Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Saint Fulton?

In case you're keen for my $.02, I've previously stated that Fulton Sheen stands as the greatest American Catholic of all time. In terms of impact, none other before or since comes close.

First on radio and then on television, over many Sunday and Tuesday nights, Sheen's panache, wit and humanity singlehandedly dismantled what remained of the Establishment myths of Catholic immigrants keen to establish Roman domination of the halls of power. Having captivated the popular imagination, he moved the church into the vanguard of the American mainstream. Barely three decades after Al Smith's faith kept him from the Oval Office, Sheen paved the way for another of the faithful to take it.

As you know, that hasn't happened since. And such is the state of things that, even if one came close in our own time, a Catholic presidential nominee would be eaten alive -- by Catholics.

Wait, that already happened.

The move to canonize the son of Peoria with the Louvain agrege who lived in Manhattan, served as bishop of Rochester and was assigned a titular see in Wales is quickening in its pace. Two alleged miracles have been presented to the Holy See, with all their local documentation completed.

With a nod to TV's awardfest, Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tracks the progress toward the altars of he who would become "the first saint to have won an Emmy."
A tribunal for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh spent six months gathering evidence from family members and medical personnel concerning a critically ill baby who recovered after relatives prayed to Archbishop Sheen for intervention. The documents were sent to Rome last month, where Archbishop Sheen is a candidate for beatification, the second step toward canonization or sainthood....

"A series of complications occurred at the time of birth, and the manner in which the complications and problems converged at one time, and the way they were relieved, were considered by many people to be extraordinary," said the Rev. Brian Welding, judicial vicar of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, who was in charge of the investigation.

Andrea Ambrosi, a canon lawyer from Rome who is the official advocate for the beatification, said at the conclusion of the hearing that all of the medical witnesses "recognized that a force superior to their medical science intervened for his recovery."...

The members of the tribunal had to interview the witnesses, transcribe the interviews and have the witnesses review the transcriptions for accuracy. In a few cases, the interviewers went to the homes of witnesses to take testimony, Father Welding said. The tribunal was required to have its own medical expert to review the testimony and give an opinion. Father Welding drafted Dr. Thomas Gillespie, a physician and Pittsburgh seminarian, whose opinion remains secret.

When all 1,000 pages had been completed, Vatican procedure required them to be closed with a wax seal of the diocese. No such seal existed, and the diocese had to have one made for the occasion. One copy of the documents will remain here.
There's a tie to the next post. One of Sheen's most prominent conversions was that of Clare Booth Luce, the playright, sometime politician and wife of the publishing magnate Henry R. Luce.

In 1949, three years after Clare's reception into the church, at her urging the couple donated their southern retreat to the Cistercian Trappist community at Gethsemani. Their gift -- a former plantation -- became Mepkin Abbey. The Luces are buried in its graveyard.