A Knight of Malta has started a petition asking New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan to return Archbishop Fulton Sheen's body to his home diocese of Peoria, Illinois so that his cause for canonization may continue to move forward.
Last month, the New York
Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sheen's family, who requested that his
remains go to Peoria, but his body still hasn't been moved due to an
injunction the Archdiocese received as it appeals the decision. (VIEW THE PETITION HERE)
Raymond De Souza, a Catholic apologist, Knight of Malta, and pro-life
activist, started the petition on LifeSiteNews's LifePetitions
platform. He told LifeSiteNews that "the Archdiocese of New York would
have everything to gain, and absolutely nothing to lose, in helping
The Diocese of Peoria has poured a significant amount of money into promoting Sheen's cause and has expressed its "complete disappointment" at the New York archdiocese's refusal to part with Sheen's body.
The Archdiocese of New York maintains that it was Sheen's "personal
wish" to be buried permanently in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.
Sheen's will expresses this, but his relatives say if he had known he
would be canonized he would be alright with his body being moved. Even
though he grew up in Peoria, Sheen spent much of his priesthood in New
It is customary for bishops to be buried in their cathedrals, but
because of the time and money the Diocese of Peoria has given to Sheen's
cause, and the argument that he won't be canonized unless his body is
moved back to Illinois, they are determined to fight for his body.
Sheen was an Emmy Award-winning televangelist and preacher who shared
the truth of the Catholic faith with millions of people. His keen insights
on internal crises of the Catholic Church during the 20th century can
only be described as prophetic. Sheen's cause for canonization was
officially opened in 2002, and he currently is considered "venerable"
and having lived a life of "heroic virtue" by the Catholic Church.
"He was politically incorrect, he proselytized, he worked to bring
everyone to the Catholic Church, he put into practice the exhortation of
the first Pope, St Peter, who inspired the first Christians to present
good reasons for their hope (1 Pet. 3:15)," De Souza told LifeSiteNews
via email. "A canonized Fulton Sheen would be a breath of pure, fresh
air to dispel the ambiguities of the false ecumenism that [have]
infected the Church...Sheen’s teachings would help exorcise, as it were,
the atmosphere of dissent against the moral and dogmatic teachings of
the Church that are becoming commonplace today."
Sheen's charm, holiness, and sense of humor have all aided his
popularity even during the modern time, and he has a large, devoted
following within the Church.
"Fulton Sheen was a luminary in this country in the defense of the
Faith, a great pro-lifer, and naturally a model to be followed by every
Bishop and priest in America," said De Souza. "His ability to address
religious and general human issues, even heresy and lukewarmness, with
both logic and wit, was second to none."
"Cardinal Dolan is the Principal Chaplain of Order of Malta in the
United States," De Souza explained. "As a Knight of Malta myself, I
thought it would be perfectly in order to ask him to release the body of
the venerable Archbishop so that the beatification process may soon be
finished, to the joy of all faithful Catholic Americans."
De Souza said it's a "mystery" to him why the Archdiocese of New York
won't return Sheen's body to Illinois. He said the only contact he has
had with Dolan was several years ago, at his investiture as a Knight of
Malta and then at another knight's investiture.
"Cardinal Dolan’s sermon at [the second] Mass was simply excellent,"
according to De Souza. "He spoke of the icon of Our Lady of Philermo,
the Patroness of the Order of Malta, being taken by the knights into
battle against the Islamic hordes, having being sprinkle[d] with blood
in the fray. It was a truly epic description, which encourage[d] us
Knights and Dames to stand firm for the true Faith. But today, in my
opinion, he seems to have taken quite a different direction."
"How could he possibly raise obstacles to the beatification of the
great Apostle to whom Pope John Paul II said, 'You have written and
spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the
Church'?" asked De Souza. Furthermore, "Sheen is the first native son of
America to be raised to the honor of the altars," meaning his
canonization would be "an added glory to the Church in the United
"The information that has come to me about his refusal is rather
ambiguous, because it does not make sense to me to insist that Sheen’s
body should remain in St Patrick’s Cathedral, while his beatification
would benefit the whole Catholic Church," De Souza told LifeSiteNews.
"But ambiguity seems to be commonplace in the Church today,
"The beatification of a true Defender of the Faith, a true Crusader,
would be a glory for the Episcopate of the Catholic Church, in the midst
of some many scandals," said De Souza.
De Souza says the Archdiocese of New York "must acknowledge" the fact
that "the Supreme Court of the State of New York ruled on Nov. 17 in
favor of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s family request to allow the transfer
of his remains to Peoria, where he was raised and ordained a priest" and
"the ruling is key factor in allowing his Cause for Beatification to
"The Archbishop of New York must realize that he may be acting
against the good of the Church he is supposed to promote, and,
consequently, acting against the Will of God," said De Souza. "This is
my sincere opinion, and I pray that Divine Grace will touch his heart
and change his mind."
"Acquiescing" to the Sheen family's request would allow Dolan to show
his desire "to see the great Archbishop honored and also encourage
thousands of Knights and Dames of Malta, as well as Catholics in
general, of every race, tongue and culture, to become more involved in
the Defense of Our Catholic Faith, both in America and beyond," said De
"Please, Your Eminence, do not delay the beatification of the great
Defender of the Catholic Faith, who is the first native son of the
United States in the process to be canonized a saint," De Souza's petition asks.