The Catholic University of America

Sheen at prayer


The Cause for Canonization

In 2002, Archbishop Sheen's Cause for Canonization as a saint was officially opened under the leadership of the Diocese of Peoria, and from then on he was referred to as a "Servant of God".

On June 28, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the  Congregation for the Causes of Saints had recognized Archbishop Sheen's life as one of "heroic virtue," and proclaimed him "Venerable Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen."

On March 6, 2014, the board of medical experts who advise the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints unanimously approved a reported miracle attributed to his intercession. Archbishop Sheen is currently a candidate to become the first native son of the United States raised to the dignity of sainthood. On June 17, 2014, the seven-member theological commission that advises the congregation unanimously agreed with the medical team's finding.

On Sept. 3, 2014, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria announced that the canonization cause of Archbishop Fulton Sheen suspended because of a dispute between the Diocese of Peoria and the Archdiocese of New York because of a legal dispute over Sheen’s mortal remains.  The dispute centered on a tension between the desire of Sheen’s closest living relative, Joan Sheen Cunningham, to have Sheen interred at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria and a statement in Sheen’s will asking for interment in a New York cemetery. This was finally resolved in June of 2019 when the New York State Court of Appeals refused to hear any further appeals in the case, definitively granting Joan Sheen Cunningham’s request.  Sheen was moved to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on June 27, 2019 and his cause was officially re-opened.

The next step in the case will be to move it to the cardinals and bishops who advise the Pope on these matters. If Archbishop Sheen's cause and the miracle attributed to him is validated by the Pope, he would then be declared "blessed." A second miracle would need to be validated before he would be declared a saint.

The Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation is the official promoter of the cause, overseeing the research, documentation, and communications necessary to advance the effort to have Archbishop Sheen named a saint of the Church.

The work of the foundation has highlighted Archbishop Sheen's personal holiness and priestly life; the evangelizing impact of his proclamation of the Gospel through preaching, teaching, writing, and his radio and television broadcasts; and his extensive work in support of Catholic missions throughout the world.

Pope John Paul II Affirms Archbishop Sheen


On October 2, 1979, two months before Archbishop Sheen’s death, Pope John Paul II held an audience at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, where he called him to come forward. Embracing the clergyman, the Pope said, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the Church.”

Nine days later, the Pope sent a letter to Sheen congratulating him on the occasion of his 60th anniversary as a priest. He wrote, "God called you to proclaim in an extraordinary way his dynamic word. ... in these six decades of your priestly service, God has touched the lives of millions of the men and women of our time."

On November 26, 1979, just two weeks before his death, Archbishop Sheen replied to the Pope's letter: "I bow in humble gratitude for the Pontifical approval of my ministry of the Word."

Archbishop Sheen died on December 9, 1979.

> Read the full text of both letters


block quoteWhen first ordained and a student at the Catholic University in Washington, I would never go to class without climbing the few stairs to the chapel in Caldwell Hall to make a tiny act of love to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament."

Fulton J. Sheen
Treasures in Clay, 1955

The Sheen Positio


The Catholic University of America has a copy of the Positio super Virtutibus that was presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on behalf of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. The positio is a collection of documents used in the process by which a person is declared Venerable, the second of the four steps on the path to Roman Catholic sainthood.

Read more about the Sheen positio and the path to sainthood

More about Sheen's Cause

Petition from Sheen's family could prompt resumption of his cause

Catholic News Agency reports that the stalled beatification cause of Archbishop Sheen could soon resume, thanks to a petition by his family members weighing in on where he should be buried.

Rochester Diocesan Paper Reports
On Progress of Sheen's Cause

The Catholic Courier interviewed Bonnie Engstrom, mother of the stillborn baby whose full recovery has been attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen.

Blog Post by Mother of Miracle Baby

The mother of the baby whose recovery after being stillborn has been approved as an authentic miracle by two Vatican advisory committees, tells her story.

Alumni Magazine Article on Saints' Causes

The Catholic University of America Magazine features an article about four priest alumni who are actively being considered for sainthood.

Experts Approve Sheen Miracle

The canonization cause for Archbishop Sheen advanced on March 6, 2014, when the board of medical experts who advise the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints at the Vatican unanimously approved a reported miracle attributed to his intercession.

Official Site of Cause Promoter

The Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation is the official promoter of the Cause for the Canonization of Archbishop Sheen.

Updates from Sheen Foundation Blog

Follow the progress of the canonization cause and the activities of its promoters and friends.

Sheen Foundation Facebook Page

Lots of quotes from Sheen, comments from supporters of his cause, and news from the foundation.

Canonization Novena

The Pontifical Mission Societies of the Diocese of Arlington posted a Novena for the Canonization of Venerable Fulton Sheen on its website.