"I am confident that the Archdiocese of New York will cooperate fully with the request of the family of Archbishop Sheen," Monsignor James Kruse, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria, said June 14.
"On several occasions, the archdiocese has declared its desire to cooperate with the wishes of the family," he said. "I cannot imagine that the archdiocese would oppose the family's petition presented to the court. It is our hope that the archdiocese will offer their consent to this petition to expedite these matters."
According to the diocese, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has no objection to the transfer of the body. It added that the congregation has repeatedly voiced appreciation for the diocese's promotion of the beatification cause.
Joan Sheen Cunningham's petition said that if Archbishop Sheen knew he would be declared a saint, he would have wanted to be interred in Peoria's St. Mary's Cathedral. The petition noted his first Holy Communion and his priestly ordination took place at the cathedral. His parents are buried within blocks of the cathedral, and most of his living relatives still reside near Peoria.
"A shrine to Archbishop Sheen is in the process of being built next to the altar in St. Mary's where the marble crypt is to be located," the petition said.
The New York archdiocese is pleased at the apparent progress, but more steps may be necessary, said archdiocese spokesperson Joseph Zwilling.
He told CNA that the archdiocese had made its own proposal several weeks previously, after securing the advice and consent of Cunningham.
According to Zwilling, this proposal would balance Sheen's desire to be permanently buried in New York with "the understandable desire of the Diocese of Peoria to have his earthly remains present in their diocese for the celebration of his long hoped-for beatification."
Zwilling said the New York archdiocese asked the Peoria diocese to reopen the cause with the understanding that Sheen's remains would be sent to Peoria for a beatification ceremony as soon as it was announced. The archbishop's remains would then be returned to the crypt at St. Patrick's Cathedral "at an appropriate time."
"The Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome tells us all that is holding up the cause is the letter from the Bishop of Peoria reopening the cause he closed two years ago," said the archdiocese's spokesman.
He said the archdiocese will need some time to review Cunningham's legal petition, but he said it is "definitely encouraging that the Diocese of Peoria seems ready to reopen the cause."
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"Bishop Daniel Jenky and all who have done so much to advance the cause of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen are owed a great debt of gratitude for all of the work that they have accomplished thus far," he said. "If it be God's will, may we soon be celebrating the news that Archbishop Sheen will be beatified in Peoria."
Archbishop Sheen's intercession is credited with the miraculous recovery of a pronounced stillborn American baby from the Peoria area.
In June 2014, a panel of theologians that advises the Congregation for the Causes of Saints ruled that the baby's recovery was miraculous.
The baby, later named James Fulton Engstrom, was born in September 2010 showing no signs of life. As medical professionals tried to revive him, his parents prayed for his recovery through the intercession of Fulton Sheen.
Although the baby showed no pulse for an hour after his birth, his heart started beating again and he escaped serious medical problems.