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's body was moved to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on June 27, 2019 and his cause was officially re-opened. On July 6, 2019, Pope Francis formally approved the miracle attributed to the intercession of Sheen, paving the way for Sheen to be beatified.
On Nov. 18, 2019, the Diocese of Peoria received notification from the Vatican that Pope Francis had called for the beatification ceremony to be help on Dec. 21, 2019, in Peoria. However, on Dec. 3, 2019, Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky announced that the Vatican had decided to indefinitely postpone the beatification ceremony. That decision was in response to a request submitted to the Vatican by some U.S. bishops for further investigation of Sheen's tenure as bishop of the Diocese of Rochester from 1966 to 1969.
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