By Sarah Mac Donald - 20 June, 2014
A panel of theologians meeting under the auspices of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints agreed this week that there is no natural explanation for a miracle attributed to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
The panel deliberated on a case involving an infant who was stillborn but whose heart started beating again an hour after his birth.
Its approval brings the beatification of the American prelate a step closer.
The miracle still requires formal approval from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
If Pope Francis authorises a decree certifying the miracle that will then fulfill all requirements for the beatification of the renowned American preacher and television evangeliser.
The miracle attributed to his intercession was considered in March by a board of physicians which found that there was no medical explanation for the child’s recovery.
Bonnie Engstrom, mother of three year old James Fulton Engstrom, said she just kept repeating over and over in her head: “Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen.”
The little boy has suffered no side effects despite the fact that his heart had stopped for so long.
Archbishop Sheen was a priest in the Diocese of Peoria, which covers central Illinois.
He gained fame through his 1950s television show ‘Life Is Worth Living’. He also spent 16 years at the helm of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
He died on 9 December 1979 in New York.
A statement from Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria on behalf of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, said: “With the recommendations of the medical experts and now the theologians, the case will next be reviewed by the cardinals and bishops,” who are members of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
“Finally, the miracle would be presented to Pope Francis, who would then officially affirm that God performed a miracle through the intercession of Fulton Sheen. There is no timeline as to when these next steps might move forward.”
If Pope Francis formally issues the decree recognising the miracle, “Sheen could then be declared ‘Blessed’ in a ceremony that could be celebrated in Peoria, Sheen’s hometown,” Bishop Jenky said.
Another miracle would be needed for Archbishop Sheen’s canonisation.