Why the Fulton Sheen Movement Petition?
This petition calls for the immediate rescheduling of the Mass of Beatification for Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, which has been unnecessarily delayed for three and a half years. The Diocese of Rochester requested the postponement due to concerns over an investigation by the New York Attorney General into the mishandling of clergy sexual abuse by its bishops. However, the Holy See had already conducted the most meticulous, comprehensive investigation into Sheen's tenure as Bishop of Rochester, finding no evidence of misconduct. The Church's judgment, pronounced by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, declared Sheen as worthy of the title "Venerable." The Church holds the exclusive authority to determine the character and sanctity of those investigated for canonization, and no secular authority can tarnish the Church's judgment or the glory of its saints.
The petition urges the Church to not wait for the world's approval or timing to proceed with the beatification ceremony in the Diocese of Peoria. Venerable Fulton Sheen, known for his devotion to the Eucharist, the Blessed Mother, and addressing the world's problems, is seen as a source of inspiration and guidance in these challenging times. The beatification is expected to bring immense graces and serve as a source of hope for the faithful, strengthening families and revitalizing the clergy. The petition emphasizes the need for prayerful support and active petitioning of the United States Bishops and the Holy See to establish a new date for Sheen's beatification promptly.
To the Bishops of the United States and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints:
The Church in America is suffering, can’t you feel it? The time to declare the beatification of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen is now! Jesus promised that the sheep would recognize truth in the voice of the shepherd and follow him. There is no voice so powerful, well known, and loved, no voice that is more capable of bringing clarity and healing to the confused, divided Church in America than that of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.
The final reason given to postpone the beatification Mass of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen exists no longer! We ask for the scheduling of the ceremonial Mass of Beatification to declare Venerable Fulton what he already is in the judgment of the Church: “Blessed”.
This act of beatification will unleash a tsunami of grace upon the Church, especially in the United States, creating a force of good that will spread from shore to shore, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in millions of souls, awakening a new love of Christ and His Church in America and beyond.
For the last three years, Catholics from all over the world have wondered what happened to the Beatification of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. Within just weeks of the originally scheduled Mass of Beatification on 21 December 2019, the beatification Mass for Venerable Fulton J. Sheen was “postponed” at the recommendation of Bishop Salvatore Matano of the Diocese of Rochester. To the general public, no explanation was given as to why. Even to this day, the majority of Catholics have no idea why the beatification Mass was postponed. Then the Covid pandemic turned the world upside-down, further removing the beatification of Venerable Fulton Sheen from the Church’s radar.
The only reason given for the delay to schedule the beatification of Archbishop Sheen was the awaited report from the attorney general of New York that looked into the handling of sex-abuse complaints by Catholic bishops in the state. Archbishop Fulton Sheen never came up as a person of interest or concern in that investigation. This was expected after the Holy See’s own exhaustive investigation of Archbishop Sheen’s life, priesthood and episcopal leadership for his cause for canonization — an decisive investigation which leaves no stone unturned— did not reveal anything that would cause doubt toward the cause of canonization of Archbishop Sheen.
On the contrary, the Holy See’s investigation confirmed the heroic virtues and leadership of a man, a “priest-victim,” and a prophet for our times, whom St. John Paul II called “a loyal son of the Church.” Add to these qualities the powerful words of the biographer of Venerable Fulton Sheen, Thomas C. Reeves:
In preparing America's Bishop: The Life and Times of Fulton J. Sheen (Encounter Books, 2001) I discovered a brilliant, charismatic, and holy man who has been underestimated by historians, largely overlooked by the contemporary mass media, and forgotten by too many Catholics. Indeed, I came to the conclusion that Fulton J. Sheen was the most important Catholic of twentieth century America.
It is important to note that Venerable Fulton J. Sheen is already understood by the Magisterium to be “Blessed.” It has simply not been formally proclaimed. His heroic virtue is already confirmed by his title of “Venerable.” In addition, a miracle through his intercession — required for beatification — was confirmed in 2019 by both the medical and theological commissions assigned by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Thus, Sheen’s active intercession among the Church Triumphant in heaven is confirmed.
At that point, the final part in the beatification process is the ceremonial proclaiming of Archbishop Sheen as “Blessed” within the context of a Mass of beatification. That is why the Mass of Beatification was able to be scheduled so quickly (within months) of the notification of the Holy See’s declaration that Venerable Fulton Sheen would now be bestowed the title “Blessed.”
For the last three years, the cause for Sheen’s beatification has been only inches from the finish line. It is now time to cross the finish line! The Catholic faithful, especially in the United States, are crying out for inspired leadership, clarity of Church teaching, and hope to help them persevere through these unprecedented times. Bringing to the forefront the example of leadership, wisdom and clarity of the teaching of Venerable Fulton Sheen answers that cry.
Now that nothing stands in the way of proclaiming Venerable Fulton Sheen “Blessed,” NOW is the time to do so for the salvation and good of millions of souls, for the renewal of the priesthood and for inspiring the leadership of the Church.
The Fulton Sheen Movement comes organically in the wake of the heavy canonical lifting and legal battles which the Diocese of Peoria and family of +Fulton Sheen carried on behalf of us all to get us the originally scheduled date of 21 December 2019. For all of those efforts we are all most grateful. The Diocese of Peoria moved immediately to schedule the date of the beatification Mass after the decree on 5 July 2019 from Pope Francis approving the required verified miracle through the intercession of Venerable Fulton Sheen.
After a three and a half year pause that has proven to have been unnecessary, the Fulton Sheen Movement was founded to re-light the torch to set the new date for Sheen’s beatification Mass by uniting the voices of the faithful all around the world who are clamoring for Sheen’s inspirational leadership, wisdom, clarity in teaching and prophetic insight into weathering the great storm of our times. His beatification will certainly bring about a whole torrent of graces for the Church in America and throughout the world at a time it is needed most.
The movement exists to reaffirm the faith of the people in Venerable Fulton Sheen and in the Church, both of which were called into question. First, it was through the drawn out political battle over the final resting place of Sheen’s body. Secondly, it was in the unsubstantiated doubts and suspicions cast over Sheen’s character and leadership in light of purported sexual abuse scandal that proved unrelated to Sheen's tenure as Bishop of Rochester. These dubious insinuations without evidence, especially after a meticulous investigation already conducted into Sheen's life by the Holy See, led many people to write Sheen off and further deepen the faithful’s distrust in the integrity of an already embattled Church.
We respect and thank Peoria for their roll in the ecclesial process and our hope with this movement is to rally the faithful to support Bishop Tylka and his ongoing efforts to secure a firm date in 2023 for the beatification Mass of Venerable Sheen at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria. Fulton Sheen would be the first to affirm the role of the laity in picking up the banner of the causes of saints because they are not canonized for a diocese, but for the whole Church.
Our dioceses are intensely battling what the late Pope Benedict XVI called “the dictatorship of relativism”. The catastrophic consequences of this philosophical cancer on modern culture has been the increasing confusion about the truth about God, creation and the meaning of what it means to be human.
Archbishop Sheen foresaw this danger 80 years ago and how it would ultimately bring about a broken humanity and the collapse of western civilization. He prophesied that the evangelization the Church must pursue in the future would focus on reaching man where he is wounded and by untwisting the lies that have torn men and women apart from within. Sheen's teaching and example model for the Church today how to respond to this crisis with clarity, compassion, and truth. And his approach touched the hearts and minds of millions around the world.
Sheen was a Renaissance man who did not allow himself to be cornered into one group of Catholics. His love for applying the Gospel to all facets of life was summed up in the title of his show “Life Is Worth Living”. The Church, by promoting the heroic virtues of Fulton Sheen, can loudly proclaim that message at a time when, for example, more families than ever are fracturing and young people are committing suicide in record numbers.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a deep devotion to Social Justice. He knew the human person so well and reminded the world that there could never be a true social justice without first having individual justice because every human being is sacred and made in the image and likeness of God. And are greatest responsibility lies first with those who are most vulnerable.
He was the head of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and had charge over missionary activity all over the world. His writings on social justice are an untapped wealth of teaching on how to treat every person, especially the unborn and the vulnerable, with dignity — and the ripple effect that has on families, communities, cities, states, countries and the world.
Fulton Sheen’s writings, talks and life witness are precious resources waiting to be embraced on a wider (diocesan) basis, and we petition you, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, to finish the process that was started and beatify Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
Bishop Salvatore Matano of the Diocese of Rochester said, “The purpose of the [beatification] ceremony is to provide encouragement for the faithful.”
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE CATHOLIC FAITHFUL AND THE SPIRITUAL REBUILDING OF AMERICA
Now, just three years from when those words were spoken, Catholics need encouragement more than ever. Scandal and confusion rock the Church from without and from within. Catholics are clamoring for a leader who will guide them through this great trial. The growing chorus cannot be ignored, a chorus clamoring for Venerable Fulton Sheen.
Throughout history, the canonization of saints has brought tremendous graces and unity to those nations where these saints were raised and left their primary impact. Never before has America needed someone as inspiring and brilliant as Archbishop Sheen to lead this nation back to God.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PRIESTS: "Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved."
The beatification of Archbishop Sheen provides encouragement to much more than just the Catholic faithful. His inspiring example is tremendous encouragement to all priests to whose formation and renewal he dedicated his life. Venerable Sheen foresaw the crisis in the formation of priests the Church has experienced over the last century. He was the champion of the needed revival of the priesthood according to its biblical and theological roots.
Venerable Fulton Sheen is an icon for what every priest is called to be. Fulton Sheen had a passion for souls. He had a special place in his heart for his fellow priests. Following the Second Vatican Council, Archbishop Sheen devoted much of his time trying to revitalize the priesthood by teaching priests what their seminaries were not — that they were called to be "priest-victims" for the salvation of the world. For Bishop Sheen, the Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration was at the very epicenter of the revitalization of priesthood.
Sheen considered adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament a spiritual imperative which infallibly draws the fire of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus to the adorer, enabling deeper holiness, and increasing in their soul the power to reach the hearts of the people, drawing them into conversion, conviction and holiness.
MODEL FOR THE “EUCHARISTIC REVIVAL”
At a time when the Church is calling for a “Eucharistic Revival”, what better example of illustrating what that means in one’s daily life than the priestly example, life and preaching of Venerable Fulton Sheen. For sixty years — from the day of his priestly ordination until the day of his death on 9 December 1979 — Sheen kept an unbroken promise of making a daily Holy Hour before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, to which he attributed his power to convert so many souls all over the world.
Sheen preached the necessity for the daily Holy Hour not only for priests, but also the laity in order to combat the evils of the world. As he put it in his autobiography Treasure in Clay,
You will have to fight many battles, but do not worry because in the end you will win the war before the Blessed Sacrament.
A UNIQUE GIFT TO REACH ALL AUDIENCES
The beatification of Fulton Sheen would also be a source of encouragement for non-Catholics who are looking for a safe harbor from an increasingly anti-Christian society. As they discover his intellectual genius and clarity in presenting divine truths in a language anyone can understand, they will find their home in the Catholic Church. This was the brilliance behind his success in preaching what he called “the electronic Gospel” to audience who was 60% non-Catholic. All teaching paths used by Venerable Fulton Sheen led to Our Lord Jesus Christ through His Blessed Mother.
Venerable Fulton Sheen was not afraid to boldly preach the truth about God, about man and about the world no matter who his detractors were. He was the number one voice against communism and warned that if the West did not return to God, it would be eventually be devoured by it — as we are today.
AMERICA NEEDS TO WAKE UP
Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world; the great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on, because they have lost the vision of the heights from which they have fallen.
--Venerable Fulton Sheen
Already In the 1950s, when warning the world about the threat of Communism and the role America would play in relation to it, Venerable Sheen stated “The whole world is sick.” During World War II in 1943, he foresaw the Godless world threatening us today. In two separate quotes Archbishop Sheen summarized precisely where we are at now in this particular moment in history and its root causes:
The weakening of the inner spiritual life is the basic cause of the disharmony and discord which prevail throughout the world.
Our so-called liberal civilization, which is dying, is only a transitional phase between a civilization that once was Christian and one that is anti-Christian. It has no stability of its own, being based for the most part in successive negations of the Christian philosophy of life. It will end either in a return to the Christian tradition or in revulsion against it. This alone constitutes the crisis of democracy; it will either return to its roots or die.
In short, the West has abandoned its Christian roots and has completely collapsed intellectually, spiritually and morally. The widespread reality negating or redefining the core truths of both human and divine law has led mankind into the most confusing and anti-human age in history.
Venerable Fulton Sheen was one who possessed profound insight into these problems and how to solve them. He described his mission as understanding what the world was thinking and responding to its errors with the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. Possessing one of the greatest intellects of the twentieth century, and studying the philosophies and trends of his times, the timeless wisdom of Archbishop Sheen offers easy to understand answers and solutions to the crises the world faces today.
HELPING US OVERCOME TODAY’S “DIABOLICAL DISORIENTATION”
The popes of the last two centuries have warned us about the decay of civilization that has now permeated all of the West. Their prophetic voice can be summarized by Pope Pius XI in his 1937 encyclical Divini Redemptoris, when he said the cause of our moral and spiritual decay “is to be found in a propaganda so truly diabolical that the world has perhaps never witnessed its like before.”
Archbishop Sheen is precisely the intellectual and spiritual general the Church Militant so desperately needs in these times which Servant of God, Lucia dos Santos of Fatima, described as being in a “diabolical disorientation.”
Only a few years after those words of Pope Pius XI, Venerable Sheen prophetically said:
We are living in the days of the Apocalypse — the last days of our era . . . The two great forces of the Mystical Body of Christ and the mystical body of Antichrist are beginning to draw up the battle lines for the catastrophic contest.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (later, Pope St. John Paul II) visited the United States during its bicentennial and confirmed Venerable Sheen’s words stating:
We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel . . .
Just a few years later, Sr. Lucia of Fatima described what is at the heart and at stake in this “final confrontation”:
The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.
As if he saw directly into the future and looking at the crises of our times, Venerable Fulton Sheen stated the following before a large audience in Ohio in 1972 when he received the “Catholic Man of Action” award by the Knights of Columbus:
Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and Religious. It’s up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your Religious act like Religious.
Responding to this call to action by Venerable Fulton Sheen himself, this petition comes from the heart of the laity who are crying out for heroic and bold leadership in the Church — a leadership we see in Venerable Fulton Sheen and which the Church herself has affirmed by the title “Venerable.”
As the Church has witnessed throughout her history, the beatification and canonization of her saints bring torrents of graces needed by the faithful. There is no doubt that Venerable Fulton Sheen, through his beatification, will obtain extraordinary graces needed for the revitalization of the Church today.
In this spirit, we, the undersigned, acclaim Venerable Fulton Sheen as the saint we need for our times and petition the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to green-light the ceremonial Mass of Beatification for Venerable Fulton Sheen, so that that a sick world and an embattled Church will be strengthened and invigorated by this motivating, heroic guide whose teaching and example will inspire all who discover him to live a life that is worth living.
Venerable Fulton Sheen understood and lived the solution to the crises of our times. To put it in his own words: “The only way to address our times is to BE A SAINT.”
For the sake of the millions of souls who will be greatly impacted by the wisdom and example of Archbishop Sheen, please reschedule his beatification Mass without further delay.
We, the undersigned, pledge to make holy hours and offer rosaries for this cause and for the leaders of the Church, that the Holy Spirit fill the Church with the Gift of Fortitude to always do what it is right, especially in dark times like ours. As Archbishop Sheen put it:
In this error infested world, what we really need is a Church and an authority that is right — not right when the world is right — but one that is right when the world is wrong.
We entrust this petition to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of America.
Sincerely in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Dr. Peter J. Howard, S.T.D.
Founder and President, Fulton Sheen Institute
Founder and President, Fulton Sheen Movement
“Who’s going to save our Church?
It’s not our bishops, it’s not our priests and it is not the religious.
It is up to you, the people.
You have the minds, the eyes and the ears to save the Church.
Your mission is to see that the priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and the religious act like religious.”
--Venerable Fulton Sheen