It’s no secret that William Peter Blatty, author of “The Exorcist” book and screenplay, is a vocal critic of his alma mater Georgetown University, charging that the Catholic college should be penalized for regularly violating church teaching.
Two years after he first voiced concerns about the campus’ purported sway away from the faith, the Vatican has written a brief response agreeing that his complaints are “well-founded” and that his concerns are being seriously considered by Catholic leaders.
In September 2013, Blatty submitted a petition with 2,000 signatures that called for Georgetown to lose its Catholic and Jesuit labels, calling both students and faculty out for not being wedded enough to the Catholic faith, the Washington Post reported. The petition was 200 pages and contained more than 480 footnotes, 99 appendices and 124 witness statements.
In a response letter dated April 4, Archbishop Angelo Zani, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, a group that oversees faith-based institutions, said that the church would not handle the manner in the way Blatty requested, as the author was not personally impacted by the university’s actions or inactions — a requirement for the “hierarchical recourse” he requested.
That said, Zani called the complaint “well-founded.”
“Your communications to this dicastery in the matter of Georgetown University … constitute a well-founded complaint,” Zani wrote. “Our congregation is taking the issue seriously and is cooperating with the Society of Jesus in this regard.”
It is unclear what the Vatican will do, if anything, to address Blatty’s complaints, but, as the National Catholic Register has noted, the author has asked the Vatican to “require that Georgetown implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae, a papal constitution governing Catholic colleges.”
Blatty is hopeful that the response means the Vatican will consider working to help make the university’s Catholic identity more fervent.
“I am deeply gratified that the prayers of my 2,000 fellow petitioners have been answered,” Blatty said in an interview with the National Catholic Register. “There is still more work to be done, and I promise them that we will persevere.”
The author’s battle with Georgetown began in 2012 when Blatty, who graduated from the school in 1950, encouraged students, professors and others to join him in opposing the school’s behaviors that he felt ran counter to Catholic teaching.
In an interview with the Washington Post last year, Blatty openly spoke about what led to his decision to take on his alma mater.
“If you truly love someone that you think needs to be in rehab, you’ll do everything you possibly can to get them into rehab,” he said, noting that the last straw was when Georgetown invited now-outgoing Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who supports abortion rights.
(H/T: Washington Post)