Bishop Jenky to present Sheen position book to pope May 25

The cause for beatification of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen takes another step forward on May 25 when Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, of Peoria presents Pope Benedict XVI with a thick book known as the “Positio,” or position paper.

The book, a nearly 1,200-page summary of the life and works of Archbishop Sheen — a native of the Diocese of Peoria and famed radio and television pioneer and author — will be presented to Pope Benedict at the conclusion of his weekly general audience that Wednesday at the Vatican.

The “Positio” will be then filed formally with the Congregation for Saints Causes as part of the Vatican’s process to determine whether Archbishop Sheen should be beatified and canonized.

The book was compiled by Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, postulator for the cause, from the many boxes of testimonies and research regarding Archbishop Sheen’s virtues that were sent to Rome after being sealed by Bishop Jenky during a special Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria in early 2008.

The volume to be presented to Pope Benedict will be bound in a white silk cover. Fifty additional copies will remain in Rome for review, while 100 will be printed in English for use and distribution by the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation to church officials and benefactors.

Accompanying Bishop Jenky to Rome for the presentation will be Msgr. Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Sheen Foundation and director of divine worship for the Peoria diocese.

Also present will be Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR, vice postulator for the cause; Msgr. Richard Soseman, a priest of the Diocese of Peoria who was instrumental in the research phase of the cause and who is now serving in Rome; Dr. Louis Varela, chairman of the board of the Sheen Foundation, and Maria Alicia Varela, a foundation board member.

According to Msgr. Deptula, once the Congregation for Saints’ Causes approves the “Positio” it will begin an investigation into an alleged miraculous healing granted through Archbishop Sheen’s intercession.
Should Pope Benedict declare Archbishop Sheen “venerable” — the next step in the process — the Diocese of Peoria will plan a “great celebration,” said Msgr. Deptula.

An approved miracle is required for beatification, and a second approved miracle for canonization. Two reported miraculous healings are included in the documentation sent to Rome, and other reports of healings continue to surface for investigation, according to Msgr. Deptula.

Archbishop Sheen, born in El Paso, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria in 1919. He eventually left his central Illinois roots and became known nationwide as host of pioneering radio and television programs including “The Catholic Hour” and “Life is Worth Living.”

“He was the voice of the Catholic Church in America for almost 30 years,” said Father Apostoli, adding America is in need of a saint like Archbishop Sheen. “He brought so many people closer to Christ during his life here on earth and continues to do so even today through his many writings, television, and radio shows.”

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