The miraculous recovery of a stillborn baby, whose parents turned to Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen for help, has been officially approved by Pope Francis, thus paving the way for the beatification of the popular televangelist.
According to the National Catholic Register, the Vatican approved the miracle on May 14 and authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree regarding this decision. Plans can now get underway to set a date for the Archbishop’s beatification.
The popular television star and host of Life is Worth Living, a show that ran from 1951 to 1957, was declared Venerable in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI after being recognized for his heroic virtue.
However, the cause was suspended by Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria in 2014 on the grounds that the Holy See expected the Archbishop’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese rather than in the archdiocese of New York.
Apparently, Archbishop Sheen indicated that he wished to be buried in New York, but his niece and closest living relative, Joan Sheen Cunningham, later said that he would have wanted to be interred in his home diocese of Peoria, Illinois if he knew he was going to be considered for sainthood.
A years-long legal struggle ensued between the family and the Archdiocese of New York that ended in May of 2019 when the New York Court of Appeals dismissed the archdiocese’s appeal and granted the family’s wishes of having the Archbishop’s remains transferred from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City to Peoria. Once this was accomplished, the cause was permitted to continue.
During this time, a miracle was already under consideration. It occurred on September 16, 2010, when Bonnie Engstrom gave birth to a stillborn baby boy. During delivery, the baby’s umbilical cord became knotted and cut him off from essential oxygen and nutrients, resulting in his death.
The child’s parents, who live in the Peoria-area town of Goodfield, watched their little boy receive CPR and immediately turned to Archbishop Sheen for his intercession. Even though the baby showed no signs of life while the doctors worked on him, and was without vital signs for 61 minutes, the child miraculously returned to life.
“Moments before the doctor was going to declare the infant to be dead, suddenly and without any medical explanation, the infant’s heart began to beat normally and the baby breathed normally,” Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky said in a statement. “After a few weeks in the hospital, the infant was sent home and has now grown into a healthy young child.”
Eventually, seven medical experts agreed that the sudden recovery of the child, named James Fulton Engstrom, was miraculous.
A date for the beatification of Archbishop Sheen has not yet been set.
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