Four years after bestselling author William Peter Blatty filed a canon law petition asking the Vatican to correct serious abuses of Catholic identity at Georgetown University, The Cardinal Newman Society has publicly released extensive documentation that was included in the petition.
The 124-page report released today, including more than 400 footnoted citations, identifies Georgetown faculty members who have advocated for abortion and same-sex marriage and even held high positions in Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations. Other concerns relate to the Jesuit university’s trustees, job and internship programs, student activities, commencement speakers and other topics.
Blatty, the best-selling author and Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Exorcist, died last Thursday at the age of 89.
His attorney and fellow Georgetown alumnus Manuel Miranda confirmed this week that the canon law case begun in 2013 will continue to go forward, with the support of 2,000 Georgetown alumni, students, parents and faculty members.
“Bill Blatty did not live to see the fruit of his efforts, but we pray that his complaints will ultimately lead to a renewal of Georgetown’s Catholic identity,” said Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. “Bill loved his alma mater, and that’s why he simply could not be quiet while scandal after scandal continued. He wanted to see a renewal at Georgetown and Catholic universities nationwide.”
“We release this report with the very same hope for the future,” Reilly said.
The Cardinal Newman Society researched and wrote the dossier at Blatty’s request in 2013, and it constituted the primary evidence for his petition to the Vatican. The dossier has never been seen by the public.
Blatty did, however, reveal a 2014 letter from the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, indicating that it had been impressed by the documentation. “Your communications to this Dicastery in the matter of Georgetown University … constitutes a well-founded complaint,” wrote the Congregation’s Secretary Archbishop Angelo Zani in a letter to Blatty. Zani added, “Our Congregation is taking the issue seriously and is cooperating with the Society of Jesus in this regard.”
Prior to today’s release, Newman Society staff updated the dossier’s Internet links pointing to documents and news reports online. Otherwise, the report remains as it was submitted to the Vatican in 2013.
From the report summary:
It is because The Cardinal Newman Society has reported on [the Catholic identity concerns at Georgetown] for 20 years that Mr. Blatty asked us to provide what documentation we have available. Such is the purpose of this report. We discarded far more data than appears in these pages, either because it seemed dated and involved University officials who are no longer responsible for Georgetown, or because online documentation could no longer be found. It was also beyond our capability to conduct a thorough investigation of Georgetown’s faculty and leadership, academics, policies, etc., in addition to what we have compiled over the years. The theology department especially warrants more careful observation.
Moreover, this report is deliberately restricted to concerns about Georgetown University’s Catholic identity. It does not document the many good and healthy activities at Georgetown, which are plentiful. It can be argued, however, that only a minor portion of these activities appear to be distinctively Catholic, and we leave it to Georgetown to demonstrate the strengths of its Catholic identity, should it choose to do so.
This report does not attempt to make judgments as to Georgetown University’s conformity to Ex corde Ecclesiae and the Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae to the United States. While these documents provide the Church’s definition of a Catholic university, and we rely on that definition when referring to the mission of a Catholic university, this report is focused simply on documenting the concerns that we have observed.
The dossier identifies many examples of Georgetown’s lax hiring and personnel practices in recent decades, which seemed to disregard professors’ blatant opposition to Catholic teaching. These include high-profile defenders of abortion such as former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile, former U.S Congressman Father Robert Drinan, U.S. Congress candidate Judy Feder, former U.S. Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, and former White House Chief of Staff (and “Catholic Spring” architect) John Podesta.
Albright, Brazile, Feder and Podesta are still listed among Georgetown’s faculty.
Other current and past faculty members have had serious conflicts with Catholic teaching, according to the report. For example:
- A former women’s studies professor was Associate Director for Partnerships at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America—a position she held even while employed by Georgetown. Likewise, a policy attorney for the pro-abortion NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund was also a women’s studies professor. Georgetown also hired the former CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Maryland to its nursing and health sciences school.
- Philosophy professor and ethics scholar Tom Beauchamp and law professors M. Gregg Bloche and Lawrence Gostin have been key advocates for physician-assisted suicide while employed at Georgetown. All three are still identified as faculty members, and Gostin holds the title of University Professor, described as the “highest academic rank conferred by the University President.”
- Maggie Little has directed Georgetown’s Kennedy Institute for Ethics since 2009, despite her extensive advocacy for abortion rights.
- Chai Feldblum used her platform as a Georgetown law professor from 1991 until at least 2013 to advocate gender ideology and same-sex marriage. Feldblum also led the Moral Values Project at Georgetown to advocate the morality of “gay and bisexual” activity. Georgetown cheered her appointment to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she has done great damage to religious freedom. An open lesbian, Feldblum has been widely reported as the partner of Georgetown Law Associate Dean Nan Hunter, who is a former director of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.
- English professor Edward Ingebretsen (still on the faculty) was ordained a Catholic priest but has since affiliated with the “American Catholic Church,” a schismatic sect. An advocate for same-sex marriage, Ingebretsen officiates same-sex weddings and was himself married to a same-sex partner in 2004 — yet Georgetown has allowed him to teach a course on “gay and lesbian narratives.”
- Father Joseph Palacios continues to teach in Georgetown’s liberal studies programs despite being placed on “inactive status” by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for his advocacy of same-sex marriage. While at Georgetown, Palacios and the director of Georgetown’s LGBTQ Resource Center co-founded Catholics for Equality to oppose the U.S. bishops in support of same-sex marriage.
Problems extend to Georgetown’s board of trustees, which in 2013 included several donors to pro-abortion groups and politicians. Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue — who was chairman of Georgetown’s board of directors until 2015 and currently is vice chairman — and his wife have given tens of thousands of dollars to abortion and same-sex marriage advocacy groups. They gave $1 million for gay and lesbian activities at Georgetown. His wife Chandler was on the board of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.
The dossier reports a number of job referrals and internships at Georgetown that supported students working at Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Human Rights Campaign and other organizations that strongly oppose Catholic values.
Several student organizations sponsored by the university advocate abortion, same-sex marriage, and otherwise oppose Catholic teaching. The group H*yas for Choice, while not formally recognized by the university, is given free rein to advocate abortion and contraception on campus, host events, and advertise its activities with few restrictions.
A student majoring in theology at the Catholic Jesuit university, the dossier reports, “can devote a large portion of their studies to Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, the intersection of science and religion, etc. without studying authentic Catholic theology.” Professors in other disciplines are not expected to uphold Catholic teaching in the classroom.
Download and read the entire 124-page report here.