PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Peoria has ended its nine-year campaign to win sainthood for a central Illinois priest who was considered one of the country’s first televangelists, though diocese officials say they still hope to see him canonized.
Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky suspended the local campaign this month to see the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen made a saint, Monsignor Stanley Deptula told the Journal Star newspaper in Peoria.
Jenky said in a statement that he dropped the campaign "with great sadness and disappointment," but hoped the Archdiocese of New York, where Sheen is buried, would take up the cause.
"We’re very positive this is going to get resolved," said Deptula, who is also director of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation. "It’s a matter of negotiations; a matter of discernment."
Sheen was born in 1895 in El Paso, a small town about 30 miles east of Peoria, and grew up in a farm family. He died in 1979.
Sheen had a popular television show, "Life is Worth Living," on ABC in the 1950s before serving as bishop in Rochester, N.Y., and later in Newport, Wales.
If the church agrees to his sainthood, he would be the first U.S.-born bishop to be a saint.
Deptula noted that, during a recent trip to Rome, church officials were considering sainthood for people who lived as long ago as the 1500s.
"The church has a long view of history," he said. "The church sees no rush in this."
Whether he’s declared a saint or not, Deptula added, Sheen remains a figure worth celebrating and remembering.
"He was still a great priest. He was a local hero," Deptula said.