Despite ruling, court battle over remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen continues

Archdiocese of New York files another petition to keep Sheen's body from going to Peoria, sixth time in three years

Archbishop Sheen

Yet again, the New York Archdiocese is trying to stop Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s remains from being moved to Peoria.

The archdiocese has filed a second petition with the Court of Appeals, New York’s equivalent of the Illinois Supreme Court. On May 2, the Court of Appeals rejected an archdiocese argument claiming that lower courts had made constitutional errors in repeatedly giving permission to a Sheen relative to transfer his remains to Peoria, where he was ordained as a priest 100 years ago.

“This newly filed motion is the New York Archdiocese’s sixth attempt over the past three years to thwart the wishes of Archbishop Sheen’s family,” Monsignor James E. Kruse, vicar general for the Peoria Diocese, said Monday. “It is with great regret that this time-consuming and costly litigation continues, which also delays the celebration of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s beatification.”

In March, judges said that court testimony indicated Sheen would approve of any process that would aid canonization, including a relocation of remains to Peoria.

After that decision, in taking its case to the highest New York court, the archdiocese claimed that all prior court rulings had violated the First Amendment regarding free exercise of religion. In essence, the argument asserted, the courts had no standing to infringe on a church issue. The Peoria Diocese, however, argued that no religious rights were compromised; rather, the courts had been ruling on civil matters covered by civil law. The court rejected the archdiocese’s assertion, stating, “No substantial constitutional question is directly involved” — and thus there was no reason to reexamine the previous appeal.

In the latest appeal, however, the archdiocese argues that the high court does have standing to review the case, especially in the appellate ruling’s failure to recognize the state’s legal precedent holding that “the deceased” — here, Sheen — is the “prime and paramount” determiner of a final resting place.

The Peoria Diocese is still hoping to bury Sheen’s remains this year at a crypt at St. Mary’s Cathedral, 607 NE Madison Ave., the diocesan seat. Sheen was ordained at St. Mary’s on Sept. 20, 1919, and the diocese has expressed a wish that beatification could occur on or near the 100th anniversary of Sheen’s ordination.

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  1. Simon of Simony says

    This latest move by the New York Archdiocese does not nullify the strong presumption that the Late Archbishop Sheen is already in the presence of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and experiencing the “Beatific Vision.”

    No civil judicial authority can vitiate that.

    Let Cdl. Dolan continue to squander financial resources. He is very good at that.

    • Rick Shaw says

      Cardinal Dolan would rather temain cozy with outspoken pro-abortion Democrat party politicians than allow Archbishop Sheen’s cause to continue. Look at his well-publicized close relationship with New York State governor Cuomo

  2. Don’t they have anything better to do? There are hungry, homeless, etc people and they are spending money on this? If I were Pope, I would randomly select a US Diocese other than Peoria or New York, as the resting place. Then I would send the two feuding Bishops to anger management class.

  3. Anonymous says

    If the NY Archdiocese wants to keep the remains of Ven.
    Abp. Sheen– it would then only be fair, to see if his Cause for Canonization could be taken up, by Cdl. Dolan, in NY. Otherwise, his Cause cannot proceed! Not fair!

  4. I really don’t understand why this petty fight is being waged by Big Tim Dolan.

  5. Simon of Simony says

    Maybe Cdl. Dolan wants to charge an admission fee to those who want to venerate Abp. Sheen’s burial place.

  6. Iggy Ant says

    No wonder many faithful laity have lost confidence and trust of Church leaders. This situation demonstrates how prelates like Cardinal Dolan and those of his ilk TURN ON EACH OTHER.

    Dolan is demonstrating how the the first deadly sin of “hubris” deprives the faithful.

    Instead of demanding thirty pieces of silver, Dolan demands to hold the remains of Fulton Sheen.

    • Alex Farnese says

      The opposite of the first deadly sin of hubris is the first virtue —— HUMILITY! Dolan and his henchmen have somehow lost sight of this virtue.

  7. Another multiple abuse of the laity by dolan , this is not his money , he has no legal claim to the body and by his actions he is interfering with the canonization of a holy man that all , not just Catholics can look up to . I suspect that this is a deflection of the scandals that are in his archdiocese, his hubris is on display in that he cannot see that this is not helping the church and that Servant of God Sheen’s canonization would be a light in the current darkness . His time would be better spent on correcting james martin and his ilk of their heresies.

    • Anonymous says

      It was Archbishop Sheen’s request to be buried in New York ,which he was. The Diocese of Peoria is the one who cancelled the canonization process.

  8. Rick Shaw says

    While not seeing into the man’s heart, Cdl. Dolan gives every appearance of a potentiate rather than a prince of the Church. Those along with his arrogant participation in the mockery of the Church in the “Heavenly Bodies” fiasco last year at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and his close relationship with pro-infanticide politicians like Gov. Cuomo, shows insincerity and lack of judgment.

  9. Anonymous says

    Here is the problem. In 1979, Cardinal Cooke invited Ven. Sheen to be buried in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral— he either talked to both Sheen– or just his family (after Sheen’s death) about this– but this was agreed-upon, despite Ven. Sheen’s original wish (as stated in his Will) to be buried in Calvary Cemetery, the NY Archdioceses’ cemetery. However– some 20 years later — Ven. Sheen’s Cause for Canonization was opened by the Bishop of Peoria (Illinois) — Ven. Sheen’s home Diocese. It is mandatory for a candidate to be buried in the Diocese of the Bishop in charge of their Cause for Canonization.

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