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Canons of St John Cantius founder Fr. C. Frank Phillips relocating to St Louis

The former pastor of St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago, has been asked by his religious superior to move to St. Louis, the priest informed his supporters Wednesday.

Father Frank Phillips in an October 12, 2015 photo. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Chicago, Ill., Jul 20, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. C. Frank Phillips, former pastor of St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago, has been asked by his religious superior to move to St. Louis, the priest informed his supporters Wednesday.

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.

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

“From the founding of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, I have instructed the men how to live the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. One of those vows, obedience, may especially challenge Religious because it is difficult to submit your will to a superior,” Fr. Phillips wrote July 18 to Protect Our Priests, a group formed to support and assist him.

“As you know, the Canons are requested not to have contact with me, which is difficult for them and for me as their Founder. Also, I have been asked by my superior to relocate to St. Louis. I am requested to do this not under formal obedience but willingly in the virtue of obedience. Is this difficult? Yes, it is,” he wrote.

The saints “were always obedient to their superiors, and their examples help to sustain me now,” Fr. Phillips wrote. “We need only look to St. Padre Pio to see the extent of his lived obedience. If I could not or would not listen to my superior, how could I then expect the Canons, as their Founder, to be obedient to their superior?”

He said he is uncertain of what the future holds for him, and that “time will tell” what it holds for the Canons.

“I feel confident that they will be blessed with vocations for their dedication to the restoration of the sacred in obedience,” he added.

“I thank everyone who has supported the Protect Our Priests initiative with prayers, sacrifices, Masses, and contributions. May St. John Cantius, our heavenly patron, extend his blessing to all of you.”

The Archdiocese of Chicago forwarded unspecified allegations against Fr. Phillips 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.

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 is 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.”

In a June 29 statement Fr. Szarek said that reports “the Independent Review Board exonerated Fr. Phillips are without foundation.”

Fr. Szarek added that he has offered his support to those accusing Fr. Phillips of misconduct and has “assure[d] them of appropriate pastoral care.” He said this “is surely a difficult time for those who have suffered in any way, and I entrust their care to your prayers.”

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20 Comments

  1. I agree with obedience as long as no moral issue is involved as was not the case with St. Athanasius who was excommunicated by Pope Liberius and became the 1st Doctor of the Catholic Church and who was known as the Father of Orthodoxy stated “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of Bishops.”

  2. Why is it that the second paragraph states that Father has been accused of misconduct, but it is not until the second to last paragraph that the Indepent Review Board exonerated him and said the accusations are without foundation? Bad journalism, or journalists with an agenda?

    • In fairness to the writer of this article, the second to last paragraph does not assert that “the accusations are without foundation.” Father Szarek stated in his letter that “[t]he reports that the Independent Review Board exonerated Fr. Phillips are without foundation.” So according to Father Szarek, it was the reports of Father Phillips being exonerated, not the accusations themselves, that were “without foundation.”

    • It’s an agenda. I’m a long time parishioner. This is a conservative parish that is a thorn in the side of the Cardinal and the left. We gave had dozens of vocations and are self supporting. Father Frank daredcto speak against the decadent lifestyles of many in Chicago. I’m my opinion, he was set up.

  3. WHY IS THIS WRITTEN IN SUCH A NEGATIVE VEIN??? FATHER PHILLIPS WAS TOTALLY EXONERATED AND BY CANON LAW MUST BE RETORED TO HIS PASTORAL & SUPERIOR ROLES ! IT IS THE ARCHBISHOP WHO IS BREAKING CANON LAW IN REMOVING FATHER FIRST AS HE IS AN ARCHDIOCESAN OFFICIAL AND IT IS TO B E HIS ORDERS SCOPE TO REMOVE HIM- ONLY A F T E R A GIULTY VERDICT WHOCH DID N OT HAPPEN HE WAS FOUND INNOCENT! he should have n e v e r been removed by canon law! secondly his behavior is far above that of archdiocesan officials he e is a order priest and a TTRADITIONAL PRIEST WHICH HAVE HIGHER STANDARDS THAT ARCHDIOCESAN PRIESTS AND PERSONAL 3 RD LY HE HAS SPENT 30 YEARS RESTORING ST JOHN CANTIUS TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND HAS KNOWN HE WAS IN A FISH BOWL ESPECIALLY SINCE CUPICH CAME HERE AS CUPICH HATES TRADTITIONAL CHURCHES AND THELATIN MASS- HE WOULD NOT HVE DONE ANYTHING TOHAVE JEPARIZED ST JOHN’S ==HIS 30 YRS OF WORK– THE CANON REGULARS– HE IS A HIGHLY INTELLEGENT MAN WHO WHO NEVER ALLOW SCANDAL OF ANY KIND AT ST JOHN’S HE WOULD NEVER HOMSELF BRING SCANDAL. CUPICH BROUGH THE SCANDAL IN NOT HANDLING THIS ACCORDING TO CANON LAW AND PUBLIISING THIS AS ANYTHING WITHIN THE CHURCH WAS TOBE HANDLED QUIETLY AND WHAT DID CUPICH DO HE RELEASED IT TO ALL PUBLIC NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL MEDIA’S AND PUT IT ON THE ARCHDIOCESAN WEBSITE TO SMEAR FATHER PHILLIPS GOOD NAME AND REPUTATION AND ST JOHN’S ! IT ISH E WHO MUST BE REMOVED AND FATHER PHILLIPS MUST BE REINSTATED IMEDIATELY7 IF THIS HAPPENS AT ST JOHNS IT CAN & WILL HAPPEN AT EVERY CHURCH IN CHICAGO ARCDIOCESE EVERY CHURCH HAS A TARGETON ITS BACK EVERY CATHOLIC WITHIN THE ARCHDIOCESE SHOULD FIGHT THIS HERE BEFORE IT IT OUR WON PARISHES AND PASTORS WHO ARE FALSELY CHARGED AND REMOVED

    • WHY ARE YOU SCREAMING AT US IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS?

      I don’t know if what you wrote is true or not; but I do know that unless you write more calmly and in an organized fashion, because it is difficult to follow what you are saying.

      • Hmm, either I forgot to type it or it disappeared; my previous post shoul have ended “you won’t convince anyone.”

    • Thank you for being so emphatic. I have felt many of the things you shared and I appreciate you giving them voice.

  4. Well, isn’t it interesting that this priest was able to go about his business for many, many years, without any problems. Until Cupich arrived, that is. And then suddenly someone alleges something. I find the whole thing suspicious in the extreme. We know Cupich hates the traditional mass. We know Cupich took steps to return his seminary to a rather progressive, highly unusual place.

    Now, if this priest had done anything really wrong, his superiors would not be recommending that he move to St. Louis. However, St. Louis is the home of a good, orthodox archbishop Carlson. The priest will be able to continue his work in peace there. With Cupich in Chicago, we know that further attempts on this priests career would be made.

    • Supposedly he had openly criticized the gay priest who was arrested and caused scandal at the Vatican and criticized practicing homosexual acts. Cardinal Cupich, is a supporter of the pro-gay priest, Fr. Martin. Some members of his parish wonder if this was part of the reason Father Phillips is being persecuted. That and the fact that Cardinal Cupich is no fan of the Traditional Latin Mass.

  5. Pray for the Canons, for Cardinal Cupich, and for Fr. Phillips, that each will receive the fullness of grace in the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, we pray.

  6. This sounds like the first step in trying to dismantle the successful Canons Regular of St John Cantius; find an excuse whatever it may be, to besmirch and humiliate it’s founder with vague unspecified accusations (allowing the public to assume) the worst, and remove him from leadership.. The fact that they did not officially find him guilty of anything yet they advise that he undergoe a psychological evaluation and “sensitivity training” is a clue that he’s been merely accused of political incorrect behavior; the exact same language and terminology was used when other traditionalist priests were removed from ministry and sentenced to psychological evaluations and sensitivity training for merely teaching the truthin a traditional Catholic manner, which sometimes is done bluntly and directly; A colossal no-no in the progressive pastoral care guidebook; one reads the way that Padre Pio dealt with some people he too would have been booted off to sensitivity training and psychological evaluations by today’s progressive standards. Though I suspect that the Canons Regular of St John Cantius is the real long-term target..

  7. I agreed totally. Its always the Tradition Holy Prieststhat got attacked by the evil….n just like the Franciscans of the Immaculata in Rome. N the nuns of the Franciscans too were distance!!! If l could used that Term!

  8. Cupich is one sorry Bishop.he Hates Traditional Catholics an Priests,I sure would hate to be him when he sucks in that last breath an has to be judged by our Sweet Lord,Our Lord is a just Lord and a Merciful,Cupich started this tragedy because Fr Phillips is a Traditional Priest,Cupich is just a horrible person an just one good for nothing Bishop.

  9. Obedience to ones superiors is critical in religious life. Cardinal Cupich needs prayers to do what is truly best for the Church and not his own agenda. I will continue to pray for Fr. Phillips and the Canons. The time of martyrdom is here!

  10. To Father Szarek,
    How does it feel to be a pawn to the A/B of Chicago? You are obedient to a wolf who seeks your parish’s destruction.
    Well, Fr Szarek it is July of 2018, not 1018. The concerned faithful will not accept being treated like medieval peasants.
    We have had enough of this corruption BS and the war on Tradition. What you are doing is not obedience.
    It is suicide.

  11. Heaven is populated (crowded might be more apt, but we’re talking about Heaven here) – populated with happy and blessed priests who cheerfully obeyed every (legal) order of their bishop/superior.

    Bishops/superiors who abuse their authority by [fill in your favorite complaint here______] instead of prayerfully exercising their authority in charity and justice will envy those happy, holy priests for all eternity.

    But where will they be?

    Hint: you can’t envy in Heaven.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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