After three years of legal battles, in 2019 the Archdiocese of New York, where Sheen was buried after his death in 1979, released Sheen’s body to the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, where Sheen was ordained and first served as a priest.
The action allowed Sheen’s cause to continue to move forward, and a date for beatification was set for Sept. 20, 2019 — the 100th anniversary of Sheen’s ordination to the priesthood.
However, Gray explained, at that time a waiver to the New York state’s statute of limitations on reporting of abuse cases was issued, allowing cases to go forward regardless of when alleged abuses occurred. Sheen, titular archbishop of Newport, Wales, was bishop of Rochester, New York, from 1966-1969.
“It really was not known at the time whether there would be new allegations of which we really knew nothing,” Gray told Arroyo, “so there was a concern that something might come forward, and so out of an abundance of caution the Holy See was hesitant [to move forward with Sheen’s cause].”
Gray said his team also received some documents that raised a question as to whether or not Sheen handled abuse cases improperly in the Diocese of Rochester. But after careful research and a presentation to the then-Congregation for the Causes of Saints, it was deemed Sheen handled them correctly. A date for beatification was then set for Dec. 22, 2019.
But then the New York attorney general’s office was investigating all the state’s dioceses, so, Gray said, “it was just considered more prudent to suspend the cause at the time.”