William Peter Blatty (C ’50), author of the “The Exorcist,” submitted a petition Friday to the archbishop of Washington, D.C., calling for Georgetown to comply strictly with canon law or be stripped of the right to call itself a Jesuit and Catholic institution.
The petition, which features approximately 1,200 signatures, is presented by “The Father King Society to Make Georgetown Honest, Catholic and Better” — a group Blatty announced he would create one year ago. Blatty argues that Georgetown has failed to comply with Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II’s 1991 decree regarding Catholic universities.
“What is evident is that Georgetown University has been captured by the ideology of radical autonomy. It pervades everything,” Blatty’s counsel and press contact Manuel Miranda (SFS ’82) wrote in a press release. “Academic freedom is now prisoner to intolerant new orthodoxies, and Catholic moral teaching has surrendered to the dictatorship of moral relativism,” added Miranda, who is former president of the Cardinal Newman Society.
The canon protest relies on precedent set by a July 2012 Vatican decree that ordered the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru to remove both “pontifical” and “Catholic” from its name, citing incompatible principles between the Church and the university. The university, however, retains its name after school officials refused to comply with the decree.
The 198-page petition against Georgetown details violations of Catholic doctrine over the past 23 years, pointing to Georgetown’s recognition of Sandra Fluke’s advocacy regarding contraception access, the decline in the number of Jesuits on campus, student performances of “The Vagina Monologues” and the invitation of speakers supportive of abortion rights, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The petition also states each requirement of Ex Corde Ecclesiae and outlines how Georgetown has failed to meet it.
Director of Communications Rachel Pugh affirmed Georgetown’s commitment to its Catholic identity, citing undergraduates’ two-semester theology and philosophy requirement, Masses offered on campus and Campus Ministry programs.
“Our Catholic and Jesuit identity on campus has never been stronger. Academically, we remain committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Pugh wrote in an email. “We are proud of the countless ways that our students put their faith into action through service and justice programs.”