Time for a pop quiz. You have ten seconds. Name a Roman Catholic cleric besides the pope. Give up? Probably 95% of American non-Catholics would not be able to answer that question. But back in the 1950s and 60s, the majority of Americans knew the name of Fulton J. Sheen. The Catholic archbishop had two television shows, Life is Worth Living (1952-1957) on the DuMont Network and the syndicated The Fulton J. Sheen Program (1961-1968). On both shows, the foppishly-attired Sheen grinningly gave out “advice for living” as he propagated the Roman church’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. He actually won two Emmy awards for Most Outstanding Television Personality.
In the late 1950s, Sheen became entangled in a feud with his boss, cardinal Francis Spellman of New York City. The cardinal bided his time and in 1966 appointed (aka demoted) Sheen to the bishopric of humble Rochester, New York, where I write from. Sheen resigned in 1969 and died ten years later. The RCC fast-tracks famous Catholics for “sainthood” in an attempt to leverage their celebrity. The effort to canonize Sheen began immediately after his death, but was sidetracked by some Catholic internecine squabbling. Both the dioceses of New York City and Peoria, Illinois (under the sponsorship of Sheen’s niece), Sheen’s birthplace, claimed the future saint’s cadaver and the legal tug-of-war dragged on in the courts for five years (2014-2019). Sheen’s remains were eventually awarded to Peoria and canonization appeared imminent. But the Rochester diocese was simultaneously embroiled in its own legal tug-of-war with the survivors of priest sexual abuse and diocesan cover-up. Some of the legal research seemed to implicate former-bishop Sheen in the cover-up. What did Sheen know and when did he know it? In December 2019, Rochester bishop, Salvatore Matano, sent a message to the Vatican advising them to put the brakes on Sheen’s canonization pending clarification of his role in the alleged cover-up/s. It wouldn’t be good public relations for a canonized saint to be subsequently outed as an abuse enabler.
It’s been almost two years and Catholic officials in Peoria are still waiting impatiently for Sheen’s canonization to be given the green light (see article below). Around 300 people per week make the pilgrimage to Peoria to visit Sheen’s crypt seeking his intercession (photo above) and that number would skyrocket if Sheen were declared a saint.
What’s a Christian to make of this? The Bible declares that everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone is a saint (Greek: hágios, “set apart”). Nowhere in the Bible do we find the Catholic notion of saints being super-holy people. This heterodox notion of super-sanctified people attaining Heaven by their merits is part and parcel of the Catholic salvation system of sacramental grace and merit. Neither in the Bible do we find the Catholic notion of praying to saints as intercessory mediators. That’s an anti-Biblical, blasphemous concept. The RCC’s cavalcade of patron saints is an unabashed plagiarism of pagan Rome’s pantheon of patron gods. See here.
Sheen may or may not be implicated in abuse cover-up. However, two years of silence is a long time, especially given that Sheen’s canonization is certainly at the top of the USCCB’s wish list. But the fact is that hundreds of American Catholic bishops systematically transferred predatory priests from parish to parish, knowingly endangering Catholic children. It was deemed that children were an acceptable sacrifice in maintaining the reputation of the church.
Postscript: Ecumenist Billy Graham was a friend and outspoken admirer of false-gospel promulgator, Fulton J. Sheen.