I haven’t kept up on sainthood news from the Catholic Church, so I was surprised when I saw a headline on the front page of
The Criterion, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which read: Archbishop Sheen’s sainthood cause suspended indefinitely.
First, off, I never knew there was a sainthood cause for Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who has been dead for the past 35 years. I remember Sheen’s TV program from my childhood. Life is Worth Living.
If Sheen had not chosen a priestly life, he surely could have been an actor on the stage, performing Shakespeare. The first word I thought of when I saw a portrait of Sheen accompanying the article was the word flamboyant.
He always wore his pink hat, which signified he was a bishop, on TV and flowing robes that would twirl around him as he marched around the TV studio and moved to the chalkboard (alas, no Power Point slides for him) writing words on the board with a flourish and the unforgettable sound of chalk hitting slate.
It’s safe to say there will never be another Bishop Sheen in the U.S. First off, no one would get a network gig like Sheen had.
Millions listened to his radio shows, read his books, and watched him on TV. He didn’t invent this stuff, but there would be no Rev. Billy Graham had there not been a Bishop Sheen.
Before I read the article from the Catholic News Service, I wondered if some doubt had occurred concerning a supposed miracle attributed to Sheen. Miracles are what makes saints.
Being a good guy gets you to heaven, but you have to perform a miracle to be a saint.
And I’m not talking about when my father once told my mother, “It’ll be a miracle if Bob ever amounts to anything.” I’m talking about water-to-wine stuff.
It seems like a difficult task to prove a miracle took place. In Sheen’s case, his actions were seen as bringing a stillborn child to life, some 61 minutes after the birth.
Despite the belief the child would have severe physical or developmental problems, the boy grew and lived a normal life.
A team of medical experts convened by the Vatican reported there was no natural explanation for the boy’s survival. In the eyes of the church, that’s a miracle.
So what’s the hang-up on Sheen’s sainthood?
The Archdiocese of Peoria, Illinois, where Sheen was born, has been the champion of the sainthood cause, but decided to step away from the process apparently because the Archdiocese of New York has reneged on its original agreement to exhume
Sheen’s body from its burial place in New York City, perform tests on the remains, remove any historical artifacts inside the coffin, and send the body and artifacts back to Peoria.
Is that asking for too much?
The article reported that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the man who said no to Peoria, may take up the cause for Sheen’s sainthood.
We’ll see where this ends, but I might not be around by the time it’s all settled.
(Note to my children: Keep an eye on this story when you are my age, just for old time’s sake.)
Bob Hyle covers sports and writes a weekly column for The Harrison Press. He lives in Bright.