A new book about Venerable Fulton J. Sheen came out in 2014, written by Monsignor Hilary C. Franco who for many years was the Archbishop’s closest friend and collaborator. Entitled Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Mentor and Friend, many of the stories in it are familiar for those of us who have read the Archbishop’s autobiography Treasure in Clay. However, this book has some additional gems in it, particularly in the second half of the book. In an interview format, Msgr. Franco reflects on the Bishop’s crucial contributions during the Second Vatican Council, the Archbishop’s prophetic view of the woes besieging the Church and the solutions, so strongly articulated in the same vein by Pope Francis today. Msgr Franco said, “Much like Pope Francis does, he chose to come to the people.”
The way to restore all things in Christ was simple: bring Christ back into catechetics! Current books, the Archbishop said, began with community, not with Christ. He said that people are following Marx not Mark. The Church in the U.S. needed not a renewal but a re-Christification. To do this, we must preach Jesus Christ, crucified.
The Church was looking more corporate than personal, locked up in itself, “not sufficiently concerned with the problems of the world and especially the evangelization of those outside the Church.” He said, “Only a Church wounded by poverty can convert a doubting world.”
While traveling on a bus in Rome with over 70 bishops on their way to a session during the second Vatican Council, he said, “My dear Bishops, don’t you think it odd with so many bishops here on an historic and profound mission, we don’t have a place in the hotel where we can reserve the Blessed Sacrament?” He then got Msgr. Franco to arrange it. The Archbishop himself made a Holy Hour every day of his priesthood. It was a major well-spring from which he drew his strength for the mission.
The Archbishop died early into the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II to whom he wrote: “Every night when silence gives vision scope, I pray to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for the Chief Shepherd of our souls, and the only moral authority left in the world.”
To order this inspirational book, please visit newhopepublications.org or call 270-325-3061.