New York court again rules Sheen’s remains may be transferred to Peoria

The New York court has granted Joan Sheen Cunningham the right to remove the remains of her uncle, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (pictured), from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City for transfer to St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria.

The Diocese of Peoria has reacted with “great joy” to a decision by a New York court in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham’s petition to move the remains of her uncle, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, from New York City to Peoria.

“It is the hope that this process will begin immediately,” said a diocesan press release, issued June 8 following the ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arlene Bluth that again clears the way for the remains of the famed orator and media pioneer to be removed from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and transferred to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Archbishop Sheen, a native of El Paso, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria at the cathedral in 1919, and a crypt has been prepared there for his re-interment.

“This will be the next step towards bringing Venerable Archbishop Sheen’s beatification to completion including a beatification ceremony in Peoria, Illinois,” said the press release, printed in full below.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, expressed the hope that the Archdiocese of New York — which appealed Judge Bluth’s original ruling in favor of Cunningham in late 2016 – will now cease its legal resistance.  Bishop Jenky asked all to pray “for a renewed spirit of cooperation in the effort to beatify Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen,” according to the press release.

Following is the full text of the June 8 press release from the Diocese of Peoria:

VENERABLE FULTON SHEEN CAUSE: COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF JOAN SHEEN CUNNINGHAM

PEORIA — It is with great joy that Bishop Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria, Illinois, and Promoter of the Cause for Canonization of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, announces that the Superior Court of New York has ruled in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham, niece of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Mrs. Cunningham petitioned the court to allow her to transfer the mortal remains of her beloved uncle, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, from the Cathedral of St. Patrick in New York to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria, Illinois. Earlier, the Appellate Court of New York remanded the case to the Superior Court for an evidentiary hearing and issuance of a new ruling.

This is the second time that the Superior Court of New York has ruled in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham’s petition. This evidentiary hearing sought to rule on the issue of differing testimony between key witnesses. It is truly good news that the court determined that Msgr. Franco, the witness for the Archdiocese of New York, testified completely in line with the testimony of Joan Sheen Cunningham. Therefore, both supported their understanding that above all else Archbishop Sheen would not have objected to his remains being transferred to Peoria, Illinois. Furthermore, the Archdiocese of New York could not supply any further testimony against Joan Sheen Cunningham’s petition. The court ruled that their testimony was fundamentally the same. There is no evidentiary difference in the testimony of the witnesses.

This is truly good news because it answered the concerns of the Appellate Court. Therefore, it is everyone’s hope that Cardinal Dolan as well as the New York Archdiocese will cease their legal resistance and respect the ruling of the Superior Court. Bishop Jenky hopes that the New York Archdiocese will cooperate with Joan Sheen Cunningham and the Diocese of Peoria in the practical matters as to moving the remains of Venerable Archbishop Sheen to Peoria, Illinois. It is the hope that this process will begin immediately. This will be the next step towards bringing Venerable Archbishop Sheen’s beatification to completion including a beatification ceremony in Peoria, Illinois.

Bishop Jenky encourages everyone to pray for a renewed spirit of cooperation in the effort to beatify Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. It is important to note that, among people of faith, this ruling was issued on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a feast that Venerable Sheen deeply loved.

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