The beatification of Fulton Sheen has been postponed. Originally scheduled for Dec. 21 of this year after a protracted legal battle over his remains, the beatification has been put on hold “at the request of a few members of the Bishop’s Conference who have asked for further consideration,” according to a Dec. 3 statement from the diocese of Peoria.
“In our current climate, it is important for the faithful to know that there has never been, nor is there now, any allegation against Sheen involving the abuse of a minor,” the statement said.
Peter Jesserer Smith, a reporter for the National Catholic Register, said on Twitter:
“The Vatican will have potentially a year’s worth of lawsuits, with depositions and court findings of fact, to sift through. This is the ultimate test of Sheen’s beatification: either he’ll be stained by the abuse crisis, or the vindication of his holiness will shine like the sun.”
In July of 2019, a blog and some chatter on Twitter referenced an unsourced allegation that Sheen walked in on a priest abusing a female child, but that he merely told the priest to put his pants back on, called the victim a “slut,” and proceeded to help cover up the crime. My husband and I made a thorough assessment of the credibility the accusation and its sources. We concluded that the allegation and sources, according to all available information, were not credible. In fact, there was considerable reason to doubt that any victim had even actually made an allegation. Essentially, there was a rumor, spread by un-credible sources, that there had been an allegation; there is no evidence of a victim, and there is nothing to investigate.
The rumor also claimed that the Cause for Sheen’s canonization knew about the allegations and did not respond to them. But Monsignor Soseman, who was delegated by Bishop Jenky to oversee the Cause, told us “no such letter [as the one described in the allegations] ever arrived at the office in Peoria, nor have I ever heard of any such allegation, in any of the extensive testimonies we took.”
In its statement today, the Diocese of Peoria said:
“the life of Fulton Sheen has been thoroughly and meticulously investigated. At every state, it has been demonstrated definitively that he was an exemplary model of Christian conduct and a model of leadership in the Church. At no time has his life of virtue ever been called into question.”
In the statement, it says that the Bishop of Peoria, Bishop Daniel Jenky, was “informed by the Holy See” that the beatification would be postponed.
The Peoria statement says:
“Since a few members of the Bishop’s Conference have requested a delay, the Diocese of Peoria remains confident that Archbishop Sheen’s virtuous conduct will only be further demonstrated. Bishop Jenky has ever confidence that any additional examination will only further prove Fulton Sheen’s worthiness of Beatification and Canonization. The Diocese of Peoria has no doubt that Fulton Sheen, who brought so many souls to Jesus Christ in his lifetime, will be recognized as a model of holiness and virtue.”
The statement says: “Bishop Jenky is deeply saddened by this decision. In particular, Bishop Jenky is even more concerned for the many faithful who are devoted to Sheen and will be affected by this news.”
Read my interview with Bonnie Engstrom, the mother of the boy who returned to health after his heart stopped beating for sixty-one minutes, and his parents prayed to Fulton Sheen.
The statement continues:
[Bishop Jenky] is firmly convinced of the great holiness of the Venerable Servant of God and remains confident that Sheen will be beatified. Bishop Jenky has every intention of continuing the Cause, but no further date for Beatification has been discussed.”
The Diocese of Peoria is not offering any more information at this time.