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 www.gupetition.org. 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.
Blatty has asked The Cardinal Newman Society to advise the effort, share documentation on Georgetown scandals, and provide administrative support. CNS President Patrick J. Reilly told Georgetown’s campus newspaper The Hoya:
For 19 years, The Cardinal Newman Society has documented numerous concerns at Georgetown that significantly compromise the university’s Catholic identity. We’re thrilled that the distinguished alumnus William Peter Blatty has invited us to assist him and others in their efforts to defend Georgetown’s Catholic mission from those who would undermine or abandon it. Such intervention is necessary only because Georgetown’s leadership has repeatedly demonstrated its unwillingness to uphold Georgetown’s obligations under the U.S. bishops’ guidelines, Ex corde Ecclesiae and Canon Law.
The announcement of the law suit comes on the same day Georgetown is undermining the Catholic bishops and all Catholics by honoring “pro-choice” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, architect of the HHS contraceptive mandate, as a commencement-day speaker.
The full announcement from the Father King Society follows, dated May 18:
ACADEMY AWARD WINNER TAKES ON GEORGETOWN
Exorcist Author Leads Alumni & Student Effort to Address Repeated Scandals and Non-Compliance at America’s Oldest Catholic University
Washington, D.C. – Academy Award winner William Peter Blatty, whose best-selling book and blockbuster film The Exorcist were situated at his alma mater, Georgetown University, announced today that he will lead alumni, students and other members of the new Father King Society to petition the Catholic Church for 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 move comes on the heels of an unprecedented rebuke of Georgetown and its first lay president by His Eminence, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, over Georgetown’s invitation to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to be a diploma ceremony speaker today. Georgetown, however, has not backed down.
The editors of the Archdiocesan newspaper wrote in an editorial last Sunday regarding Georgetown: “When the vision guiding university choices does not clearly reflect the light of the Gospel and authentic Catholic teaching, there are, of course, disappointing results.”
The Father Kings Society’s Canon Law action, based on Georgetown’s failure for more than two decades to comply with the requirements of Ex corde Ecclesiae (ECE), the 1990 Apostolic Constitution for Catholic Universities, was already being planned before the Sebelius scandal.
“This is simply the last straw,” said Blatty. “The scandals that Georgetown has given to the faithful are too many to count, and too many to ignore any longer.”
On the Father King Society website [www.fatherkingsociety.org ] announcing the Canon Law action, Blatty writes: “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. …Georgetown is being dishonest. Together, we need to end that!”
Linking GU’s non-compliance with Church law to GU’s regular scandals, the website tracks the Archdiocesan editorial: “Twenty two years of GU scandals, since Ex corde Ecclesiae was promulgated, are not just proof of a failed Catholic identity, they are evidence and a direct result of Georgetown’s failure to comply with ECE.”
Blatty does not mince words about who is to blame for Georgetown’s slide:
“Many believe that to make Georgetown truly Catholic is to turn back the clock hands and somehow limit its very nature as a university, as if the notion of ‘Catholic’ and ‘university’ are new to each other, or inherently at odds. On the contrary, to make Georgetown ‘Catholic’ is to move the clock forward; it is to make the University better than it now is! Of course, there are always those who are afraid of change—who lack vision. They may need to step aside.”
“John Paul II exhorted us all to preserve for the Church the highest places of culture—our universities. Generations of alumni have long been seduced to ‘go along’ by dinners, medals, and board seats. We have all been negligent for too long: the laity, the clergy, and the bishops as well.”
The Fr. King Society has enlisted the help of The Cardinal Newman Society, which for nearly two decades has been a leader in the movement to promote strong Catholic identity. The Cardinal Newman Society will provide expert advice, research assistance, and public relations support.
In 1991-1992, Georgetown was the stage for a similar Canon Law action based on Ex corde Ecclesiae. Then-Dean of Student Affairs Dr. John J. DeGioia, now GU’s first lay president, authorized funding and support for a pro-abortion student advocacy group. Cardinal James Hickey rebuked Georgetown but held that the matter needed resolution in Rome, and the petitioners appealed directly to John Paul II. Georgetown’s Jesuit president was called to Rome.
A few weeks later on a Friday afternoon, the support for the pro-abortion student group was reversed, and the Canon petition became moot. It was a success that reverberated as other universities announced defunding of similar clubs.
The new planned Canon Law action is larger in scale and potential consequences than the 1991-1992 petition. The United States Catholic Bishops are presently evaluating the implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae two decades later, and on May 5th His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI urged American bishops expressly to implement the constitution in the United States.