Fulton Sheen a saint?/Catholics at a gay wedding?
About 10 years ago, I read an article in our Catholic newspaper about the possibility of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's becoming a saint. Since then, though, I have heard nothing further. Could you tell me where that process stands now? (I think it would be great if it happened. I remember, as a child, watching his show on television. I wish there could be reruns. (Severn, Md.)
In June 2012, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was declared "venerable" by the Vatican. This means that he is considered to have been of "heroic virtue" and is worthy of imitation. The next step on the road to sainthood is beatification, which requires one miracle through that person's intercession.
The Vatican is currently reviewing an Illinois case from 2010 where an infant boy, apparently stillborn, was revived after not breathing for more than an hour when his mother prayed to Fulton Sheen.
The media-savvy Sheen won the hearts of many Americans with his television show, "Life Is Worth Living." It ran from 1952 to 1957 and, at its peak, had 10 million weekly viewers. With only a blackboard and a statue as props, Sheen spoke with drama and humor of the values that should guide faith-filled living.
In 1952, he received an Emmy as "Most Outstanding Television Personality." He also served for many years as the national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, spreading the message of the Gospel through missionary efforts across the globe.
Father Robert Barron, creator of the current award-winning television documentary "Catholicism," has called Sheen "the patron saint of media and evangelization."
My sister-in-law is gay, and she and her partner have been together for 23 years. They are planning on getting married soon and, sometime later, having a reception. Although we love them both, we do not believe in gay marriage. My husband thinks that, given our moral position, we should not attend.
I am torn: I worry that by not going, the hurt feelings may damage family relationships for a long time. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, would it be wrong for us to attend? (Greenville, S.C.)
The situation you present is, unfortunately, not uncommon today. Many faithful Catholics are wrestling with the decision that confronts you, and reasonable minds may differ as to the best solution.
The challenge of Christians always is to follow the scriptural mandates, even when to do so might be countercultural. Clearly the teaching of the church is that homosexual "marriage" is morally unacceptable.
Referencing several Biblical passages, the Catechism of the Catholic Church concludes, in No. 2357, that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to the natural law."
When faced with whether to attend a gay wedding, one is called to give public witness to one's beliefs.
In May 2013, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., advised his diocese as follows: "Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others."
Notice that the bishop's caution does not qualify as an absolute prohibition, but it would seem to me that one's presence at such a wedding ceremony might well be viewed by others in attendance as an endorsement.
Here, I think, is what you might do: You and your husband might explain to his sister -- in the most kind and gentle way possible -- that, as much as you love her, your deeply held religious beliefs make you uncomfortable with attending the ceremony.
Your absence, notable as it will be, will give witness to others of your moral stance. But since the "reception" will be held sometime later, your presence instead at that event might serve to preserve family harmony and a continuing relationship with those involved.