Illinois tribunal begins review of Sheen sainthood bid

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2003

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) A 20-member tribunal has been sworn in to begin the years-long process of researching the life of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a native of tiny El Paso who became a celebrity priest.

The panel will ultimately make a recommendation to the Vatican on whether Sheen should be elevated to sainthood.

Sheen, who died in 1979, was best known for his weekly TV program ''Life is Worth Living,'' which aired for five years in the 1950s.

But Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky said Sheen should be remembered more for his lifelong efforts to bring people to Christ than for sometimes beating comedian Milton Berle in the ratings.

Jenky, a member of the diocesan panel that will make a recommendation to the Vatican, said Sheen pioneered all sorts of evangelistic techniques, as well as being a ''riveting speaker.''

Along with ensuring Sheen's life and works did not violate church doctrine, the tribunal, sworn in Monday, needs to link prayers to Sheen with a miracle, as required under Vatican rules. The tribunal has already received many such reports.

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