The Battle Within The Catholic Church for the Remains of America’s First Televangelist

Bishop Fulton Sheen’s canonization has been held up as a result

A ruling this month has continued an ongoing fight over the body of Bishop Fulton Sheen. For those that do not recognize the name, you will recognize the influence of Bishop Sheen.

Sheen is America’s first televangelist. His show Life is Worth Living had 30 million viewers every week. He was on the cover of TIME magazine and won an Emmy for Most Outstanding Personality.

When he died, he had requested to be buried in a plot he purchased in Queens, New York. He ended up getting buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Then things get complicated.

An effort was made to canonize him beginning in 2002. His hometown of Peoria, Illinois, which has a museum dedicated to Bishop Sheen, stated that New York gave them permission to begin the process. They also claim that they checked with Vatican. Why check with the Vatican? Because the diocses that makes the request for canonization must have the body reside in that location.

So the diocese of Peoria would like his body. The Cardinal of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, refuses to give him up. Bishop Sheen’s niece then sued, arguing that if Bishop Sheen had known there would be an attempt to make him a saint he would have wanted his remains sent to Peoria. The court ruled in favor of the niece.

Then the New York diocese appealed the decision, stating that the last wish of Bishop Sheen was to remain in New York. They won the decision.

So now there will be another trial, to try to figure out what exactly were the wishes of Bishop Sheen. The court process that stopped the canonization process, with Peoria not continuing and New York not taking up the case. It is unclear if Bishop Sheen will even have the ability to become a saint.


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