Cause for Archbishop Fulton Sheen advances

.- The process of canonization for Archbishop Fulton Sheen is advancing steadily. Copies of a report on an alleged miracle that took place in 1999 through the intercession of the Archbishop were signed Sunday by Roman Catholic Church officials and will be sent to the Vatican for review, reported The Journal Star.

The 500-page report and supporting documents will be delivered to Rome by canon lawyer Fr. Andrea Ambrosi, postulator of the cause. The cause was officially begun in 2003.

Archbishop Sheen was born in the Woodford County town of El Paso in 1895 and ordained in the Diocese of Peoria in 1909. He became widely known and respected as a teacher of the faith through his television programs in the 1950s and 1960s. He died in 1979.

The alleged miracle involves a Champaign woman, then 72 years old, who was undergoing lung surgery when a tear was discovered in her main pulmonary artery. The woman's husband told investigators he prayed for his wife's recovery invoking the archbishop. The woman is still alive and in good health.

Fr. Ambrosi has reportedly worked on hundreds of sainthood causes, including Pope John XXIII's. He said it is still very early in the process to have two claims of miracles. The Church still has to investigate how holy his life was.

Fr. Andrew Apostoli, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal in New York, is vice postulator of the cause. He said he knows of at least four other claims of miraculous intercession by the archbishop.

“Fulton Sheen is one the shining gems of the diocese [of Peoria],” said Msgr. Stewart Swetland, director of homiletics and pre-theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, at the signing Sunday.

“Sheen was a pioneer in the use of social means of communication and predated (the Second Vatican Council document) Inter Mirifica and was in some ways a forerunner for the work that Karol Wojtyla [later Pope John Paul II] was able to do in the vast social communications of his pontificate.”

Msgr. Swetland said the way Archbishop Sheen delivered the truths of the faith have an impact to this day. “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 60s.”

Pope John Paul II recognized Archbishop Sheen’s contribution to evangelization through the media. Two months before his death, Pope John Paul II visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and embraced the archbishop, saying: "You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the Church.”

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