By Elvia Malagon
The Rev. C. Frank Phillips, founder of a religious order of men and pastor at the storied St. John Cantius Catholic Parish, was removed last week by the Archdiocese of Chicago amid an investigation into allegations of improper conduct with adult men, according to church officials.
In a statement to parishioners, Cardinal Blase Cupich explained that he had made the decision to “withdraw” Phillips after learning “of credible allegations of improper conduct involving adult men.” Anne Maselli, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said in an email that the allegations do not involve any minors.
Phillips is barred from performing any priestly duties, including administering the sacraments. Phillips is a priest within the religious order of the Congregation of the Resurrection, which will further investigate the allegations, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The parish is at 825 N. Carpenter St. in the Goose Island neighborhood. Phillips will also have to move to a location determined by his order.
“I am aware that this is difficult news to receive, but the Archdiocese of Chicago is committed to ensuring those serving our parishioners are fit for ministry,” Cupich said in a statement. “Know that this decision was made after careful consideration. I will continue to pray for you and am confident the Lord will sustain the St. John Cantius community as you make this transition.”
Phillips had been with the parish since 1988, and it has become well-known in the archdiocese for traditional services in Latin and English. In 1998, Phillips founded the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius as a religious community of men who devote their lives to the church and live under “the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience,” according to the Cantians’ website. The men follow traditions similar to those of the Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits. The group falls under the Archdiocese of Chicago, Maselli said.
The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius was first approved by Cardinal Francis George, according to the church’s website.
“The preservation of the traditional Catholic art and the Catholic music are a means of evangelizing to people,” Phillips told the Tribune in 2000. “The sacred arts should draw the hearts of individuals closer to God.”
The Canons Regular will now be supervised by the Rev. Scott Thelander, who will also serve as administrator of the church, according to the statement. Services at the church are expected to continue as scheduled.
The removal of Phillips has left parishioners stunned, said David Carollo, a longtime member of St. John Cantius. He credited Phillips with helping the Canons Regular grow through the years.
Carollo said he believes Phillips is innocent and will be cleared of any wrongdoing. He thinks that is especially true because of the code Phillips and the other men involved in the order live by.
“This doesn’t fit the man I know,” Carollo said.
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