The December 3 announcement by the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, that the Vatican has decided to postpone the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen has led to a grassroots effort to have Masses said all over the world to pray his beatification will go forward.
“We decided to respond in the most positive and prayerful way possible (to) the disappointing news that the Vatican has paused the beatification of Archbishop Sheen,” Lo Anne Mayer, a New Jersey Catholic said. “The clergy who offer these Masses and the laity who attend the Masses will storm heaven for an end to this unfortunate situation.”
The beatification ceremony for Archbishop Sheen was planned for December 21 in Peoria at St Mary’s Cathedral. The Peoria Diocese announced it was informed on December 2 of the postponement.
“Millions of people knew and loved Archbishop Sheen and remember his devotion to the good Lord and to the Holy Father,” said Mayer, who is among those who knew the archbishop and greatly admire him.
“Anyone who witnessed Mass offered by Archbishop Sheen could see and feel how deeply devoted he was to the Eucharist,” she added. “What better way could we ask God’s blessing than inviting people to join us at Mass for the intention of his canonisation?”
The reason for postponement of the Sheen beatification was given in a December 5 statement from the Diocese of Rochester, New York – which then-Bishop Sheen headed from October 1966 until his retirement in October 1969, when he received the title of archbishop.
The diocese has raised concerns over the prelate’s role in priests’ assignments and took those concerns to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. As a result, Vatican officials said they want to give a further review of these records before the beatification goes forward.
“In our current climate, it is important for the faithful to know that there has never been, nor is there now, any allegation against (Archbishop) Sheen involving the abuse of a minor,” the Peoria Diocese said in its statement.
The social media platform Catholic Connect and other Catholic online media outlets began spreading the word about the effort to have Masses said for Archbishop Sheen’s cause midday on December 5 and within hours had nearly 300,000 ‘hits’ from people wanting to pledge Masses in their dioceses.
Fulton John Sheen, a native of El Paso, Illinois, was ordained on September 20, 1919, at St Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Perhaps he is best remembered for his popular television show, Life Is Worth Living.
He died in 1979 at age 84. His sainthood cause was officially opened in 2003. The Church declared his heroic virtues and he was given the title ‘Venerable’ in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.