Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bishop and Television Star: Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, born on May 8, 1895, was America's first famous televangelist. He did some amazing work for the Catholic Church, and indeed for humanity.

Sheen starred in a show called The Catholic Hour, which eventually acquired 4 million viewers. Later, he starred in Life is Worth Living on ABC, which aired 8pm on Tuesday nights. His show did so well that it rivaled the shows of Milton Berle and Frank Sinatra. In it, he would talk about issued related to religion, such as communism. One particularly poignant show was one in which he condemned communism. He condemned the actions of Stalin in his February, 1953 show, saying "Stalin must one day meet his judgment". A few days later Stalin fell ill, and on March 5, 1953, Stalin died. Sheen's program was so famous, it drew as many as 40 million viewers weekly.

He even won an Emmy for his program. The Archbishop accepted the Emmy by thanking his four writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Sheen was famous in Hollywood, and Martin Sheen took his name after Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, in admiration of him.

Sheen denounced the Vietnam War. He also rallied against racial discrimination, which was unusual in society those days. Sheen wrote some 90 books, and countless articles in his day. He produced television as well as audio broadcasts which you can still find on the Internet today.

Bishop Fulton J Sheen's cause for sainthood is now opened, and he is called a Servant of God, the first step towards Canonization. God willing, some day he will be officially recognized as a Saint in the Catholic Church.

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