Skip to comments.Saint Fulton?
Posted on 08/30/2006 10:38:34 AM PDT by NYer
In case you're keen for my $.02, I've previously stated that Fulton Sheen stands as the greatest American Catholic of all time. In terms of impact, none other before or since comes close.
First on radio and then on television, over many Sunday and Tuesday nights, Sheen's panache, wit and humanity singlehandedly dismantled what remained of the Establishment myths of Catholic immigrants keen to establish Roman domination of the halls of power. Having captivated the popular imagination, he moved the church into the vanguard of the American mainstream. Barely three decades after Al Smith's faith kept him from the Oval Office, Sheen paved the way for another of the faithful to take it.
As you know, that hasn't happened since. And such is the state of things that, even if one came close in our own time, a Catholic presidential nominee would be eaten alive -- by Catholics.
Wait, that already happened.
The move to canonize the son of Peoria with the Louvain agrege who lived in Manhattan, served as bishop of Rochester and was assigned a titular see in Wales is quickening in its pace. Two alleged miracles have been presented to the Holy See, with all their local documentation completed.
With a nod to TV's awardfest, Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tracks the progress toward the altars of he who would become "the first saint to have won an Emmy."
A tribunal for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh spent six months gathering evidence from family members and medical personnel concerning a critically ill baby who recovered after relatives prayed to Archbishop Sheen for intervention. The documents were sent to Rome last month, where Archbishop Sheen is a candidate for beatification, the second step toward canonization or sainthood....There's a tie to the next post. One of Sheen's most prominent conversions was that of Clare Booth Luce, the playright, sometime politician and wife of the publishing magnate Henry R. Luce.
"A series of complications occurred at the time of birth, and the manner in which the complications and problems converged at one time, and the way they were relieved, were considered by many people to be extraordinary," said the Rev. Brian Welding, judicial vicar of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, who was in charge of the investigation.
Andrea Ambrosi, a canon lawyer from Rome who is the official advocate for the beatification, said at the conclusion of the hearing that all of the medical witnesses "recognized that a force superior to their medical science intervened for his recovery."...
The members of the tribunal had to interview the witnesses, transcribe the interviews and have the witnesses review the transcriptions for accuracy. In a few cases, the interviewers went to the homes of witnesses to take testimony, Father Welding said. The tribunal was required to have its own medical expert to review the testimony and give an opinion. Father Welding drafted Dr. Thomas Gillespie, a physician and Pittsburgh seminarian, whose opinion remains secret.
When all 1,000 pages had been completed, Vatican procedure required them to be closed with a wax seal of the diocese. No such seal existed, and the diocese had to have one made for the occasion. One copy of the documents will remain here.
That would make for a nice addition to his future holy card. (just kidding, Salvation :-)
Bishop Sheen was the best popular apologist for Catholicism, probably ever. His tv show regularly explained the truths of doctrine with common sense, humor and erudition rarely if ever so well mixed together. There's never been another like him.
Over the years, this city has given to the wider church religious of the highest calibre. This tradition of excellence continues to the present moment, but far too often is not recognized and celebrated at home as it should be.
One of the top tier of these many devoted souls will be buried tomorrow: Dom Francis Kline, abbot of Mepkin, the Trappist outpost in South Carolina. Abbot Kline died on Sunday at 57 after a four-year battle with leukemia.
Tomorrow's funeral at the abbey will be private as the crush of mourners would overwhelm the intimate new church there, which was built under his leadership. A public memorial service will be held in its gardens on Thursday evening.
The abbot, an alumnus of Philly's St Joe's Prep, is survived by both his parents. Following his election as abbot of Mepkin in 1990, the abbot's mother aided in making the community's habits. An accomplished organist, he studied the instrument at Julliard, leaving the world a year after his graduation to join the Trappists at Gethsemani... but not before playing the works of Bach from memory in performance at New York's Lincoln Center. Twice.
He may have left the world but, then again, he kept an active place in it. Fr Francis studied the sacraments at Sant'Anselmo, worked on several fronts to preserve the environment -- both in Mepkin's environs and beyond -- and, in a state not usually known for the clout of its Catholic monastics, his death brought tributes from Gov. Mark Sanford, who praised the abbot as "someone that just had a remarkable level of personal grace in the way he handled himself," and former Sen. Fritz Hollings, who called Kline "an inspiration" and "a saint if there ever was one."
Obits here and here, with an excerpt of Kline's treatise on "Monasticism Loose in the Church" here; a second book, written during his illness, will be published next spring.
PHOTO: Mepkin Abbey
Neither major party has nominated a Roman Catholic since 1960.
I am so grateful to EWTN for airing Bishop Sheen's old TV programs. His lectures are timeless. My dad used to speak highly of him, but until EWTN began airing his programs, I had never had the opportunity to hear him speak. He was a one-of-a-kind, just like Mother Angelica. The two of them should become the patron saints of television.
I remember the end of the Sheen years on Dumont (watched way too much of it...not by choice) - he was quite humble.
When he came back on tv in the 60's the humility seemd gone...he more or less "went show-biz" and he got even worse when his show went to color.
Actually, never noticed that Bishop Sheen was even a Catholic. He was a Christian first and foremost except when he was a teacher and then he could deal commentary on the most obscure moral positions with the best there ever were.
Wait, that already happened.
Why does Rocco think that Kerry is Catholic?
You are right in that Sheen stressed common moral/ethical precepts that could cross sectarian boundaries as "mere Christianity" or even "mere Theism". But it was difficult to ignore the fact that he was wearing the full archiepiscopal uniform, complete with cope, sash and pectoral cross, while doing so. You know - Funny, he doesn't look Lutheran.
Our family use to watch him on his show. My parents were not Catholic but we watched him anyway. He was a man of truth.
Still, people found it very easy to ignore all that ~ in India the orthodox Jain Digambara achieve the same effect sans the clothing.
It's something to do with the quality of the teaching and the believability of the teacher.
Even Jews watched his program. Then again, back in the 50s, there were only a few stations airing limited numbers of programs.
He brought about my emotional commitment in coming back home to the Church and to God. I had changed my thinking, but the last step - the belief and love - was missing. I saw his show on EWTN and it all seemed so obvious. The Archbiship is in my rosary intentions.
I am too. I remember his TV show when I was a boy and keep my ReplayTV programmed to record the EWTN rebroadcasts. You should check out http://www.keepthefaith.org for their collection of mp3 Sheen recordings. Each download is $1.00! His catechism series is excellent, it includes 50 half-hour programs.
My daughter lives in Charleston and when we go up to visit her, we always go to Mepkin Abbey, which is a truly beautiful place. Fr. Francis brought in the organ - no doubt the most magnificent organ in South Carolina! - and did a tremendous amount to keep the monastery on focus but at the same time to attract people who are not necessarily Catholic, many of whom come to see the beautiful grounds (donated in 1949 by the Luce family, of Time Magazine fame).
The day before he died, the monastery was accepted as an SC natural reserve, which means that the beautiful gardens and riverfront will receive funding from the state of SC and will be protected.
They have a wonderful annual exhibit of a collection of Nativity figures in November. In Advent they go into a pre-Christmas retreat and are "incomunicado" until after Christmas, but if you are ever in SC in November, check to see when they have their exhibit. It's beautifully curated, well done - and only lasts for a few days, so you have to know when it happens. Check their website!
And memory eternal for Fr. Francis.
I did not know that.
How can they tell?
My dog is more Catholic than Kerry (she's been blessed at the St. Francis Day doings). Heck, even my CAT is more Catholic than Kerry!
I really hope he throws his hat in the ring in 2008. Last time around was really fun. As Bugs Bunny would say, "What a maroon!"
IMO the greatest American Catholic is Christopher Columbus. I consider him to be the proto-evangelist of the New World! It all began with him!
I have seen those recently from time to time, and he's very good, isn't he? I have only very dim memories of his show from when I was a small child, and all I remember is that he frightened me - probably the dark eyebrows, his waving arms, and the "funny clothes".
I believe that the Rep. VP candidate who ran with Goldwater in 1964 was RC. Last name was Miller but I can't remember the first name. Getting old.
I too am grateful for ETWN for rerunning the good Bishop's programs. Humble or exurberant, B&W or color, I don't care, I watch them all. Sure the Bishop gets a tad flamboyant, but that is often the full fun of watching. Seriously, is Fulton Sheen's showmanship any worse than the maudlin Beg-a-thons on TBN? His cape, cross, and cassock are a cut above the shiny pretty preachers with the polyester suits, smary smiles, and three-hundred dollar haircuts. You put Bishop Sheen's words in the mouth of any of these others and the effect is just not the same. His sign-off, "God love you!" is a much-needed blessing on the dial.
My grandmother doted on Bishop Sheen, and she was Presbyterian. When my parents were courting, and my father came to pick up my mother, he'd spot the Bishop florishing that red cape and quip, "Well, there's Batman!" I am just grateful to have the chance to see him for myself.
Entertainmentearth.com said it would make a Bishop Sheen doll, or figure or whatever it is called if there was enough demand. Any takers?
I had never even heard of Bishop Sheen until a few years ago, when I flipped to EWTN late one night, just to see if it was airing anything interesting, and there was this tall, striking man in archbishop's garb, in old-fashioned black-and-white. He was THE most skillful orator I had ever heard! I was amazed! It was only the next day, after googling around on the internet, that I discovered who he was. Later, I asked my grandmother about him, only to discover that she had adored his program fifty years ago. She was surprised to find out that reruns of him were airing anywhere. I don't think she'd heard anyone even mention him in decades until I came to her and asked her "Grandma, did you ever heard of Bishop Fulton Sheen?"
Fulton Sheen had higher ratings than Milton Berle at one point and yet he is now all but forgotten. In a more just world he'd be as much a household name as Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason still are. Thank God Catholics are now able to re-discover him on EWTN, if they are willing to look.
He was powerful, brilliant, truthful, holy, and inspiring. I first saw his program several years ago and couldn't walk away from the TV for a moment.
Hard to imagine today that only 50 years ago (yes ... only), a Catholic Bishop appeared weekly on prime television and spiritually fed an American audience.
2/12/52: Bishop Fulton J. Sheen came to TV with "Life Is Worth Living," which will ran until 1957 on the DuMont network and then ABC. In early 1953, Sheen intoned that Russian leader Joseph Stalin "must one day meet his judgment," and within a week Stalin was dead.
I asked my grandmother about him, only to discover that she had adored his program fifty years ago. She was surprised to find out that reruns of him were airing anywhere.
As a child back then, it was my grandmother who insisted that we kids watch Bishop Sheen's program each week. He was the first American "televangelist". If anything, we have Mother Angelica and her EWTN network to thank for restoring Sheen's programs to the American airwaves. Both deserve sainthood!
You are correct. Sadly, his daughter is now a pro-abort radio talk show host - Stephanie Miller.
William E. Miller, from New York.
Now that you mention it, I remember that about his daughter. It is sad. I have a very clear memory of voting for the Goldwater/Miller ticket in 1964.
Good for you. Too bad Goldwater became such a degenerate later in life.
I got into the booth tempted to vote for Johnson but my arm just couldn't push a Dem lever. I haven't been tempted since. I pray that my fellow Evangelicals will be as supportive of a Catholic conservative in the future as real Catholics have supported George Bush.
This thread has more drifts than a Minnesota blizzard