PEORIA -- After a lengthy court battle, New York's highest court has ordered the remains of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen to be brought to Peoria for interment.
In a Thursday decision, the New York Court of Appeals ordered the remains of the El Paso native Sheen to be brought to Peoria, where he was ordained in 1919.
Sheen's niece and closest living relative, Joan Cunningham, sued the Archdiocese of New York to bring her uncle's remains to Peoria. He was interred in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral upon his death in 1979.
Sheen was one of the first religious figures to host a regularly televised program. Sheen hosted religious shows on radio and television from the 1930s through late 1960s.
The dispute started in 2014, when the process to beatify Sheen was held up when Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria requested the archbishop's remains transferred to Peoria for the gathering of relics needed for him to be declared a saint. The Archdiocese of New York denied the request, placing Sheen's beatification process on hold while the battle over his final resting place was fought out in court.
In comments to the Catholic News Agency, Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archidiocese of New York, acknowledged the Archdiocese has now exhausted its legal options.
A statement from the Diocese of Peoria said Jenky is "overjoyed and elated" that Sheen's remains will come to Peoria. He said the diocese will work with the Archidiocese of New York to transfer the remains.
The Catholic Diocese of Peoria previously announced plans to re-inter Sheen's remains at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria.