American Saint delves into the case to make bishop and media star Fulton Sheen a saint, and tells the story of how a clash between two prominent religious leaders has halted that process. The film will shed light on the fascinating steps necessary to determine sainthood in the Catholic religion. Director Allison Berg will create a vivid portrait of Fulton Sheen and his impact as he spread his beliefs through the advent of television in the 1950s.
Today, Fulton Sheen is on the brink of becoming the first ever native-born American Saint. But his fate hangs in the balance as two religious leaders battle over his physical remains and his legacy. For more than three decades, he was a household name, a charismatic Catholic priest, philosopher, teacher, radio personality, Emmy award-winning television star and author of more than 60 books.
Bishop Sheen's body is interred in the crypt beneath New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, but he was originally from Peoria. The canonization process began under the authority of the Diocese of Peoria, but the current Archbishop of New York, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, has no plans to release the body to Peoria. Dolan created the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in Soho and his argument is that Sheen always intended to be buried in New York. His surviving family members believe he should remain in New York.
The two powerful church leaders, Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, have reached an impasse. Berg points out in her grant application that the disagreement extends to "...the meaning of sainthood and star power, about who can best safeguard the legacy of a beloved figure, about modernity and ancient rites, and even about small town Peoria versus New York City."
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American Saint is in pre-production.