Fulton J. Sheen was the leading American Catholic of the twentieth century. He became familiar to a generation as the radiant figure in full bishop’s robes who held the nation spellbound during the 1950s on his television show Life Is Worth Living. Sheen was the American Church’s most charismatic presence over several decades. His reputation has continued to grow since his death in 1979, and recently a movement has begun to build support for his canonization.
Now, Thomas C. Reeves gives us the first in-depth portrait of this flamboyant churchman and intellectual, a figure who confronted the world, the flesh and the devil with piety and brilliance. Reeves has uncovered important new facts about Sheen—a fake academic degree; the millions of dollars he made and gave away as American Catholicism’s first media personality; his conversion of celebrities such as Clare Booth Luce and Henry Ford II, and actress Loretta Young. Detailed here for the first time is the epic struggle between Sheen and his chief rival, Francis Cardinal Spellman, a battle of ecclesiastical titans that led all the way to the Vatican and culminated in Sheen’s final humiliation and exile from New York City.
Fulton J. Sheen may someday become a saint. In the meantime, Thomas C. Reeves has shown us the man. America’s Bishop is a fascinating biography and a brilliant social history of the Catholic Church during the American Century.