Few have been as compelling as that of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
“His cause is one of the most interesting that we’re dealing with,” said Ambrosi. “There’s enormous interest in this cause on all levels.”
The cause advanced this summer when a report containing a
miracle was signed in late July by Church officials. The miracle allegedly took
place in 1999 and involved a 72-year-old woman in
Her husband prayed for two hours, continually invoking Sheen’s name. The woman is still alive today.
Ambrosi, postulator of the cause, has now sent the 500-page report and supporting
documents to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for review. The dossier
also contains details of another reported miracle of a gravely ill baby boy in
Father Andrew Apostoli, a
Franciscan Friar of the Renewal in
One confirmed miracle is needed for a cause to proceed towards beatification, and another miraculous event occurring after the beatification is required for canonization.
Opened in 2002, the cause of Archbishop Sheen — who was
However, although the recent developments advance his cause significantly, Ambrosi says there is still some way to go.
“The main part of the investigation into the archbishop’s life — his virtues, reputation and sanctity — have been concluded,” Ambrosi said. “We’ve interviewed half of the witnesses and now need to conclude the next phase of the investigation.”
He predicted all documentation pertaining to the cause
would be complete in 18 months, after which it will be sent to
It was in 1930 that Fulton Sheen began his pioneering evangelism through the media with a weekly Sunday night radio broadcast, The Catholic Hour. At its peak, the program attracted an audience of 4 million listeners.
In 1951, with the advent of television, he was to attract an even greater audience and bring a number of prominent public figures into the Church, including writer Heywood Broun, politician Clare Boothe Luce and automaker Henry Ford II.
Life Is Worth Living was so popular that he was competing with ratings giants like Frank Sinatra and comedian Milton Berle, prompting Berle to joke: “He uses old material, too.”
Two months before Archbishop Sheen’s death, on a papal visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II embraced him saying, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the Church.”
Msgr. Stewart Swetland, director
of homiletics and pre-theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in
“I am constantly amazed that, even with the great increases
in the sophistication of media technologies, so many still enjoy listening to
or watching his recordings from the 1950s and 1960s,” he told the Peoria
Journal Star. “Fulton Sheen is one of the shining gems of the diocese [of
The archbishop’s reputation stretches beyond the shores of
“He was well known in
Shaw said that one of his most profound acts was fulfilling a personal vow at his ordination in 1919 to spend one hour in adoration each day. “It was something he held himself to for 60 years,” he said.
Still, it may not be all smooth sailing for Archbishop’s
Sheen cause, according to historian Thomas Reeves, author of
Archbishop Sheen was appointed an auxiliary bishop in
Other issues that merit Vatican examination, Reeves
suggested, are unanswered questions of Archbishop Sheen’s handling of the money
he earned as a media celebrity and the “bogus degree” that he received from a
Said Reeves, “This will all have to be cleared up.”
As with other causes, it could be a decade or more before the
Said Ambrosi, “Were they not to have been judged authentic enough, an investigation wouldn’t have been carried out.”