A saint for our times: This man would be a relevant, revolutionary choice

National Catholic Reporter

June 20, 2020

By Kathleen Sprows Cummings

The Catholic Church may soon name another American saint. In late May, Pope Francis, affirming the verdict of medical and theological experts, credited the Connecticut priest Michael McGivney for the 2015 healing of a pregnant woman. This paves the way for his beatification, tentatively slated for next fall. McGivney, who died in 1890, is best known for founding the Knights of Columbus, the fraternal organization that has sponsored McGivney’s cause.

In a dramatic turn, it is now Sheen’s stint as Rochester’s bishop that has stalled his cause for canonization, perhaps permanently. After the body question was settled by protracted legal proceedings (he’s back in his home town after all), Sheen’s beatification was scheduled for last December. Preparations for an elaborate celebration in Peoria were in place when the Vatican abruptly cancelled the event, reportedly because of concerns that Sheen’s name might surface in a state attorney general’s investigation into clerical sexual abuse in New York.

Whether or not there are specific allegations that Sheen covered up abuse is unknown and largely beside the point. Allowing Sheen’s cause to languish would be a tacit admission of a horrific truth many Catholics are just beginning to grasp. Levels of complicity surely vary, but no man who has held high office in the Catholic church over the last half century should be presumed to be blameless in this ongoing crisis. None of them are the models of heroic virtue we need today.

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