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Rome, Italy, Sep 4, 2014 / 07:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the wake of the suspension of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's cause for canonization due to an ownership dispute of his remains, the office promoting his sainthood says it doesn't expect the halt to last long.
Postulator Dr. Andrea Ambrosi “has been aware of the issue regarding the transfer of Archbishop Sheen's remains, but does not believe that this will be a lasting impediment,” his office said in comments made to CNA Sept. 4.
He expects “that the suspension of the cause will be temporary, since there are many people still committed to this cause and the Beatification of Archbishop Sheen,” they explained. “At this point, however, he cannot give a timeframe as it depends upon negotiations between others.”
Dr. Ambrosi was chosen by the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation a number of years ago to serve as the postulator for the cause, and represents it before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The suspension of Archbishop Sheen’s cause was announced “with sadness” by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, President of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, in a Sept. 3 statement published on the diocese’s website.
Explaining how the Holy See “expected that the remains of Venerable Sheen would be moved to Peoria where official inspection would be made and first class relics be taken,” the statement said that the Archdiocese of New York had denied Bishop Jenky's request to move the body to Peoria.
“After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen Cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive.”
The diocese recognized explained that Bishop Jenky was “personally assured on several occasions” by the New York archdiocese that “the transfer of the body would take place at the appropriate time.”
“New York’s change of mind took place as the work on behalf of the Cause had reached a significant stage,” the statement read, explaining how Bishop Jenky has “prayed and labored” for Archbishop Sheen’s canonization for the last 12 years.
“The Bishop is heartbroken not only for his flock in Peoria but also for the many supporters of the Sheen Cause from throughout the world who have so generously supported Peoria’s efforts.”
Dr. Ambrosi's office explained that although “Issues like this between two dioceses that lead to the suspension of a cause at this point in the process are very rare,” they believe “that this matter can be resolved.”
“Negotiations on this particular issue of the transfer of the remains of Archbishop Fulton Sheen have been handled primarily between the representatives of the Diocese of Peoria and the Archdiocese of New York,” they observed.
On how the postulator has been “aware of the issue regarding the transfer of Archbishop Sheen's remains,” the office said that he “does not believe that this will be a lasting impediment, but that the suspension of the cause will be temporary.”
In 2012, retired pontiff Benedict XVI authorized a decree that recognized the heroic virtues of the beloved host of the “Catholic Hour” radio show and the ABC television show “Life is Worth Living.”
Archbishop Fulton Sheen authored many books and headed the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He served as an auxiliary bishop of New York and as Bishop of Rochester.
He continued to be a leading figure in U.S. Catholicism until his death in 1979 at the age of 84.
His cause for sainthood was opened in 2002. An authenticated miracle is now needed for Ven. Fulton Sheen to be beatified, the last step before canonization.
Despite the immense sadness on the part of Bishop Jenky and the Church in Peoria at the delay of Archbishop Sheen’s cause, the diocese affirmed that “saints are always made by God not by man.”
“Efforts for many causes have sometimes taken decades or even centuries. Bishop Jenky urges that those who support the Sheen Cause continue their prayers that God’s will be made manifest.”
Alan Holdren contributed to this report.