By Howard Packowitz
PEORIA – A New York court ruling may lead to a new resting place in Central Illinois for El Paso native, the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
The dispute turned into a legal battle pitting the Peoria Diocese against the New York Archdiocese, which wants to keep Sheen’s remains at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The Superior Court in New York has ruled for a second time in favor of Sheen’s niece, Joan Sheen Cunningham, who claims her uncle would not have objected that his remains be transfered to Peoria’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.
An appeals court ordered the most recent hearing in which a clergy member’s testimony about Sheen’s wishes became the focus.
A news release from the Peoria Diocese issued late Friday said the Monseigneur’s statements did not contradict testimony from Sheen’s niece.
“The court ruled that their testimony was fundamentally the same. There is no evidentiary difference in the testimony of the witnesses, the news release said.
The Peoria Diocese urged New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan to end the legal dispute and allow the transfer of Sheen’s remains. Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky is leading the campaign to elevate Sheen to sainthoood.
“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,” the Peoria Diocese said.
Sheen, born in El Paso in 1885, became famous as a preacher on television and radio. He died in 1979.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org