The statement came one day after CNA's first reported Dec. 4 that Bishop Salvatore Matano of Rochester had asked the apostolic nuncio to the United States to delay the beatification, citing concerns about an ongoing state attorney general’s investigation into the dioceses of New York state.
Sources told CNA that Matano was especially concerned that the attorney general could time the release of an announcement concerning Sheen to coincide with the beatification, potentially marring the celebration with allegations of scandal.
The Dec. 5 Rochester statement said the diocese had requested a delay “prior to any announcements of the beatification.”
The diocese said it had “provided the Diocese of Peoria and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints through the Office of the Apostolic Nuncio with documentation that expressed concern about advancing the cause for the beatification of Archbishop Sheen at this time without a further review of his role in priests’ assignments.”
Msgr. James Kruse, an official in the Diocese of Peoria involved in advancing Sheen’s cause, told CNA that while the Rochester diocese had raised those concerns before the beatification date was set, it also raised them again in recent weeks. Two other officials connected to the beatification cause confirmed Kruse's statement.
Kruse said the Rochester press release did not acknowledge that fact.
The priest told CNA that Matano sent a letter to the apostolic nuncio Nov. 19, after the beatification was announced, saying that he could not support the scheduled beatification and requesting that it be delayed.
“They did not agree with the fact the beatification date was set and announced, and asked that further consideration be done,” Kruse told CNA Dec. 4.
CNA requested a copy of the Nov. 19 letter from the Diocese of Rochester. The diocese told CNA Dec. 5 that “it is not appropriate to release a letter addressed to the Apostolic Nuncio.”
Kruse told CNA Dec. 4 that the issue in question is the case of Gerard Guli, a former Rochester priest.
“Guli is the issue,” he told CNA.
The priest was ordained in 1956, and from 1963 to 1967 served in parishes in West Virginia. According to a document issued by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, in 1963 the Diocese of Rochester received an allegation that in 1960 Guli committed abuse or misconduct against adults, not minors.
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Kruse told CNA that the priest “returned from Wheeling to help his sick parents” in 1967.
Sheen became Rochester’s bishop in October 1966.
Some have claimed that Sheen gave Guli an assignment in the Diocese of Rochester, despite the 1963 allegation against him, Kruse said, and that Bishop Matano was concerned the NY attorney general would identify this issue in any report or announcement.
But Kruse said that Sheen never assigned Guli to ministry.
“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.’”