The Archdiocese of New York has finally caved in its long-running legal tug-of-war over the remains of 1950s radio and TV preacher Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
The archdiocese, which last week lost yet another court round in the dispute with Sheen’s niece, said Sunday that it will cooperate in transferring the remains of the Emmy-winning archbishop from a crypt under the altar at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan to Peoria, Ill.
Sheen has been interred below St. Pat’s with other archbishops who served in New York since his death in 1979.
But his niece, Joan Cunningham, has been fighting to bury him back home in Peoria, where he was ordained in 1919. She says it would improve his shot at sainthood, based on Church guidelines.
The archdiocese had argued that a will Sheen signed five days before his death included his desire to be buried in New York.
A Manhattan court last year ruled against the church. On Friday, the New York Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.
“We have been informed that the New York Court of Appeals has denied further appeal of the New York Supreme Court decision upholding Joan Cunningham’s petition to disinter Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s mortal remains from under the altar at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where they have rested for nearly 40 years,” Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, told the Catholic News Agency.
“While we did not initiate this matter, the Trustees of St. Patrick’s and the Archdiocese believed that it was not simply their duty, but a solemn obligation, to seek to uphold Archbishop Sheen’s last wishes, as directed in his Will, to be buried in New York — a position held until recently by Joan Cunningham herself.”
The Catholic Diocese of Peoria said its bishop, Daniel R. Jenky, was “grateful” the archdiocese has now agreed to move Sheen’s remains.
With Post wires
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