|When John Paul II visited New York he asked to meet |
Fulton Sheen. A few months later the archbishop died.
The fight over Sheen's body seems ludicrous to me. If New York isn't interested in pursuing his cause for sainthood and Peoria is, why the argument? Does New York want him at St. Patrick's for Big Apple Catholic tourist appeal? That's not even where he wanted his remains. In his will, he identified a cemetery in Queens.
In March, an appellate court in New York (following years of wrangling) agreed that Sheen's body should go to Peoria. After three years in expensive litigation, wouldn't you think that Dolan and company would finally stop the tug of war over the bishop's body? But no, the fight goes on. One wonders what Jesus, who told his followers not to sue one, another thinks about this. Sheen's nearest living relation, niece Joan Sheen Cunningham, stands with the Diocese of Peoria in the battle. LifeSiteNews recently reported on the battle quoting Cunningham:
"They've appealed every time and lost every time. I can't believe they're continuing this," she said. "We've won every time. I don't know why they just keep going. They just won’t give up.”
The Vicar General for the Peoria diocese told Church Militant that he and the diocese were “sad” that New York is continuing the expensive litigation.
"We are truly sad that New York is again delaying the case, costing money and furthering litigation for what appears to be a case that's been proven to be lost on their part," he said. "We're also sad that we have to wait for the court to offer another ruling, a fixed ruling that we are confident is again going to uphold Joan Cunningham's desire to transfer the remains of Abp. Sheen."What, one wonders, is motivating Cardinal Dolan? One of his New York predecessors, Cardinal Francis Spellman threatened to "get even" with Sheen over a dispute while Sheen headed the Society for the Propagation for the Faith. Could that episode be playing into all this? Is Spellman an anti-intercessor from the grave?
In an age where the Church is hot to trot every post Vatican II pope to canonization, is Fulton Sheen considered a troglodyte (despite being a Vatican II enthusiast) whose canonization might lead Catholics to embrace holy hours, the rosary, Marian devotion, etc.? Since money is usually at the root of most things, what is the financial benefit to the respective dioceses? Certainly a Peoria shrine would become a pilgrimage site. Trying to untangle the mystery requires the help of a Hercule Poirot.
Setting all that aside for the moment, however, one thing is certainly true. Sheen was a master teacher! Whenever I'm in a used book store I look for his work. I've given away several copies of Lift Up Your Heart which my husband and I are currently reading together. It's my second time. I once used it for a private retreat because it stimulates deep introspection. The sections on the seven deadly sins, identifying your primary fault, the chapter on black and white grace, etc. offer great sources for meditation. I think I'll take the book on my annual silent retreat this year along with Life of Christ. If you haven't read any Fulton Sheen, I encourage you to remedy that immediately. You can start with something short, The Divine Romance, at Catholic Culture. I'm betting that if you begin, you will want to read more. And here's just one of the many episodes from Life is Worth Living.