Fulton Sheen One Step Closer to Sainthood

Image: Fulton Sheen One Step Closer to Sainthood

Friday, 07 Mar 2014 06:56 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Archbishop Fulton Sheen is a step closer to sainthood after he was credited with the miracle of a stillborn baby coming back to life.

A seven-member panel of medical experts assembled by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints at the Vatican said there was no medical reason that the child's heart suddenly started beating in a Peoria, Ill., hospital 61 minutes after being stillborn in September 2010, according to Peoria's Journal Star.

The conclusion supported the claims by the boy's parents that James Fulton Engstrom, now 3 and named after the archbishop, had survived due to the "intercession" of Sheen, who is famous for his 1950s TV show "Life is Worth Living." Sheen died in 1979.

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"Today is a significant step in the cause for the beatification and canonization of our beloved Fulton Sheen," said Bishop Daniel Jenky. "There are many more steps ahead and more prayers are needed. But today is a good reason to rejoice."

The boy's mother, Bonnie, said that during delivery the umbilical cord had cut off oxygen supply to her baby, and although doctors worked feverishly on the child, they were unable to save him, according to the Catholic News Service.

The mother said she began to pray, and kept calling out the name of Archbishop Sheen, the former head of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

"I just kept repeating his name over and over in my head: Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen," she said. "I didn't know what else to do. They were just about to call [his death] when his heart started beating — 148 beats per minute, which is healthy for a newborn. And it never faltered."

According to the Peoria newspaper, a board of theologians will now review the case, and report to the group of cardinals and bishops who advise Pope Francis on sainthood cases.

If the pontiff calls it a miracle, Sheen would be declared "blessed" in a ceremony that could be held in Peoria. Another miracle would be needed for Sheen to be declared a saint, the newspaper reported.

Sheen was named Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y., in 1966, and in 1969, after he retired, Pope Paul VI named him Archbishop of the Titular See of Newport (Wales). In 2002 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints officially opened the cause for Sheen's canonization.

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