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St John Southworth an ‘inspiration and intercessor’ for Westminster’s priests

June 26, 2018 CNA Daily News 2

London, England, Jun 27, 2018 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster reflected on St John Southworth, a martyr of 17th century England, in a pastoral letter on the priesthood Sunday, and challenged the laity readily to support priests.

“Today I ask you to pray for all our priests,” he said in his June 24 pastoral letter. “Our lives may not be as dramatic nor as full of public conflict as the life of St John Southworth. Yet we priests strive to express in our daily ministry exactly the same dedication to the mission of Jesus Our Lord as he did.”

“Like him, we depend on the support and love of faithful people. For St John Southworth that was literally a matter of life and death.”

The letter was read at Mass June 24, about a week before the archdiocese will ordain six new priests. The cardinal focused on the courageous priestly ministry of St. John Southworth, a Lancashire priest whose feast day is June 27.

Saint John Southworth was ordained a priest in 1619 at Douai, an English college based in what is now France during a time when Catholicism was illegal in England. After he graduated, he started his ministry in Lancashire.

Here, the priest was first arrested and jailed in London. In 1630, he was deported to France but returned to attend to those sickened by the plaque. The priests was then arrested in 1637 and continued his ministry in and out of jail until his execution in 1654.

During his trial, St. John Southworth refused to hide that he was a priest and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in Tyburn.

Cardinal Nichols said that while England no longer experiences this level of persecution, priests still need support from parishioners.

“Over the centuries a marvellous tradition has remained of genuine love for priests and a readiness to support them, through thick and thin. I ask you, today, to continue that tradition and share it with your families.”

Cardinal Nichols also apologized for the weakness of priests and his own sins. He asked for patience and forgiveness, stating the whole Church is compelled to support each other in Christ.

“Of course, we priests and bishops are sinners. There is no hiding our mistakes and faults,” he said. “Today I express my sorrow at our failings and I ask for your patience, forbearance and, indeed, forgiveness.”

“In the Church, we are bound together in Christ Jesus. He is full of mercy. We can only strive to show that mercy to each other, always and everywhere.”

Saint John Southworth’s body is interred at Westminster Cathedral, and his relics will be moved to the center of the church for his feast day.
“We bring his body into the central aisle of the cathedral not only for his feast day but so that he is there among the candidates for the priesthood on the day of their ordination,” the cardinal wrote.

“During the singing of the Litany of the Saints, they will prostrate themselves, face down on the floor. In their midst will be the prostrate body of the Martyr. But he lies face up, reflecting the glory of God shining in him as he now enjoys the fullness of God’s grace in heaven. He is indeed our special patron.”

This year also marks the 450th anniversary of the establishment of Douai College, which he called “a crucial part of Catholic survival and heritage,” noting that Pope Francis has set aside June 28, 2019, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as a day for priestly renewal. Cardinal Nichols also invited all diocesan priest in England and Wales to say a Mass commemorating the anniversary at Westminster Cathedral.


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Religious superior recommended restoration of faculties for St. John Cantius founder

June 26, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Chicago, Ill., Jun 26, 2018 / 02:15 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The religious superior of Fr. C. Frank Phillips, former pastor of St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago, recommended last month that Chicago’s archbishop permit the priest to return to public ministry, CNA has learned.

In a May 21 communique to Cupich obtained by CNA, the priest’s superior recommended that Fr. Phillips “should not return to the parish as its pastor,” but supported the possibility that Phillips might exercise priestly ministry in some other setting.

Phillips, 68, has been accused of misconduct involving adult men. He was removed as pastor of St. John Cantius March 16, and prohibited from public ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago by Cardinal Blase Cupich.

Since then, Fr. Scott Thelander, SJC, has served as parish administrator ad interim.

Fr. Phillips, who is canonically a member of the Congregation of the Resurrection, had served at St. John Cantius parish since 1988.

In 1998, Phillips founded the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, with the approval of Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and Resurrectionists.

The Archdiocese of Chicago forwarded unspecified allegations to the Resurrectionists in March.

The allegations were investigated by an independent review board organized by the Resurrectionists, and by provincial leaders. The results of that investigation were forwarded to the Archdiocese of Chicago by Fr. Gene Szarek, superior of the USA province of the Resurrectionists, along with his own proposal for a resolution.

Szarek sent on May 21 a “votum”- an official opinion- to the Archdiocese of Chicago, in response to the findings of the review board. CNA has obtained a copy of that votum, which did not specify the nature of the allegations made against Phillips.

Citing “a certain amount of ambiguity between the allegations of the accusers and the testimony of witnesses, including Fr. Phillips himself,” Szarek said he would instruct Fr. Phillips to undergo a psychological evaluation, “and possible sensitivity training in the very near future.”

Fr. Szarek said further that Fr. Phillips should not return to St. John Cantius Parish as its pastor, considering both his age “and out of respect for the Cardinal’s own preference.”

The superior also wrote that it “seems fair and just to restore the canonical faculties of Fr. Phillips” because “no civil or ecclesiastical crime had been established.”

He noted that Fr. Phillips’ accusers “thought that his removal from the parish was all that they desired.”

Fr. Szarek also wrote that since Fr. Phillips is founder of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, “the ideal would be his restoration as their superior general.”

The Canons Regular are incardinated in the Chicago archdiocese, and their assignments are made by the Archbishop of Chicago, Fr. Szarek noted, so “there is no fear that Fr. Phillips could possibly interfere in some way” with the archbishop’s decisions.

“The historical reality of his being the Founder and his ongoing provision of spiritual leadership would be salutary for all,” Fr. Szarek stated, adding that Fr. Phillips “would obviously not reside” at St. John Cantius Parish.

“If the above recommendation is unfeasible, then at least he and the Canons should not be prevented from communication.” A prohibition on communication between Phillips and the Canons Regular had not previously been reported.

Despite Fr. Szarek’s proposal, Cardinal Cupich declined to allow Fr. Phillips to minister publicly. Ordinarily, a priest prohibited from public ministry is able to celebrate Mass only in private, and not able to hear confessions or celebrate other sacraments, unless a person is in immediate danger of death.

“We accept the Archdiocese’s decision that Fr. Phillips’ faculties for public ministry will remain withdrawn and that he not return as pastor of St John Cantius and as Superior of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius,” Fr. Szarek wrote in a June 24 letter to the parishioners of St. John Cantius parish.

Paula Waters, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune June 25 that though Fr. Phillips had not been found to have violated civil or canon law, there was other information that justified barring him from exercising public ministry.

“There are standards for behavior,” Waters told the Tribune.

Stating that the review board recommended that Fr. Phillips not return to St. John Cantius as pastor “and on other factors, the cardinal decided that his faculties to minister would remain withdrawn,” she said.

When asked about the removal of Fr. Phillips’ faculties, a Chicago archdiocese spokeswoman told CNA June 26 only that “it was recommended that Fr. Phillips not return to ministry at St. John Cantius” in the Resurrectionists’ investigation report.

In his letter informing the St. John Cantius community of Cardinal Cupich’s decision, Fr. Szarek wrote: “While we know this news will disappoint some of Fr. Phillips’ supporters, we hope everyone will come to understand that this process was conducted with prayerful deliberation and sincere compassion.”

Protect our Priests, a group formed to support and assist Fr. Phillips had issued a statement June 20 saying that Fr. Phillips had been “exonerated”, saying the review board “concluded that Fr. Phillips has not violated any secular criminal, civil or canon law.”

Protect our Priests stated that the review board, consisting of three leaders from the Chicago area who are not members of St. John Cantius parish, interviewed “the detractors and several witnesses, persons who personally know the accusers, and other individuals who came forward to testify in defense of Father Phillips’ integrity.”

The group added that Cardinal Cupich had directed that members of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius not be interviewed by the board.

The group stated June 20 that “We … remain confident that in this process, justice and truth will prevail over the mendacity, falsehoods, spitefulness and malevolent connivance from which this unpleasant episode originates; and that the accusers, who recklessly have besmirched their own reputations in this matter, will too choose to make themselves ‘free’, by each of them individually presenting an unconditional retraction.”

St. John Cantius parish was founded in 1892 by the Congregation of the Resurrection, according to the church’s website, and each of its pastors has been a member of that congregation.



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Pope Francis, Emmanuel Macron talk immigration in first meeting

June 26, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Jun 26, 2018 / 01:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The heated debate over immigration in Europe was a central topic of discussion in a meeting between Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Vatican Tuesday.

The June 26 meeting marked the first time the two had met since Macron’s election in May 2017.

During the 57-minute conversation, which took place in the Vatican’s apostolic palace and was described as “warm” and “friendly,” Francis and Macron spoke on a variety of topics.

Europe’s ongoing migrant crisis was a key part of the discussion. Macron has made headlines in recent days by vocally opposing the Italy’s new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, who has turned away refugee boats at the harbor and called for strict immigration policies. 

Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken on the topic of immigration, calling on nations to find ways to welcome and protect migrants. 

The pope and the president also discussed other topics of global interest, such as the contribution of religion to the common good in France and a multilateral commitment to prevent and resolve conflict, especially related to disarmament.

The two leaders also exchanged views on conflicts happening around the world, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, as well as the status and future of Europe.

Macron and Francis exchanged gifts before the president moved on to a meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Macron, a baptized Catholic but not a regular churchgoer, is France’s youngest president. He had never been elected to political office before running for president, and ran as the head of a new political party “En March!” He has described himself as a “centrist liberal” who hopes to transcend political boundaries.

In comments during his campaign last year, Macron at one point said “we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity,” though he voiced his belief that “when one enters the public realm, the laws of the Republic must prevail over religious law.”

Speaking to the French bishops in April this year, Macron underscored the important role of religion in fighting the relativism and nihilism present in the modern world. He praised the contribution of the Church in public life, especially in upholding human dignity.

In a telegram congratulating Macron on his election in May 2017, Francis prayed that God would support the leader, “so that your country, faithful to the rich diversity of its moral traditions and its spiritual heritage marked also by the Christian tradition, may always endeavor to build a more just and fraternal society.”