I recently uncovered a rumor that the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen predicted the death of Joseph Stalin on his television show Life is Worth Living (not to be confused with George Carlin’s HBO special “Life is Worth Losing”). After some searching I discovered this rumor is in fact true, to a certain extent. Sheen was notoriously anti-communist – perhaps more-so even than Pope Pius XII. He used his Emmy Award-winning show as a channel to warn American Catholics about the insidious nature of Marxism and socialism as a whole. His episode on the Second Secret of Fátima seems to claim that the Mother of God predicted the rise of Stalinism and the obstinate apostasy of Russia.
Well, in February of 1953, Sheen staged a condensed television version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, substituting the names of Stalin and his Soviet minions for Caesar, Antony, Cassius, and Brutus. At the end he proclaimed in that grandiose, apocalyptic manner of his, “Stalin must one day meet his judgment!” Stalin suffered a stroke the next day and was dead within the week.
I‘m always a skeptic about things like this. And I have a dangerous over fondness for coincidences. I’d like to believe Sheen’s pronouncement was a stormy prophecy reminiscent of Ezekiel 25:17*. Maybe, maybe not. I believe in miracles. I like them, but only if they’re few and far between. I feel like St. Augustine: “Lord make me chaste and pure! But not yet.” My axiom might go something like, “Lord, intervene! But not too often.”
*And you shall know that my name is the LORD when you see my vengeance visited upon thee!