VATICAN CITY, December 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — It has now been revealed that the inexplicable delaying of the beatification of beloved American Archbishop Fulton Sheen was triggered by Rochester, New York Bishop Salvatore Matano as a precautionary measure while that diocese sorts through more than 70 recently filed sex-abuse lawsuits.
Sheen served as the bishop of Rochester from 1966 until 1969.
The Vatican granted Bishop Matano’s request for a postponement of the beatification ceremony, which was scheduled for December 21, but provided no explanation to stunned American Catholics.
The initial announcement two days ago from the Diocese of Peoria, where the ceremony was to take place, likewise left much to the imagination. It said only that “The Holy See decided to postpone the date of Beatification, at the request of a few members of the Bishop’s Conference who have asked for further consideration.”
Adding to the distress caused by the surprise posteponement, shortly after the Peoria diocese issued their statement, a Catholic news outlet ran with a story alleging Sheen’s participation in a cover-up of clergy sexual abuse. The story was later corrected. And in a now-deleted tweet, one Catholic journalist went so far as to suggest that Bishop Sheen suffered from same-sex attraction.
Peoria’s Journal Star reports:
Monsignor James Kruse, a key cog in Peoria Diocese’s sainthood campaign for Sheen, decided to speak out after another report by the Catholic News Agency that Kruse said suggested Sheen did not act appropriately regarding a clergyman accused of sexual wrongdoing.
The Wednesday report — which the CNA later revised to include Kruse’s defense of Sheen — alleged that Sheen, bishop in Rochester from 1966 to 1969, allowed a priest accused of sexual abuse to head a Rochester parish. Kruse said that “months and months and months ago,” the Rochester Diocese had reported that allegation to the Peoria Diocese and the Vatican — both of which cleared Sheen after lengthy and separate investigations.
“Sheen in no way acted inappropriately,” Kruse told the Journal Star.
After Bishop Matano raised the red flag out of an abundance of caution, senior U.S. bishops reasoned it would be “imprudent” to proceed with the beatification plans until after the attorney general’s report has been released, according to CNA.
In the end, it was Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, who reportedly made the decision to delay Sheen’s beatification.
Bishop Matano’s concern centers on the case of Gerard Guli, a former priest of the Rochester Diocese who was accused of sexual misconduct in the early 1960s.
Apparently some have asserted that when the priest returned to Rochester in 1967 from his assignment in West Virginia in order to care for his ailing parents, Sheen – then the bishop of Rochester – gave him an assignment within the diocese despite the allegation.
However, “The documents clearly show that Sheen’s successor, Bishop Hogan, appointed Guli, and it’s at that assignment that Guli offended again,” Monsignor Kruse told CNA.
“The life of Fulton Sheen has been thoroughly and meticulously investigated,” said the Peoria Diocese statement announcing the postponement of Sheen’s beatification. “At every stage, it has been demonstrated definitively that he was an exemplary model of Christian conduct and a model of leadership in the Church. At no time has his life of virtue ever been called into question.”
“Archbishop Sheen was known for his personal dedication to a daily holy hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament,” continues the statement. “Drawing strength from his personal prayer life and deep devotion to Our Lord, Fulton Sheen consistently demonstrated tremendous courage in confronting the challenges in our society. He was well known for his boldness in preaching the Gospel on radio and on television in the face of our secular culture. This same spirit of courage and boldness guided him as a bishop to preach the truth, to defend the faith, and to safeguard theChurch.”
The revised date for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification has not been announced.