For Immediate Release
May 15, 2014
Contact: Manuel A. Miranda 202-262-7789
Holy See Rules Blatty Petitioners Have Established “Well Founded Complaint”
Vatican Finds Georgetown In Violation of Its Catholic Identity
Washington, D.C. – Launched almost one year ago, the Canon Law petition of more than 2,000 Catholics represented by Academy Award winner William Peter Blatty, whose best-selling book and blockbuster film The Exorcist were situated at his alma mater Georgetown University, has received a formal response from the Holy See.
The “Petition” asked the Catholic Church to require that Georgetown implement Ex corde Ecclesiae, a papal constitution governing Catholic colleges, and, only as a last possible measure, the removal or suspension of top-ranked Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit in any of its representations. As head of the Argentine bishops’ conference and as chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, successfully implemented Ex corde Ecclesiae, and he also approved of Pope Benedict’s 2012 decree removing consent from the University of Peru to call itself “Catholic”.
In a letter dated April 4, Archbishop Angelo Zani, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, wrote: “Your communications to this Dicastery in the matter of Georgetown University . . . constitutes a well-founded complaint.” Zani added: “Our Congregation is taking the issue seriously, and is cooperating with the Society of Jesus in this regard.”
Blatty issued this statement: “I am deeply gratified that the prayers of my two thousand fellow Petitioners have been answered. There is still more work to be done, and I promise them that we will persevere.”
Manuel A. Miranda, Blatty’s lawyer, was likewise delighted: “As the author of the ‘well-founded complaint,’ we feel vindicated, not only in our substance but also in how we raised our petition procedurally, especially when I recall all the handwringers, naysayers, and Kumbaya critics at the start. I am very grateful to the canonists who guided me. We petitioned the Vatican, as Pope Francis has invited the Laity to do, and made known our needs. What the faithful need is for the Georgetown scandal to end, and also for the American bishops to stop their neglect of American Catholic higher education.”
“We looked to the law of the Church and we applied the facts. The Vatican has accepted our compliant as well-founded, now it is up to the Holy Father to show whether he is more Pope than Jesuit and give us some relief, as Christ taught us when he rebuked the money changers, ” Miranda added.
Miranda also addressed what the Vatican chose not to do, something that has been incompletely reported by news outlets:
“The Congregation chose against going down the legal path of “hierarchic recourse.” This was a particular path based in the Code of Canon Law that we suggested. Instead, they are choosing to deal with Georgetown’s serious violations of Ex corde Ecclesiae based on our complaint on their own plenary authority. The Church presently has all the authority it needs to order Georgetown to comply. We asked for “hierarchic recourse” as a right that the faithful have. The Vatican is telling us that this is not necessary for them to pursue our “well-founded complaint” to its end. They are telling us that we made our case and that they are sufficiently alarmed and will now take it from here,” Miranda said.
“In other words, we approached the Holy See like a lawyer would, and they responded as the Vicar of Christ does. As we lawyers say, that is ‘a good result’,” said Miranda. “The question correctly asked now is whether we trust that Pope Francis will do the right thing and walk his talk,” he added.
Pope Francis’ recent follow-up to the decree issued by his predecessor against the Jesuit-administered (former Pontifical Catholic) University of Peru, in recently sending to Lima a Papal Commission to address that dispute suggests that the Holy Father is pursuing Catholic identity of universities seriously. In that 2013 decree, the Holy See ruled that while it could no longer call itself Catholic, the University of Peru did not stop being Church property and remained fully obligated under Church law. Likewise, Georgetown University is Church property legally entrusted in the early 1800’s to the Society of Jesus who have directly or indirectly administered it through the same civil corporation ever since.
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For Immediate Release
October 4, 2013
Contact: Manuel A. Miranda 202-262-7789
Blatty’s Georgetown Petition Goes to Pope Francis
Washington Archdiocese Guides Petition to Rome
Washington, D.C. – The Canon Law petition of more than 2,000 Catholics represented by Academy Award winner William Peter Blatty, whose best-selling book and blockbuster film The Exorcist were situated at his alma mater Georgetown University, has now been submitted to the Supreme Pontiff with the guidance and green light of the Archdiocese of Washington.
The “Petition” asks the Catholic Church to require that Georgetown implement Ex corde Ecclesiae, a papal constitution governing Catholic colleges, and, only as a last possible measure, the removal or suspension of top-ranked Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit in any of its representations. As head of the Argentine bishops’ conference and as chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, successfully implemented Ex corde Ecclesiae, and he also approved of Pope Benedict’s 2012 decree removing consent from the University of Peru to call itself “Catholic”.
“What is profoundly interesting,” Blatty pointed out, “is that the very first remedy that we asked of the Archbishop of Washington, His Eminence, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, was: ‘If the Holy Spirit leads you to it and your conscience will allow it, to declare publicly that Georgetown University is compliant with Ex corde Ecclesiae, orients its institutional initiatives according to standards that are consistent with the norms and morality of the Church, and lives up to the title ‘Catholic’.”
“His Eminence opted not to do that,” Blatty noted.
In fact, in 2012, Cardinal Wuerl’s Archdiocesan newspaper wrote in an editorial that at Georgetown University today: “leadership and faculty find their inspiration in sources other than the Gospel and Catholic teaching,” and that “the vision guiding university choices does not clearly reflect the light of the Gospel and authentic Catholic teaching.”
In directing the Petitioners to Rome, after consultation with the Holy See, the Archdiocese of Washington also made clear that, despite Georgetown’s frequent misrepresentations to the contrary, Georgetown’s board and administration are accountable to the Society of Jesus (the “Jesuits”) and to the Holy See.
The canonical procedure being employed is not a “lawsuit” but reflects the Vatican II-inspired invitation to the Catholic faithful to make known their needs to the Catholic hierarchy. The “Petition” cites the Vatican Decree ordered by Pope Benedict XVI, issued on July 11, 2012, that the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, a prominent Latin American university, cease calling itself “Catholic” and “Pontifical,” while declaring at the same time that it continues to be ecclesiastical property and subject to Church law.
“The Petition submitted to the Pope,” said Manuel A. Miranda, who serves as Mr. Blatty’s counsel, “is more than 200 pages and contains more than 480 footnotes, 99 appendices, 124 witness statements, and a commissioned 120-page institutional audit of Georgetown. We have documented 23 years of Scandals and dissidence, more than 100 Scandals in the most recent years alone.”
“Georgetown University,” Miranda continued, “has been captured by the ideology of radical autonomy. It pervades everything. Academic freedom is now prisoner to intolerant new orthodoxies, and Catholic moral teaching has surrendered to the dictatorship of moral relativism.” In 1992, Miranda authored a similar, successful petition to Pope John Paul II regarding Georgetown.
“Our Petition,” Blatty added, “has been ‘submitted in prayer to the miraculous intercession of Blessed Pope John Paul II’ and is now with the Supreme Pontiff as he prepares to make Blessed John Paul a saint.”
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For Immediate Release
July 1, 2013
Contact: Manuel A. Miranda 202-262-7789
Blatty Calls On All People of Faith To Pray for Cardinal Wuerl
RELEASES INFORMATION ABOUT PETITION
Exorcist Author Responds To Georgetown University’s Defense Statement
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, called on all people of faith to pray for Donald, Cardinal Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington.
The call to prayer comes one month after a Petition of 1200 alumni, students, parents, teachers, and other Laity from around the world was delivered to the Cardinal. The “Petition” prays that the Catholic Church impose conditions under which top-ranked Georgetown University may continue to call itself Catholic and Jesuit. Georgetown University is Church property entrusted to the Society of Jesus, and possesses a rare pontifical charter. Under canon law, Cardinal Wuerl has two more months to respond.
“We must pray for Cardinal Wuerl, and his advisors, as they consider a Petition of the Laity who pray for an end to Georgetown’s 23 years of Scandals,” said Blatty.
Blatty released information about the very confidential Petition.
“Our Petition was ‘submitted in prayer to the powerful intercessions of St. Jude Thaddeus and the miraculous intercession of Blessed John Paul II.’ We invoked ‘the spiritual protection of the North American Martyrs’ once considered Georgetown’s patron saints,” revealed Blatty.
“With prayer, we will count a positive response to our Petition as a miracle of Blessed John Paul,” Blatty said.
Blatty also released a never-before-published photograph of himself meeting Pope John Paul II (at right), the former university-professor-turned-pope who promulgated the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the 1990 apostolic constitution for Catholic universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae, and the great encyclical Veritatis Splendor, all of which support the Petition submitted to Cardinal Wuerl.
“Blessed John Paul is my inspiration,” Blatty said.
Blatty responded to Georgetown’s recent defense of itself. GU Director of Communications Rachel Pugh affirmed Georgetown’s commitment to its Catholic identity. She told the campus newspaper The Hoya: “Our Catholic and Jesuit identity on campus has never been stronger. Academically, we remain committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition.” Pugh cited undergraduates’ two courses in theology and philosophy requirement, Masses offered on campus and Campus Ministry programs. She wrote in an email. “We are proud of the countless ways that our students put their faith into action through service and justice programs.”
“Georgetown’s defense is like a dancer doing pirouettes on the edge of the absurd.” Blatty responded. “My old stomping ground Brooklyn,” Blatty noted, “has lots of Masses offered every day, and yet Brooklyn, oddly, is not Catholic.”
“Talking about ‘Masses offered on campus’ is like putting up a ‘Potemkin village,” said Blatty, “and reminds us of Pope Benedict’s warning just one year ago.”
On May 5, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI said in a speech to American bishops that preservation of a university’s Catholic identity “entails much more than the teaching of religion or the mere presence of a chaplaincy on campus.”
“Georgetown always speaks about student service and justice programs, but these are touted by most American colleges. The University of Southern California regularly wins national awards for its commitment to community service and social justice programs, and yet USC is not Catholic,” Blatty remarked.
“Meanwhile among the vivid palette of mind-and-soul stretching Philosophy courses that a Georgetown parent will pay for to meet GU’s course requirement are such offerings as ‘Philosophy of Sport,’ ‘Gender & Justice,’ ‘Business Responsibility,’ ‘Global Warming,’ ‘Philosophy and Star Trek,’ ‘Hallucinating,’ ‘Emotions,’ ‘Gender & Equality,’ and ‘Distributive Justice,” said Blatty.
“Among the courses that meet GU’s Theology requirement are ‘Yoga and Meditation,’ ‘Catholics Go to the Movies: Questioning Catholicism from the King of Kings to the Da Vinci Code,’ ‘Political Theology: The Case of Islam,’ and ‘Feminist Theology,’ said Blatty.
“In fact, as far as we know,” said Blatty, “there is not a single Theology professor at Georgetown with the mandatum license needed to teach Catholic theology. Not one!”
Last year, Cardinal Wuerl’s Archdiocesan newspaper wrote in an editorial 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.”
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For Immediate Release
Friday, May 31, 2013
Contact: Manuel A. Miranda
Blatty Submits Petition to Archbishop
ACADEMY AWARD WINNER TAKES
ON GEORGETOWN AS PROMISED
Exorcist Author Submits Petition of 1200 Alumni, Students, Faculty, Parents
to Address Repeated Scandals, Dissidence and Non-Compliance with Church Law
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 has delivered a “Petition” on behalf of more than 1200 alumni, students, parents, teachers, and other laity from around the world. The “Petition” prays that the Catholic Church will grant several remedies, including, if made necessary, the removal or suspension of top-ranked Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit in its fundraising and representations to applicants.
The Petition cites a Vatican Decree issued on July 11, 2012, at the request of the Archbishop of Lima, that ordered the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, a very prominent Latin American university, to cease calling itself “Catholic” and “Pontifical” while declaring that it continued to be ecclesiastical property and subject to the requirements of Church law.
On the order of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, based the decision on the university’s failure to comply with Ex corde Ecclesiae, the 1990 Apostolic Constitution for Catholic Universities and that the University of Lima persists “in continuing to orient its institutional initiatives according to standards that are inconsistent with the norms and morality of the Church.”
GeorgetownUniversity is, likewise, Church property legally entrusted to the Society of Jesus nearly 200 years ago and to a civil corporation that administers it. Georgetown also received a pontifical charter that has never been abrogated.
The Georgetown effort was first announced two months before the Peru decree, 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 graduation ceremony speaker in may 2013. Despite this and two petitions collecting almost 60,000 voices, Georgetown did not relent.
The editors of the Archdiocesan newspaper wrote in an editorial then 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, was being planned even before the Sebelius scandal.
“The Scandals that Georgetown has given to the faithful are too many to count, and too many to ignore any longer,” Blatty said.
“Today Georgetown is the Borgia university, reflecting more the spirit of Alexander VI, than of Archbishop John Carroll, John Henry Cardinal Newman, or Pope John Paul II. Georgetown hardly reflects that St. Ignatius who stood preaching in the pouring rains of Paris to stop young men from losing their souls for the sake of carnality,” Blatty said.
“After one year of work, the Petition we submit today is 198 pages, 476 footnotes, 91 appendices, 124 witness statements, a commissioned 120-page institutional audit of Georgetown, a sworn certification of facts, and a legal opinion. We have documented 23 years of Scandals and dissidence, over 100 Scandals in the most recent years alone,” said Manuel A Miranda, who has served as Blatty’s counsel.
“We have consulted with the best English and Spanish-speaking canon lawyers in the world. We are on very solid ground,” Miranda said.
“What is evident is that Georgetown University has been captured by the ideology of radical autonomy. It pervades everything,” Miranda said. “Academic freedom is now prisoner to intolerant new orthodoxies, and Catholic moral teaching has surrendered to the dictatorship of moral relativism,” he added.
When The Exorcist author announced the effort in May 2012 on the Father King Society website, he wrote: “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!”
“John Paul II exhorted us all to preserve for the Church the highest places of culture—our universities. We have all been negligent for too long,” Blatty wrote.
The Fr. King Society has worked with 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 smaller 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. Georgetown’s Jesuit president was called to Rome. Weeks later, the Univerity reversed itself. It was a success that reverberated as other universities announced defunding of similar clubs.
Manuel Miranda wrote the 1991 petition. “The new Canon Law effort is much larger in scale and consequences,” Miranda said.
# # #
From William Peter Blatty, GU’1950
I invite you today to join me and over 1000 members in The Father King Society to Make Georgetown Honest, Catholic, and Better by signing on to a very special effort here. I ask you also to curtail your donations to Georgetown University for one year.
The late Jesuit Father Thomas M. King was a good friend. I had the privilege of lecturing his theology class, which started the rumor that he had inspired my priestly character in The Exorcist. Father Kinginspired many other things; and our effort now.
On May 5, 2012, in a speech to American bishops, Pope Benedict XVI called on America’s Catholic universities to reaffirm their Catholic identity. The Pope noted the failure of many Catholic universities to comply with Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae. The Pope said that preservation of a university’s Catholic identity “entails much more than the teaching of religion or the mere presence of a chaplaincy on campus.”
For 21 years now, Georgetown University has refused to comply with Ex corde Ecclesiaie (“From The Heart of the Church”), and, therefore, with canon law. And, it seems as if every month GU gives another scandal to the faithful! The most recent is Georgetown’s obtuse invitation to Secretary Sebelius to be a commencement speaker.
Each of these scandals is proof of Georgetown’s non-compliance with Ex corde Ecclesiae and canon law. They are each inconsistent with a Catholic identity, and we all know it. A university in solidarity with the Church would not do these prideful things that do so much harm to our communion. (You can pen a heartfelt letter to the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington and the Holy Father offering your own experience here.)
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.
Father Tom King was actively involved and submitted an essay to be used in support of the canon law action. (We post it here.) Soon after the 1991 “GU Choice” funding, a meeting took place on campus that collected the students, teachers, alumni and parents who had reacted to the University’s scandal in diverse ways. Fr. King listened intently, and then the mild-speaking priest told us of a call the night before from his brother, also a priest. His brother had said, “Tom, you have to choose sometimes — either you fish or cut bait.” Father King told us that he had decided to fish. And now, at long last, so have I. I ask you to join us!
For almost two decades, The Cardinal Newman Society has pursued with true inspiration and devotion its unique ministry to strengthen Catholic higher education in America. We are very grateful that CNS has agreed to help us.
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. I invite you to sign the “Mandate of Procurator” on this website so that I, and other alumni, parents, teachers and students, may represent you in this special and historic Church petition.
Like many men of my generation, I owe much to the Jesuit fathers and to Georgetown University. My hard-working mother had faith that I could win a scholarship to attend Georgetown, a “rich boys’ school.” Georgetown gave me that scholarship, and I am ever- grateful. With it came a rich liberal education that included the keys of reason to unlock the mysteries of my Lebanese mother’s Faith.
Throughout an undeservedly wonderful life, I have been guided by the light of my Georgetown education, grounded firmly, as I knew it was even in my youth, in the unmatched intellectual wealth of the Catholic Church. Each time I faltered, as I often did, that guiding light never failed me.
What I owe Georgetown, however, is nothing as compared to what Georgetown owes to its founders and the Christ of Faith, and so it grieves me deeply that my beloved alma mater is failing so scandalously in its debt both to the Church and to the militant Jesuits still buried there who gave it their everything; who made it so special for so long. It grieves me that Georgetown University today almost seems to take pride in insulting the Church and offending the faithful.
In the meantime, should you suspect that mine are the quaint views of a wistful old man, if not a spry but cranky dinosaur, I invite you to read what Chiara Cardone, a 2010 GU graduate, wrote to me:
“Georgetown’s Catholic identity was one of the many outstanding attributes that appealed to me. After four informative but uninspiring years of public education, I was excited by the freedom of thought and the purposeful inquiry promised by a private, Catholic, liberal arts institution, unrestricted by contemporary fads in society, public policy and academia, not bound to inconsistent “conventional wisdom.” I sought a university engaged in the timeless pursuit of truth (that unfashionable but empowering claim that freedom and thought have a higher purpose), through the application of reason and rigorous scrutiny. I fully expected my opinions to be challenged, but I also expected my values to be respected.
Unfortunately, I found that Georgetown today lacks the integrity to consistently live the Catholic identity it claims. While faith and spirituality are embraced at Georgetown, they are respected only so long as they are either confined within the walls of Dahlgren Chapel, or diluted to appease the dictatorship of relativism which is sweeping our civilization. My Catholic manner of worship was always accepted, but my Catholic lifestyle and convictions were sometimes attacked by student organizations and staff members, themselves underpinned by tacit and even explicit university endorsement. Far beyond nuanced scrutiny or respectful debate, my convictions, especially those regarding the dignity of human life, were instead the subject of sweeping condemnation, even at university-sponsored events. My cultural identity was insulted; my intellectual autonomy and personal agency were denied in order to render my voice inconsequential. On those occasions I came to wonder why, at a Catholic institution, I was so ridiculed for my Catholicism. I sometimes felt betrayed by a campus culture which discouraged faithfulness, even while banners everywhere touted the ideal of “faith in action.”
Colin Cortes, a student at Georgetown currently, essentially agreed with Chiara and wrote: “It is time for Georgetown to decide whether it wants to be a Catholic institution….” Colin, I agree.
Georgetown is being dishonest. Together, we need to end that! In very recent years, Georgetown has even created the impression that its Jesuit tradition can stand apart from its Catholic identity. I am told that in on-campus debates, students will divide over favoring either Jesuit or Catholic! After eight years of Jesuit education, – when Jesuits and their reputation were one and the same – I shudder at this deception. The great Jesuit theologian Avery Dulles anticipated and admonished his fellow Jesuit educators over this fomented confusion: “To be Jesuit is merely to be more intensely Catholic,” he said. Of course.
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 (I accepted my John Carroll Medal too). We have all been negligent for too long: the laity, the clergy, and the bishops as well.
Please join me now in making Georgetown honest, Catholic and better!