'The Exorcist' author petitions Georgetown University to be more Catholic

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Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic University in the United States, founded more than 200 years ago by Jesuit priests. But one of the university's most famous alumni, William Peter Blatty, the Academy Award-winning author of "The Exorcist," doesn't think the school is particularly Catholic anymore.

Because of this, on May 31, Blatty and a group of over 1200 others in the Father King Society to Make Georgetown Honest delivered a petition to the Archdiocese of Washington, requesting that Georgetown either comply with Church doctrine or that the university no longer be called "Catholic."

According to Manuel A. Miranda, the legal counsel involved in the petition, it contains "198 pages, 476 footnotes, 91 appendices, 124 witness statements, a commissioned 120-page institutional audit of Georgetown, a sworn certification of facts, and legal opinion." The petition also details more than 100 alleged scandals from the past two decades.

What is the argument being made here? Blatty and the petition cite Pope John Paul II's 1991 decree, the Ex Corde Ecclesiae. In it, the former Pope said that Catholic universities should uphold the values of the faith, not just teach theology.

The timing of this petition seems to have coincided with the invitation of Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, as the 2013 graduation speaker. Petitioners opposed to this choice (because of her pro-choice stance on abortion) collected 60,000 signatures in protest. Sebelius still spoke.

As the biggest celebrity involved with the cause, Blatty included a personal letter in the petition. "Georgetown is being dishonest. Together, we need to end that!" Blatty, a member of the Georgetown class of 1950, wrote. "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."

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