“We have studied extensively Sheen’s administrative decisions regarding Guli, and he never put children in harm’s way,” Kruse said.
“And in talking with Guli, assignments that some say Sheen gave him, Guli says ‘I never served there.’”
“And so this whole concept that Sheen appointed a pedophilic priest, that’s just not true,” Kruse added.
“The documents clearly show that Sheen’s successor, Bishop Hogan, appointed Guli, and it’s at that assignment that Guli offended again.”
“It’s [Bishop] Hogan who appointed Guli to the parishes in the towns of Campbell and Bradford where Guli offended, and it’s part of the reason that led to his ultimate removal and laicization, as well as other issues.”
Hogan was Sheen's successor.
In 1989, Guli was arrested for an incident of abuse involving an elderly woman. The priest was serving at Rochester’s Holy Rosary Parish at the time. He was subsequently laicized.
The Diocese of Rochester declined to respond to questions from CNA about Guli.
The Diocese of Peoria’s Dec. 3 statement said that “the life of Fulton Sheen has been thoroughly and meticulously investigated. At every stage, it has been demonstrated definitively that he was an exemplary model of Christian conduct and a model of leadership in the Church. At no time has his life of virtue ever been called into question.”
“Upon my scrutiny and extensive scrutiny of the information regarding Sheen’s administration, particularly in the case of Guli, that Sheen acted in no way to put children in harm’s way or danger, he in no way did cover-up, and I have spoken to Guli who has told me that the assignment that is being claimed was given to him by Sheen, Guli has told me he never served there,” Kruse told CNA.
“We have known about the Guli issue for quite a long time and all of that has been thoroughly examined…that all of the life and everything has been vetted, and in the end, Sheen is exonerated in things. And likewise, Rome has vetted all of that also,” he added.
Another official close to the beatification process told CNA that “the officials of the cause in Illinois looked very carefully at every part of his ministry as a bishop in New York. They did not find that he handled cases badly.”
Still, the official said, “now we will just have to wait and to see.”
In August, New York state law opened a window in the statute of limitations for vicitms of child sexual abuse to file civil or criminal complaints concerning historic offences. The one-year window was created through the Child Victims Act, which also altered New York’s statute of limitations for filing criminal claims and civil claims for survivors of child sexual abuse.
Over 400 lawsuits were filed on the first day of the window, include an allegation against a sitting bishop and a RICO suit against the Diocese of Buffalo and the Northeast Province of the Jesuits. Claims were also filed against laicized former archbishop and cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
In September, the Rochester diocese filed for bankruptcy protection, amid a flood of abuse lawsuits.
"This is a very difficult and painful decision, but after assessing all reasonable possibilities to satisfy the claims, reorganization is considered the best and fairest course of action for the victims and for the well-being of the diocese, its parishes, agencies and institutions," Bishop Matano wrote in a Sept. 12 letter.
"We believe this is the only way we can provide just compensation for all who suffered the egregious sin of sexual abuse while ensuring the continued commitment of the diocese to the mission of Christ."
The Diocese of Rochester declined Dec. 4 to answer questions from CNA, but did provide a statement.
“The decision to postpone the beatification of Archbishop Sheen was solely the decision of the Holy See. Respecting the competency of the Holy See in this matter, the Diocese will decline further comment.”
Kruse emphasized that, in his view, while the decision belong to the Holy See, it was the Diocese of Rochester that influenced it.
“I have seen the statement saying that they did,” he told CNA.
Ed. note: This story was updated at 5:00 pm MT.
Ed. note: This story initially mentioned reports claiming that Guli was laicized in 1967 and subsequently returned to ministry. Kruse clarified that was not the case, and the references have been removed.