Saturday, June 23, 2018

BREAKING: Fr. Phillips Permanently Out at St. John Cantius, Faculties for Public Ministry Remain Withdrawn

Fr. Frank Phillips

A few hours ago, this letter from Fr. Gene Szarek, the Provincial Superior of the Congregation of the Resurrection (the "Resurrectionists") - the order that investigated Fr. Frank Phillips, the pastor of Chicago's St. John Cantius, concerning allegations of "improper conduct involving adult males" - was released. It was enclosed in this week's bulletin at tonight's anticipatory Mass, and is now posted on the St. John Cantius website:

The letter stated that "(w)e accept the Archdiocese's decision that Fr. Phillips' faculties for public-ministry will remain withdrawn and that he will not return as pastor of St. John Cantius and as Superior of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius."

There were no other statements issued by either the Archdiocese, the Resurrectionists or the Canons. No additional information was offered in the homily, and there are apparently no plans by any of the parties to make any additional statements before, during or after any of the four Masses tomorrow.  

The letter and its determination may have come as a shock to some, as just three days ago a press release from Protect our Priests, the main independent parishioners group formed to support Fr. Phillips when the charges were made three months ago, claimed that he had been "exonerated.": It stated that "(t)he Review Board [of the Resurrectionists] has concluded that Fr. Phillips has not violated any secular criminal, civil or canon law."

I can tell you that those close to the case feared or anticipated that though the facts of the investigation seemed to clear Fr. Phillips, he would nevertheless not be allowed to return. But I think most of us assumed there would be some explanation for that decision, including an effort to make clear why, despite the "exoneration," other considerations or factors dictated their conclusion.

Instead there was only the terse two paragraph letter, above.


This if of course a travesty.

The precise nature of the original charges was never made clear and indeed at the time, the Archdiocese made contradictory claims about them. The report on the what the investigation found regarding the charges (whatever they were) has not and apparently will not be released. Neither the Resurrectionists nor the Archdiocese gave any sort of reason for the decision.


So what actually happened?

Based upon what I know and have learned (independent of the recent press release from Protect our Priests), I am confident that Fr. Phillips is completely innocent of any wrongdoing, with "wrongdoing" interpreted in any way you wish - legal, civil or moral. And, yes, this also covers consensual sexual behavior as well as homosexual actions or behavior of any kind.

The false charges were made out of malice by an extremely troubled individual who had also enlisted two allies. Soon, the allegations would be seized upon by hostile forces in the Chicago Archdiocese and elsewhere as an opportunity  to attack and destroy an incredibly successful traditionalist pastor and (perhaps later) the traditionalist order that he founded and the old Chicago church that he saved from the wrecking ball and turned into one of Chicago's most thriving parishes.

The final result was not based on justice but on politics.

Catholic traditionalists and conservatives have assumed that the liberal Cardinal Cupich is somehow behind it all - not without reason, I think, given his past behavior and reputation. But I do not believe that blaming Cupich for all of it is correct, or at least, given what we know, entirely correct.

Fr. Phillips had other enemies.

Who are they?

Who are the accusers?

Why did they initially make their accusations?

Did Fr. Phillips do anything to possibly justify or cause what happened?

Since the statement from the Resurrectionists essentially says nothing, we'll start to answer those questions in the next post.

And, yes, we will be naming names.


  1. Given it is only right to regard this Fr Phillips innocent until such a time that he may be proven guilty of any crimes of which he is accused, presumably the same courtesy should be extended to those accused of his supposed defamation.

    1. But he has been found innocent. He was accused, and named. Those who calumniated him, who brought false charges, should now bear the penalty of their malicious accusations, in any code of justice. They should no longer be anonymous, and should not be unpunished for their wrongdoing.
      However, from Paul VI's time, and certainly since the FFI had their founder and superior removed under the present Pontificate, being put directly under outside control to bring about their destruction (both friars and nuns) without any charge against them being laid, this pontificate has no interest in acting with honesty or justice. The Vatican, and its most favoured members of the hierarchy, are simply a band of villains, a parasitic cancer in the Church.

  2. Surely this is a huge test for Fr. Philips and Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. If they accept it as if it came from God Himself, they are in the way of untold future blessings. If they react rather with resentment, churlishness , outrage, that is if they act naturally as practically anyone would, they will miss the opportunity the Lord is giving them. As Padre Pio put it, and surely he was in a position to know, it is a game of love. However, I doubt very much that Fr. Philips and the canons will react as if this were a natural, political event.

    Surely, it is an opportunity for Fr. Philips and the Canons regular of St. John Cantius to enter more deeply into the fruitful and surprising dynamic of the Paschal mystery, whose entrance way is obedience. “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:10-11).

    And we should support them in approaching this apparent calamity with equanimity, prayer and hope. However, I have already encountered in the traditional Catholic commentariat many references to the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago by his last name only, together with a great deal of scurrilous innuendo. Understandable as this is, it is not only a great mistake, but a true scandal, a stumbling block that we are tempted put in the way of brothers who are being offered an opportunity in the Lord.

    Someone should write a book celebrating the lives of saintly founders who have been kicked out of the orders they founded, which has practically happened to Fr. Philips. It happened to St. Alphsonus Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorists, to Basil Moreau, the founder of the Holy Cross Fathers and to many others. It is practically a stamp of divine approval, as were the disasters that happened to Job, to St. Theresa, to Our Lord.

    If we saw things in their proper perspective, would we not rather be inclined to rejoice that Providence is ushering Fr. Philips and the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius toward a great victory? This is the Agony in the Garden, or perhaps the Crucifixion, but surely not the end of the story. In the meantime, “a troubled mind and a contrite heart are a sacrifice to you, O Lord.”

    One could say, too, that this scenario is emblematic of the situation of the entire Church at the moment. Many of the faithful are in great distress, and injustice seems to have full sway. As it was with Job, though, this is a time for extreme circumspection in what we say and think.

    As noted above, Padre Pio went through a period of testing similar to that which has been imposed on Father Philips. Of no one else have I ever encountered the expression-as I did in a biography of Padre Pio- that his eyes were “blazing with hope.” So should our eyes be, in this darkness just before dawn.

    1. Lee, you have posted this elsewhere, and while you make a valid point on one level, there's a difference between accepting something as an opportunity from God (I'm sure Father Phillips has considered that), and the rest of us standing blithely by in silence. Sorry, but it's this sort of passivity that has allowed some of the worst abuses of Vatican II to take place. At what point do you say "Stop -- enough!"?

    2. I agree with your point. We are done being patient with injustice and heresy. If the men of Lepanto took such passive attitudes, we'd all be speaking Arabic now. There comes a time...

  3. Mercy for me but not thee. The hierarchy is beyond the pale into utter darkness. The pollution of modernism spews forth unabated. Please make us knowledgeable about this very significant situation. First thing is never ever accept initial rulings from the hierarchy. All too often they are tainted with bias and are grossly political.

  4. The same unjust persecution and removal has happened to many Saints. May Fr. Phillips once day be named among them. But for now, of course he was far too traditional and prayerful and those things are not going to be tolerated by the modernist element.

  5. I hope you can uncover a connection between the accusers and the Archdiocese - i.e. were they planted in St. John in order to cause disruption and destruction? That's the way the left works, and Cdl. Cupich is most definitely a leftist.

  6. The woman taken in adultery might have accepted being stoned and become a saint, but Jesus intervened.

    1. You are right. Jesus was surely wrong to forgive her and set her straight and tell her to sin no more.

  7. The bishop in San Antonio tried to remove another Fr. Phillips at Our Lady of the Atonement for false accusations and set him aside but luckily the parish was able to escape to the Ordinariate and Fr. Phillips is still in ministry although not as pastor there.

  8. Is there any chance the actual exoneration as written will be released? Not just from his “lawyers”. I think that needs to be made public so people can understand the travesty. This same thing is happening to many other traditional priest. Personally, I’m tired of it.

    1. At this point, I sincerely doubt it. The Congregation of the Resurrection never issued a statement of exoneration. They released only the statement, signed by the superior, which now appears at the website of St. John Cantius Church.

  9. Name the names Oaks!.....Name the names. It's time to fight back.

  10. This decision by His Eminence Cardinal Cupich and the reaction here and elsewhere throughout the Catholic blogsphere seem like a reprise of life in the Church for the past five years. Perhaps we will keep on going through the same thing till we finally discern the pattern and discover the means of escape. Yes, fratres, “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”

    While I won’t pretend to be anything like a Scripture scholar- not here, anyway-I did get a masters in the subject a few years ago, a fact I only mention by way of saying how striking to me is the lack of scriptural perspective in so much of the thinking that this incident has provoked. We (meaning the traditional commentariat), moi included of course, tend to view everything through a political lens.

    Leo Wong, however, endeavors to bring the scriptural perspective to this decision by saying, “The woman taken in adultery might have accepted being stoned and become a saint, but Jesus intervened.”

    Exactly. The same thing may well happen when His anointed shepherd is surrounded by a hostile crowd, the traditional commentariat. It is no longer a question of who will throw the first stone, for the stones are flying.

    Still, looking at His Eminence’s decision scripturally, is he not obliged “to test all things and hold fast to what is good”? Who more than our shepherds have that obligation? And what better test is there than obedience? To us, of course, the parochial life of St. John Cantius is manifestly good, but since the cardinal does not share our enthusiasm for recovering the tradition, and probably suspects it as being retrograde and counter-productive, it is perfectly sensible- from his standpoint- not only to test it but to endeavor to suppress it. This is objectively wrong and maddening, but may well be something he feels morally obligated to do. Is not this the ethos of Pope Francis as well?

    In this case, on whose side is Our Lord likely to intervene? It will not be on the side of the protestors, but on the side of the prelate caught in the very act of being pastoral (according to his own lights).

    Look at how David treated Saul, showing him every deference, not because Saul was morally upright and correct, not because he was friendly to David, but simply and only because he was the anointed of the Lord. He even avenged his death on this very account, for the Amelkite who killed Saul had not feared to kill the anointed of the Lord, yet Saul had been avid to obtain the death of David.

    That David knew what he was about is shown in the fact that he himself was raised to the kingship and became the anointed of the Lord.

    We (too many of us), however, tend to think that somehow murmuring against the Archbishop will move the cause of the Church and of the Canons Regular and Fr. Philip. Given His Eminence’s putative mindset, how likely is he to reverse his decision were he to read what is being said about him in the traditional blogsphere? We (too many of us) are failing the test on behalf of Fr. Philips and the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. We have become like Shimei following David ( now the Lord’s anointed) out of Jerusalem, cursing him and throwing stones at him. There is no blessing in it. It has no possibility of accomplishing anything good, least of all for Fr. Philips and the canons. Ironically, very ironically, his eminence is apt to read the traditional blogsphere and be hardened in his view that the traditionalist wing of the Church is schismatic.

    1. I generally agree. However, first, it would be a little odd (and unfair to Fr. Philips and SJC church) if the cardinal were to base his decisions on pseudonymous blog comments, which very well might have been written by their enemies to make them look bad. Second, I don't think it is unreasonable to ask what Fr. Philips was actually accused of, and whether or not he was found guilty. I'm not even saying we deserve to know, just that it's a perfectly reasonable thing to ask, given the circumstances. Of course, that should be done with respect.

      "his view that the traditionalist wing of the Church is schismatic"

      If this view (if indeed he holds it) was allowed to bias his decision with regard to Fr. Philips' alleged behavior, that would be rather unfair to him, wouldn't it?

    2. Thank you for reminding us of David's reaction to Saul. When it hurts, we have a tendency in life to bite back - but to hold back and treat all as coming from the Lord is faith; "...a humble and contrite heart Oh God, thou will not despise..."

  11. Going by what Cardinal Cupich said in his talk in Oxford, he is an apostate at best and almost certainly a heretic - unfortunately not dissimilar to many of the hierarchy at the moment.