Today the Vatican announced that Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen has been recognized as Pope Benedict as Venerable! This an exciting development because it brings him one step closer to canonization. For those unfamiliar with the Archbishop, he was a man of incredible spiritual influence and sanctity. He is said to have alone converted over 52,000 people(!!!!) by means of his radio program, television show, many books and his witness.
As you may remember, the Archbishop received the title of Servant of God when the cause for his canonization was opened in 2001. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints reviewed the over 2500 pages worth of testimony and historical information submitted and passed their findings to Pope Benedict. Happily, today the Pope officially acknowledged the Archbishop demonstrated “heroic virtue” during his life, bestowing on him the title of Venerable!
What happens now?
The next step in the process is beatification. Soon the Congregation will examine the miracle proposed to have occurred through Venerable Sheen’s intercession. If (and hopefully when!) the miracle is verified as authentic, the Pope will be able to give the Archbishop the title of Blessed. Finally, another miracle is required at which point the Pope would be able to officially name the Archbishop a Saint.
There is great reason to hope this process will happen relatively fast since Pope Benedict worked with the Archbishop during the Second Vatican Council in the 1960. So impressed by the Archbishop’s holiness even then, and recognizing Venerable Sheen’s sanctity continued the rest of his life, Pope Benedict requested that the Congregation put his cause on the “fast track”!
The proposed miracle
The next step on this “fast track” is for the Congregation to examine the proposed miracle. The miracle is this: A baby boy in Peoria, Illinois (the Archbishop’s home diocese) was delivered stillborn, with the umbilical cord around his neck. He was delivered at home and examined there by a nurse, who found no signs of life. He was declared a “triple zero”: no brain waves, no heart beat, no breathing. The paramedics examined him and found no signs of life. In the infant emergency room of the hospital, they again found no signs of life. In the main emergency room, they again found no signs of life. With doctors about to declare the child dead, he took his first breath! Though he went 61 minutes without any signs of life, he is in perfect health today, with zero medical problems! The entire time his mother had been praying to the Archbishop. A miracle indeed!
God willing, the Archbishop’s cause will indeed move fast as we here in America are in terrible need of his intercession. Venerable Sheen’s beatification will enable him to touch more lives as more Americans get to know him and fall in love with him.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, pray for us!
*The information in this article comes from Father Andrew Apostoli, vice postulator for the cause of the Archbishop*