New York Diocese responds to Fulton Sheen beatification delay

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Diocese of Rochester is speaking out after it was revealed Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano pushed for the delay of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s beatification.

The bishop requested the delay due to the possibility that Sheen could be cited in a final report covering an ongoing New York attorney general’s investigation into the state’s bishops and dioceses. Sheen was the Rochester bishop for three years back in the 1960s.

Sheen was on track to be beatified on Dec. 21 before the Vatican postponed it.

The Diocese of Rochester gave the Diocese of Peoria and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints documentation that expressed concern about advancing the cause for the beatification of Sheen at this time without a further review of his role in priests’ assignments. Other prelates shared these concerns and expressed them, and the Diocese said a person’s cause for beatification must entail a review of their entire life.

The Diocese did note that there are no complaints against Sheen engaging in any inappropriate conduct.

The Diocese of Rochester said it “did its due diligence in this matter and believed that, while not casting suspicion, it was prudent that Archbishop Sheen’s cause receive further study and deliberation.”

Earlier this week, the Diocese of Peoria said “a few members of the Bishops’ Conference” had “requested a delay,” while also noting the local Diocese “remains confident that Archbishop Sheen’s virtuous conduct will only be further demonstrated.”

According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA) multiple senior U.S. archbishops were consulted on the matter before the final decision to delay was made by Vatican leaders.

Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky said he has confidence that any additional examination will only further prove Sheen’s worthiness of Beatification and Canonization, which would put Sheen on track to become a saint.

Bishop Matano said Sheen was Archbishop at the time a priest named Gerard Guli was appointed to the Rochester diocese church. Guli had been accused of sexual abuse. However, also according to the CNA, Sheen’s administrative decisions have been “extensively” studied, and there is reason to believe Sheen never assigned Guli to ministry; documents apparently show Sheen’s successor appointed Hogan.

Sheen was a native of El Paso and was ordained at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria in 1919. After his death, he was buried in New York. After a lengthy legal battle, his remains were brought to St. Mary’s, where he was entombed this summer.

The Diocese of Rochester said it did its due diligence in halting the beatification.

The full statement reads:

The Diocese of Rochester appreciates the many accomplishments that Archbishop Sheen achieved in his lifetime in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ worldwide through media, thereby bringing the message of Jesus to a vast audience. His legacy in the area of communications made him a prophet in the future use of mass media to advance the teachings of Jesus, a phenomenon recognized by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

At the same time, a person’s cause for beatification must entail a review of the person’s entire life. In this regard, the Diocese of Rochester has considered the tenure of Archbishop Sheen as the Bishop of Rochester. The Diocese of Rochester, prior to any announcements of the beatification, provided the Diocese of Peoria and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints through the Office of the Apostolic Nuncio with documentation that expressed concern about advancing the cause for the beatification of Archbishop Sheen at this time without a further review of his role in priests’ assignments. Other prelates shared these concerns and expressed them. There are no complaints against Archbishop Sheen engaging in any personal inappropriate conduct, nor were any insinuations made in this regard.

The Diocese of Rochester did its due diligence in this matter and believed that, while not casting suspicion, it was prudent that Archbishop Sheen’s cause receive further study and deliberation, while also acknowledging the competency of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to render its decision. The Holy See ultimately decided to postpone the beatification.

A beatification process reminds us that we are all called to be saints to live with the Lord eternally in heaven, praying that the Lord judges us worthy to behold Him face to face in that beatific vision that brings everlasting joy. From his place with the Lord, Archbishop Sheen enjoys eternal peace and joy in the everlasting presence of God, Our Father, whom he did serve with dedication and zeal for the salvation of souls.

The Diocese will be making no further comments.

Diocese of Rochester

No further date for the beatification has been set, Jenky said.

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