Fulton Sheen's Baby Miracle Backed by Vatican Sainthood Panel

Friday, 20 Jun 2014 12:12 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Archbishop Fulton Sheen is another step closer to beatification after a panel of Vatican theologians ruled that his "intercession" brought a stillborn baby back to life.

The Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, revealed this week that Bishop Daniel Jenky was informed of the decision by the seven-member theological commission that advises the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Catholic News Agency reported.

In March, a seven-member panel of medical experts had told the congregation, which counsels Pope Francis on sainthood cases, that there was no medical reason that the child's heart suddenly started beating in a Peoria hospital 61 minutes after being stillborn in September 2010.

Francis: Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

The congregation’s cardinals and bishops will now review the case, and then send their recommendations to Pope Francis. If the pontiff calls it a miracle, Sheen would be declared "blessed" in a ceremony that could be held in Peoria, according to CNA.

The conclusion by the theologians supported the claims by the boy's parents that James Fulton Engstrom, now 4 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.

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

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. Although the baby showed no pulse for an hour after his birth, his heart suddenly started beating again, and he’s since had no serious medical problems.

Sheen was a popular radio personality in the 1930s, teaching about the Catholic faith, and went on to host "Life is Worth Living" and other television shows, according to CNA.

Sheen was named bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, New York, in 1966, and in 1969, after he retired, Pope Paul VI named him archbishop of the Titular See of Newport in Wales.

In 2002, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints officially opened the case for Sheen's canonization. Another miracle, however, would be needed for Sheen to be declared a saint.

Francis: Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

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