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Exorcist' Writer Calls for Potential Canon Lawsuit to Prevent Georgetown University From Calling Itself 'Catholic


"honest, Catholic and better."

William Peter Blatty (AP)

First, Georgetown University brought us Sandra Fluke. Now, the higher educational facility, which has been catching flack of late for perceived anti-Catholic bias (which is ironic, because it's a Catholic university), may be at the center of an epic "legal" battle. In an intriguing set of circumstances, William Peter Blatty, the Academy Award Winner and author of "The Exorcist," is leading the charge against the institution.

(Related: ‘Scandalous & Outrageous’: Catholics Angry Over HHS Sec. Sebelius’ Georgetown Commencement Invite)

Blatty, who graduated from the university in 1950, is angry over Georgetown's refusal to comply with Catholic teaching. The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) provides more information on the potential canon lawsuit that seems to be gaining steam:

Georgetown University alumni, students and others are preparing a canon law suit to be filed with the Archdiocese of Washington and the Vatican, seeking remedies “up to and including the possible removal or suspension of top-ranked Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic or Jesuit in its fundraising and representations to applicants.”

The effort is being led by the distinguished Georgetown alumnus William Peter Blatty, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay and book The Exorcist and has been honored by Georgetown with its John Carroll Medal for alumni achievement.

Blatty is urging Georgetown alumni, students, parents, faculty and anyone associated with Georgetown to join the lawsuit at  The website includes an inspiring letter by Blatty and a description of Georgetown’s historical ties to the Jesuits, the Washington Archdiocese and the Vatican.

In a letter posted on the petition's web site, Blatty makes the reasons for his opposition to Georgetown's Catholic title known. The famed writer claims that the university has refused to align itself with John Paul II's Ex corde Ecclesiaie (a Catholic Constitution for universities) and, thus, canon law.

Considering the school's many purportedly anti-Catholic scandals, including its recent commencement invite to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Blatty is taking a firm stance. In his note, he asks others to join him in making Georgetown "honest, Catholic and better." He writes:

In the months to come, The Father King Society will ask Georgetown and the Church for explanations and decisions. In 1991, in an effort led by courageous Georgetown students, my dearly missed classmate, GU Law Center Prof. Richard Alan Gordon, took the awesome step of submitting a canon law petition asking the Church to remove Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic. Then Dean of Students John J. DeGioia had authorized the funding of a pro-abortion student advocacy group. A contemporaneous secret memorandum from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities to the presidents of all Jesuit institutions showed us that Dr. DeGioia’s decision was part of a larger scheme: GU was to be the dissident leader for others to follow. Dean Gordon’s effort was provocative and drastic, but within months of the filing, Rome required Georgetown to reverse itself, and Georgetown did. [...]

We may choose to file a canon action again, one much larger in scale and seeking alternative forms of relief that will include, among others, that Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit be revoked or suspended for a time. We will ask for lesser relief as well. Of course, what we truly seek is for Georgetown to have the vision and courage to be Catholic but clearly the slow pastoral approach has not worked.


“This is simply the last straw,” Blatty has proclaimed.  “The scandals that Georgetown has given to the faithful are too many to count, and too many to ignore any longer.”

The announcement, not coincidentally, comes on the same day that Sebelius addressed the policy institute’s graduating class.

(H/T: Cardinal Newman Society)

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