Vatican actually taking Blatty petition seriously, pledges to review its grievances
Update (2:15 p.m.) In response to a request for comment, University Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh wrote in an email to Vox that Georgetown has received no formal correspondence from the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Washington, or the Society of Jesus about the petition.
“In the past month we have been proud to partner with the Vatican and the Archdiocese of Washington to promote our shared Catholic identity through major cultural events – most recently a concert last week celebrating the sainthood of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII and a three day cultural conference, which was the Vatican’s first Courtyard of the Gentiles event in the United States,” Pugh wrote. Additionally, Pugh stressed Georgetown’s theology requirement for all undergraduate students, its campus ministry community (the largest in the country), and the numerous Catholic services held every Sunday.
In a letter dated April 4 (the mail must be very slow in the Vatican), Archbishop Angelo Zani, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, officially responded to a petition, organized by William Blatty (COL ’50), to review and remove Georgetown’s official status as a Catholic university. Although Zani went as far to describe Blatty’s petition as a “well-founded complaint,” the Vatican has chosen not to take Georgetown down the path of “hierarchical recourse” but will work with the Society of Jesus to address Blatty’s concerns.
Blatty, author of The Exorcist, began petitioning the Church to review and revoke Georgetown’s Catholic status two years ago. His online petition has garnered over 2,000 signatures and claims that Georgetown is not in accordance with Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Church’s set of requirements for Catholic universities.
Blatty’s “GU non-compliance checklist” is long and redundant, but, essentially, boils down to the fact that he believes that Georgetown supports views and organizations which directly contradict Catholic moral teaching.
Blatty and his lawyer, Manuel Miranda (SFS ’82), are spinning the Vatican’s response as a victory and affirmation of their views.
“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,” Miranda wrote.
“We petitioned the Vatican, as Pope Francis has invited the Laity to do, and made known our needs,” Miranda wrote. “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.”
The Congregation for Catholic Education, however, has chosen not to invoke the hierarchical recourse against Georgetown and will, instead, use a more informal process of review that will work with the Jesuits.
Miranda and Blatty are hoping that Pope Francis and his appointees will finally act on the petition’s complaints.
Francis may be outrageously awesome and inviting, but, in July, 2012, he followed-up on the actions of his pontifical predecessor and stripped the University of Peru of its official Catholic status for its years of non-compliance with Ex corde Ecclesiae.
Vox doubts that Georgetown will be the next to be exorcised of its Catholicism, but that’s certainly one possibility. Given the Church’s typical pace for getting stuff done, the Class of 2065 could be the first non-Catholic graduating class in Georgetown’s history.
For more on the debate over Georgetown’s Catholic identity, check out the Voice‘s feature on the topic from this past winter.
Photo: Alyson Hurt via Flickr