The canonization process was revised in 1983 by Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister. These guidelines laid out how petitions should be made to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, and how the investigation should proceed from that point until the results are presented to the Holy Father, who, alone, makes the decision to elevate an individual to sainthood.
Below is an outline of the process, with the dates that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen reached each milestone:
- An Inquiry is opened by a bishop in response to a petition from the faithful. At this point, the individual is granted the title, "Servant of God" (Sep 12, 2002)
- The results of the inquiry are compiled as a Positio Super Vertutibus which is presented to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints. If it is accepted by the congregation, it is passed on to the Pope who declares the Servant of God as Venerable (June 28, 2012)
- A seven-member board of physicians convoked by the Congregation for Saints' Causes investigated the miracle of survival of a child delivered stillborn. The board agreed there was no natural explanation for why the boy's heart started beating 61 minutes after his birth (March 2014)
- If a miracle is approved by the Pope, the Venerable is Beatified, receiving the title of Blessed.
- If a second miracle is approved, the Beatified can be Canonized and approved for public veneration as a saint.
6. Cauze for Sheen's beatification and canonization has been suspended due to denial to move the body to Peoria by the Archdiocese of New York (September 3, 2014). For more information and updates please refer to the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation