No end to tug of war over Archbishop Sheen's body

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (CNS)

The case involving the transfer of the remains of televangelist Archbishop Fulton Sheen from New York to Peoria, Illinois has been sent back to the original court by the New York Court of Appeals for an evidentiary hearing. Source: Catholic Herald.

Archbishop Sheen, a Peoria diocesan priest, gained fame in the 1950s with a prime-time television series called “Life Is Worth Living”. He died in New York on December 9, 1979.

The transfer of the archbishop’s remains is seen as a key factor in the continuing progress of his sainthood cause, officially opened in 2002 by the Diocese of Peoria. The causes was suspended by the diocese in September 2014.

“We are confident that the new hearing and ruling will be completed in a short time,” Msgr James Kruse, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria, said. He predicted the court will rule in favour of Joan Sheen Cunningham, Archbishop Sheen’s niece and closest surviving relative.

Ms Cunningham is seeking to have the prelate’s remains 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.

The Archdiocese of New York said in a statement it hoped the Peoria Diocese will reopen the cause for the beatification and canonisation of Archbishop Sheen. “There is no impediment to his cause progressing, as the Vatican has told us there is no requirement that the earthly body of a candidate for sainthood reside in a particular place,” it said.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arlene Bluth had granted Ms Cunningham’s request in late 2016, but the Archdiocese of New York appealed the decision. A hearing before the New York Court of Appeals took place last October.

In its 3-2 decision issued on February 6, the Court of Appeals reversed the 2016 decision and called for an evidentiary hearing solely on disputed issues regarding Archbishop Sheen’s own burial wishes.

Mgr Kruse said Ms Cunningham’s attorneys – working closely with Patricia Gibson, Peoria’s diocesan chancellor – “are very confident the new hearing will end in re-affirming the original ruling.” He pointed out that Bluth, who had already addressed the discrepancy in Ms Cunningham’s favour, will preside at the evidentiary hearing.

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Case on transfer of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s body is sent back to original court (Catholic Herald)

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