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A Leaven In The World… Sheen: A Needed Patron For Bishops

December 10, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

 

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Shock: While McCarrick goes unexamined by leadership and comfortably ensconced in a Kansas friary, some Catholics initially feared that unspecified prelates, in an anonymous attack upon Archbishop Sheen’s reputation, indefinitely stalled his beatification. Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky and his people are now deeply saddened.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen, credited with at least one miracle to support his beatification, is a badly needed heavenly patron for bishops today. Which makes the fact that one or more of our bishops convinced Rome to delay his planned December 21 beatification in Peoria all the more difficult to comprehend.
When we need good news about the Church, why are those in charge likely the first in this case to quash it? And why would Rome call into question its own much-lauded strict beatification vetting procedures by such action?
News reports in early December credited USCCB sources as the cause of the indefinite hold on Sheen’s cause. However, a Catholic News Agency story dated December 4 includes this information on the delay requested by Bishop Salvatore Matano of the Rochester Diocese where Sheen served as bishop:
“A source close to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State told CNA that Matano contacted the apostolic nuncio after the beatification date was set, to express concerns that Sheen could be named in a report by the attorney general, or accused of insufficiently handling allegations of abuse during his tenure as Rochester’s bishop.”
(Editor’s Note: Please see the text of that CNA article on page one of this week’s issue.)
The concern is rooted in a 1963 West Virginia case which sources in Peoria say did not involve Sheen. They state that the credibly accused priest in the case was not later reassigned in Rochester by Sheen but by another bishop.
It’s also worth recalling that the Diocese of Peoria won the civil court case over the disposition of the body and Sheen’s remains were finally moved recently to the city of his birth and priestly Ordination. But there seems to be reason to believe that the New York attorney general might time the release of his report to coincide with and thus discredit the Sheen beatification celebration. Perhaps time will reveal that prudence was needed here.
Anyone observing the disgraceful back-and-forth lawsuit between the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria over the possession of his mortal remains might be forgiven for suspecting that this delay is somehow related to that.
St. Paul warned about the scandalous consequences of Christians failing to settle their differences between themselves and instead taking one another to law before civil tribunals.
This disedifying spectacle is one more added to much more serious woes, such as the long and daily growing list of children and vulnerable individuals with wrecked lives and, in many cases, lost faith because they were disbelieved or ignored when they sought help or reported abuse.
The window of opportunity for abuse lawsuits targeting the Church was recently opened in more states and news is coming out in regard to additional victims as a result.
As to the present case, it could look like the Vatican is admitting it might have overlooked a possible cover-up of sexual abuse or other misconduct on Sheen’s part in the just announced delay of the beatification. But the Sheen committee completely discredited the accusation of an alleged cover-up on the part of Sheen that surfaced in 2007.
It’s certainly possible that new evidence could have come to light. Elimination of the role of “devil’s advocate” in the beatification process may have led to considerably less rigor in examining any possible counter-evidence to claims of personal holiness on the part of any servant of God.
Sheen, however, led a widely viewed public life with his television series, numerous books, and a very public ministry, so it would seem unlikely that something might pop up at the last minute.
Our bishops have been plagued by false accusations when it comes to clerics committing crimes. We will always need to be on guard against such calumniation. This at the same time that evidence has revealed cover-ups in other cases. Justice must be done, though the business is a messy one.
Baseless accusations must end.
Elizabeth Scalia’s blog post weaponizing the word “flouncy” in an attack on Sheen in light of the beatification delay is a denigration of the tradition and its symbols, including the episcopal cassock and ferraiolo, which Sheen wore to great effect on his TV show Life Is Worth Living. Sheen defended the faith well. He also wore episcopal regalia to great effect.
It’s of benefit when the wider culture begins to think of more than Dracula when they see a man in a cloak.
The modernist deconstructionists always go after those who represent the orthodox faith well. Those who favor orthodoxy often also favor traditional customs and attire. Sheen’s appearance is a reminder of the noble nature of our Church traditions and appealing to those who see them as a basic tool for more effective re-evangelization of a secularized and increasingly Godless and hostile society.
Priests and bishops put on the Lord Jesus as men of the Church much more powerfully and compellingly in a cassock than in a black business suit, no matter how adorned with a Roman collar around the neck. Protestants now do as much.
When it is the faith you hate you won’t get far in Catholic circles by being honest about it. Better to go after symbols of the Catholic faith. Thus the constant diatribe against those who wear the cassock, the saturno, the ferraiolo.
Those with faith or no faith, Catholic or bordering on anti-Catholic, many were exposed to the better side of Catholic faith and life through Archbishop Sheen. Many entered the Church as a result. I got to know a woman in the suburbs of D.C. who received personal instruction from Sheen in her own path to profession of the faith.
Sheen is today regularly seen by thousands through his videos on EWTN and YouTube. His legacy of evangelization lives on. He “wrote and spoke well of the Lord Jesus” as Pope St. John Paul declared upon meeting him in New York in 1979. His personal witness of a daily hour in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament has inspired generations of priests to follow his example in their own call to holiness.
Archbishop Sheen, pray for our bishops and for us.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
You can show your support by following me on Twitter @IntroiboAdAltar and catch up with me on my blog APriestLife.blogspot.com.

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