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Pope approves miracle for late US Archbishop Sheen

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has approved a miracle bringing the late American Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, known for his revolutionary radio and TV preaching, closer to sainthood. The Vatican announced the move Saturday, which clears the way for beatification. It comes just weeks after a New York court ruling allowing Sheen's niece to bury him in Peoria, Illinois, where he was ordained, ending years of litigation and allowing the process for sainthood to resume.

Sheen, who died in 1979, was known for his on-air evangelism. He started in 1930 on NBC radio with a weekly Sunday program titled "The Catholic Hour," and expanded to television in 1950 with NBC's "Life is Worth Living," which had a weekly following of more than 30 million viewers.

No date has been given for beatification, but the Peoria Diocese said Saturday it is beginning preparations for the celebration, which would be held in Peoria. Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky said he's grateful the Vatican acted quickly after the transfer of Sheen's remains, and hopeful Pope Francis will set a date for beatification soon.

"It is truly amazing how God continues to work miracles," Jenky said. Sheen is believed to have interceded after a baby was born in 2010 and showed no signs of life. The diocese says family and friends prayed to the late Sheen to intercede, and the baby was transferred to a Peoria hospital near the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, where Sheen was ordained in 1919 and is now entombed.

The diocese says after 61 minutes without vital signs, the baby's heart began beating and the child breathed normally, and the infant is now a healthy young child. The diocese conducted a canonical investigation and submitted its findings to the Vatican in 2011.

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