The author of “The Exorcist” has filed a petition against the college where the plot takes place: Georgetown University. The nearly 200-page document written by William Peter Blatty says the college shouldn’t be considered Catholic anymore, citing the university’s failure to comply with certain guidelines and moral “scandals.”
The petition has 1,200 signatures from alumni, students, parents, teachers and other laity from around the world, according to a statement. Blatty, 85, points to “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” a Vatican decree issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990 that says Catholic universities and institutions require approval by “the Holy See, by an Episcopal Conference or another Assembly of Catholic Hierarchy or by a diocesan Bishop.” The decree outlines several characteristics that Catholic universities must have to be considered Catholic. Blatty argues that Georgetown University is violating a number of these.
“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!” Blatty wrote on the “Father King Society” website.
The petition reportedly has 198 pages, 476 footnotes, 91 appendices, 124 witness statements, a commissioned 120-page institutional audit of Georgetown, a sworn certification of facts, a legal opinion and 23 documented scandals.
Blatty’s initial checklist of ecclesiastical rules that Georgetown has allegedly broke has 11 items, including the university’s failure to follow the Catholic Church’s hiring policy, which says the number of non-Catholic teachers can’t outnumber Catholic ones. Blatty accuses the university of not submitting proper paperwork to ensure its Catholic status, failure to follow structure, regulations and moral teachings, among others.
The document outlines a list of moral “scandals” Georgetown has experienced from January 2011 onward. Blatty points to on-campus events such as the performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” the implementation of a “student-run group to improve availability of sexual health education on campus” and how openly gay U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a supporter of same-sex marriage and abortion rights, hosted Georgetown’s third annual Lavender Graduation for gay students. Blatty also chides the university for hosting other pro-choice politicians like President Barack Obama and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Some see Blatty’s petition as unfounded and sexist.
“Apparently, what ‘isn’t Catholic enough’ is anything that speaks to issues of human sexuality, open sexual education, sexual freedom, sexual orientation, reproductive rights, women’s right to choose, anything with the word ‘vagina,’ anything that has a vagina, even men who don’t prefer vaginas,” Lorraine Devon Wilke wrote in addictinginfo.org.
A spokesperson for Georgetown University told InsideHigherEd.com that they have not seen the complaint and cannot comment.