BREAKING: Fulton Sheen miracle approved!

Fulton Sheen

Big news out of Peoria, IL this morning as Bishop Daniel Jenky just received word that the seven-member board of medical experts who advise the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints at the Vatican unanimously approved a reported miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

This paves the way for Sheen’s beatification, which would make him “Blessed Fulton Sheen” and leave him just one step away from official sainthood.

Hanging out with Bonnie Engstrom and her son, James Fulton, who was miraculously healed at birth.

With Bonnie Engstrom and her son, James Fulton, who was miraculously healed at birth.

The miracle in question took place in September 2010 and involved a newborn boy named James Fulton Engstrom (son of Bonnie Engstrom, friend and fellow Catholic blogger.) James emerged showing no signs of life. Medical professionals scrambled to attempt every possible life saving procedure. Bonnie, her husband, and loved ones began immediately seeking the intercession of Fulton Sheen in prayer. Then, after 61 minutes with no pulse, James was miraculously restored to life and made a full recovery. He’s now three years old and continues in good health.

Receiving approval for a miracle is typically the biggest hurdle in the beatification process. From here, the case will be reviewed by a board of theologians. With their approval the case will move on to a select number of cardinals and bishops, and then finally to Pope Francis who will, hopefully, affirm that God performed a miracle through the intercession of Fulton Sheen. There is no timeline as to when these next steps will take place but my guess is that they will happen within the year.

For more information about Fulton Sheen and the Cause for his canonization, visit

PS. For an inside look at the miracle vetting process, check out this article we posted yesterday at Strange Notions titled “Can an Atheist Scientist Believe in Miracles?” It’s written by Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, a respected atheist hematologist who was asked by the Vatican to verify a miracle attributed to the intercession of St. Marie-Marguerite d’Youville.

  • Otis Idli

    This is hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. How can anyone be so naive to believe that some praying can save a baby. Prayer works through the well-studied placebo effect. Gods work the same way any fictional character in a novel or movie works. Show is over, folks. It’s 2014 and it’s really disgusting that this supernatural snakeoil circus show is celebrated by anyone instead of the true causes of the recovery, a matter of scientific interest, and the true credit for the recovery, the hard work of the medical professionals who all studied for years to achieve their skills. Let me summarize the basic logic here, folks. The absence of a scientific explanation isn’t proof of a supernatural explanation. This is just another miracle-of-the-gaps.

    • Steve on Mare Island

      I’m surprised you don’t see the ineptness of your statement about the placebo effect. It is not the placebo effect when someone does something, and then the desired effect occurs in someone else. If the newborn child had prayed, and been affected, one could make the case for the placebo effect. So if you can make the case for a newborn being able to pray, you might have a chance to persuade some people.
      The hard work of the medical professionals in this case had proved fruitless as well. They testified they did not accomplish anything, to the best of their knowledge, to save the child. (I have this from other articles than this one.)
      Also, in the ordinary course of events, no one goes an hour without a pulse without at least suffering brain damage, which is not in evidence.
      None of these arguments proves a miracle. If a miracle is a supernatural event, by definition natural science cannot prove it. By the same definition, natural science also cannot prove that miracles do not happen. All science can do is prove in given circumstances that such-and-such is not a miracle.
      The Church is extremely skeptical of claims of miracles. You would do well to watch the movie “Song of Bernadette.” It’s not a great movie; it’s a travesty that Jennifer Jones won an Oscar for it, but it does show officials of the Church acting from a skepticism regarding Bernadette’s claims that bordered on uncharitable, even cruel.
      Anyway, the Church doesn’t require anyone to believe in a miracle. For example, belief in the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, for which there were thousands of witnesses, and accounts in the newspapers, is not in any way obligatory for faithful Catholics.
      So take cognizance of Hamlet’s admonishment to Horatio (Act I, scene 1), and be a bit better of a philosopher in the first place.

      • Otis Idli

        You misread my point about the placebo effect. Obviously the prayer didn’t affect the child in any way, not even through placebo effect, since the child wasn’t praying or capable of understanding that others were praying. It’s simply laughable and offensive to suggest that some guy prayed and saved the child. And science can actually prove miracles don’t happen by explaining the entire system of supernatural beliefs as a part of normal human cognition, which has already been done to a large extent, cf. Pascal Boyer, et al. In order words, we understand the human brain scientifically enough at this point to say with great confidence that people are very naive and believe incredibly ridiculous things like miracles. Cognitive science abounds in examples of fiction perceived as reality. Your dusty appeal to philosophy has in this case been rendered obsolete by new science.

  • Susan Schneider

    Outstanding! He was always so brilliant in his talks. They were inspiring and uplifting.

  • Balihigh

    God Bless Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

  • Joette Rogers Hoke

    I remember as a child collecting money and sending it to Bishop Sheen mission. My mother watched him on tv all of the time. I pray and ask him for a healing for me from my intestinal infections that I get continually.

  • Guy C Stevenson

    .. .

  • Janey Schmid

    So excited! It won’t be long now :-) Thank you God!…even sweeter since I am from Peoria. My family is so proud of him.

  • KingNeptune

    How do they know this was a miracle? If it is, how do they know Fulton Sheen is responsible? How is this not a case of confirmation bias?

    • Matthew Roth

      Through an extensive research process that attempts to rule out every possible natural explanation. For instance, the Medical Bureau at Lourdes responsible for miracles there does not often approve them. I believe it has been decades since one happened. I also believe that the doctors are not Catholic, at least at Rome.

    • Bonnie Engstrom

      That is a great question. (or three great questions really!)

      Officially it is NOT a miracle. Only the pope can declare it a real, true miracle. Really the headline should have said “Fulton Sheen miracle approved by medical experts” but that’s not as catchy. 😉

      There is a very long and extensive investigation that goes on before the Church declares something a miracle. Medical records and witness testimony (including testimony from experts who treated James) were assembled. Independent doctors examined James. That information was sent to Rome where more doctors studied the case. Then there were even more doctors, the ones who advise the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who looked at the case. They are looking for any possible reason for it to NOT be a miracle. No one wants to waste their time on a not real miracle.

      Additionally there is an investigation to learn who’s intercession was called upon.

      I can promise you that this is not a case of confirmation bias. Promise.

    • Rosemary Braun Wolffe

      Complete, instantaneous, no medical explanation or interference. She asked Bishop Fulton Sheen to intercede for her son.

  • Cory Heimann

    I’m starting to dance. I’m pretty sure there’s a little Fulton in my wife’s womb getting really excited.

  • bluebird2b