June 8 following the ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice
Arlene Bluth that again clears the way for the remains of the famed orator and
media pioneer to be removed from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York and
transferred to St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, the
archbishop's home diocese.
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky said he hoped the Archdiocese of New York -- which
appealed Bluth's original ruling in favor of Cunningham in late 2016 -- will
now "cease its legal resistance." He asked all to pray "for a renewed spirit of
cooperation" to move Archbishop Sheen's sainthood cause forward.
in the Archdiocese of New York said June 11 they "will review this decision
carefully with our attorneys and determine what next steps might be taken." The
statement also said trustees of St. Patrick's Cathedral "have an obligation to
respect the wishes of Archbishop Sheen, as clearly stated in his will and
earlier insisted upon by his niece, that he be buried in New York."
in 2016, Cunningham, who is Archbishop Sheen's oldest living relative, filed a
petition with the courts in New York asking that his body be moved
to the Peoria cathedral. She said her uncle would not have objected to his
remains being transferred to his home diocese from the crypt at St. Patrick's
Cathedral where he was entombed following his death in 1979 at age 84.
The Peoria Diocese noted "this is
the second time that the Superior Court of New York has ruled in favor of Joan
Sheen Cunningham's petition. … Earlier, the Appellate Court of New York
remanded the case to the Superior Court for an evidentiary hearing and issuance
of a new ruling."
the prelate's remains to Peoria "will be the next step toward bringing 'Venerable'
Archbishop Sheen's beatification to completion including a beatification
ceremony in Peoria, Illinois," said the diocese's news release.
York cathedral trustees' statement said they hoped "his cause is reopened
without any further delay, and pray that soon, if it be God's will, we will be
able to rejoice in his being declared a saint."
process of beatification and canonization focuses only on where the soul of a
person is, not on where an individual's mortal remains might be," it said. The
Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes has said "the cause can progress
without any transfer of the remains," according to the statement.
8, 1895, in El Paso, Illinois, Fulton John Sheen was ordained a priest of the
Diocese of Peoria at St. Mary's Cathedral in 1919. A crypt has been prepared
there for his reinterment.
a brief period of priestly ministry in Peoria, the future archbishop went on to
serve on the faculty of The Catholic University of America in Washington for
nearly 30 years.
began his broadcast career in radio in 1930. In 1952, his famous television
show "Life is Worth Living" began airing and quickly gained a large
audience with many non-Catholics becoming regular viewers. He won an Emmy for
outstanding television personality for the show.
was national director of the Propagation of the Faith from 1950 to 1966. A
former auxiliary bishop of the New York Archdiocese, he served as bishop of
Rochester, New York, from 1966 to 1969 and was given the personal title of
archbishop when he retired from that diocesan post. He is the author of dozens
of books, including his autobiography: "Treasure in Clay."
2012, 10 years after his canonization cause was officially opened, Pope
Benedict XVI announced that the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes had
recognized Archbishop Sheen's life as one of "heroic virtue," and
proclaimed him "Venerable Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen."
The first approved miracle
necessary for his beatification has cleared two of the three stages necessary
for Archbishop Sheen to be declared "blessed."
In September 2015, his cause was
suspended indefinitely, when the Archdiocese of New York denied a request from
Bishop Jenky, president of the Archbishop Sheen Foundation, to move the
archbishop's body to Peoria. In June 2016, Cunningham filed her petition on transferring his remains to the Illinois diocese.