Archbishop_Fulton_Sheen_who_died_in_1979_and_whose_cause_for_beatification_is_open_CNAThe Catholic blogosphere has erupted in furor over news of the Archdiocese of New York’s refusal to allow Venerable Fulton Sheen’s remains to be moved to Peoria at this time for official inspection. Numerous petitions and letter-writing campaigns have emerged urging Catholics to voice their displeasure over this decision, some even going so far as to accuse the Archdiocese of New York of intentionally stalling the process because of jealousy over the Diocese of Peoria’s promotion of the holy man’s canonization.

I can understand where all these emotionally charged reactions are coming from. As a man whose writings were instrumental in my own rediscovery of my faith and continued growth in holiness, I was shocked and disappointed to hear this news. Then again, I’m also part of a generation accustomed to instant gratification and very poorly acquainted with patience.

However, as the Diocese of Peoria stated in the initial press release announcing the delay, that saints are “always made by God not by man.” Furthermore, “Efforts for many causes have sometimes taken decades or even centuries.” Although Bishop Daniel Jenky, the actor of Fulton Sheen’s cause for canonization has said that he is “heartbroken” over the delay, he has not resorted to the type of mudslinging that has appeared in many comboxes and personal blogs of Catholics.

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We should also bear in mind that Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, the postulator of the cause, doesn’t think that New York’s decision to not release Sheen’s remains at this time “will be a lasting impediment.”

Perhaps this is this delay is the result of some infighting between the two dioceses. Maybe there is some petty, petulant character behind this whole issue who believes that his or her actions might somehow prevent this holy man from being officially recognized as a Saint. If so, he, she or they will be held responsible for their sins. But, ultimately, as the prayer for Venerable Fulton Sheen’s canonization says, “If it be according to Your Will, for the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the salvation of souls, we ask You to move the Church to proclaim him a saint.”

We can neither force nor prevent the canonization of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. This mystery is already known to God and all those holy souls who share in the Beatific Vision. This matter is up to God and it is up to Him to reveal this knowledge to His Church through the practices performed by the Church.

As Donald Prudlo wrote in a piece for Crisis Magazine, “Cults should be allowed to spread organically, and sometimes be permitted to die out of their own accord, with careful shepherding by Church authorities.” This is why, he points out, the Church used to have a 50 year waiting period in place – to ensure devotion to a holy man or woman was genuine and to allow enough time for the process to take place.

Of course we must continue to pray for the Church to be moved to make this proclamation officially, if it be God’s will, but we must also refrain from public detraction of anyone involved with the process. How could one claim to be fighting for the recognition of a saint while at the same time engaging in gossip and detraction of Church hierarchy and other public figures? Isn’t devotion to a saint meant to help us become more Christ like in our everyday lives?

Who knows? Perhaps this bump in the road is just the impetus needed to generate more prayers and devotion to this holy man before he is canonized.

 UPDATE:

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The Archdiocese of New York has released a statement saying that the decision is based on instruction from the Vatican a decade ago not to move Fulton Sheen’s body to Peoria. New York says it has yet to receive any further instructions from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.