Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Ill., said Vatican officials have told him that the upcoming beatification of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen has been postponed.
A news release from the Diocese of Peoria said it was informed Dec. 2 that Vatican had decided to postpone the Dec. 21 ceremony “at the request of a few members” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Details on what prompted the bishops to intervene were unknown. The diocese added, “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.”
Pope Francis Nov. 18 approved the beatification ceremony for the popular archbishop, who served as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of New York, 1951-1966 and as bishop of Rochester, 1966-1969 and was given the personal title of archbishop when he retired from that diocesan post. His television program “Life Is Worth Living,” which began airing in 1952, attracted millions of viewers nationwide.
Calling the delay “unfortunate,” the diocesan release outlined some of the activities for which Archbishop Sheen was especially known, including “his personal dedication” to a Holy Hour of daily prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and “courage in confronting the challenges in our society.”
“Since a few members of the bishops’ conference have requested a delay, the Diocese of Peoria remains confident that Archbishop Sheen’s virtuous conduct will only be further demonstrated,” the statement said. “Bishop Jenky has every confidence that any additional examinations will only further prove Fulton Sheen’s worthiness of beatification and canonization.”
The diocese said Bishop Jenky was “deeply saddened” by the Vatican’s decision.
“In particular, Bishop Jenky is even more concerned for the many faithful who are devoted to Sheen and who will be affected by this news,” the diocese said. “He 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 said it will offer no further comment “at this time.”
Fulton J. Sheen, a native of El Paso, Ill., was ordained Sept. 20, 1919, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.
He died Dec. 9, 1979, in Manhattan at age 84.
This past July, Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen, which led the way to the announcement he would be beatified.—CNS