William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty died this week at age 89. He had a long career as a screenwriter and an author. Despite his multiple marriages, his latest in 1983 and which would last to his death, Blatty remained a Catholic and in the latter part of his life a fervent one. Best known as the author of The Exorcist Blatty often complained that the work was misunderstood. He viewed its themes as being that there is a God and that the universe has a happy ending. Most recently, he spearheaded a drive to have the Vatican find that Georgetown University, his alma mater, was in violation of its papal charter. The Vatican in 2014 stated that the petition sent in by Blatty was well founded and then promptly did nothing.
“There it lies, I think, Damien … possession; not in wars, as some tend to believe; not so much; and very rarely in extraordinary interventions such as here … this girl … this poor child. No, I tend to see possession most often in the little things, Damien: in the senseless, petty spites and misunderstandings; the cruel and cutting word that leaps unbidden to the tongue between friends. Between lovers. Between husbands and wives. Enough of these and we have no need of Satan to manage our wars; these we manage for ourselves … for ourselves.”
William Peter Blatty, Father Lankester Merrin in The Exorcist
William Peter Blatty, well-known novelist, author of the Exorcist, a Georgetown graduate, class of 1950, is spearheading an effort to force Georgetown to reform, or to cease to call itself Catholic. Here is his letter:
I invite you today to join me 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 King inspired 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. CNS has agreed to help us. Likewise, the St. Joseph’s Foundation, a Texas charity that focuses on canon law, has been a source of valuable information. We appreciate the help of both apostolates.
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. Continue reading