Requiescat In Pace: William Peter Blatty

Saturday, January 14, AD 2017


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


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9 Responses to Requiescat In Pace: William Peter Blatty

  • A very depressing movie. In the end Satan wins, two dead priests and the family rejects God.

  • “In the end Satan wins, two dead priests and the family rejects God”

    All isn’t always as it seems….Satan never wins.

  • It showed the devil as ugly and evil; priests as having power through Christ; and was rebuke to the “oh so sophisticated” brand of post-conciliar Catholicism which was embarrassed by the devil (Fr. Damien and the piano-playing socialite Jesuit priest were dismissive of the idea of possession), it took an old-school Jebbie to come along and show the modern cynical priest the truth. I think it’s a great modern parable of faith vs. worldly unbelief.

  • Neither read the movie nor saw the book. RIP. Ora pro nobis.

    I have read “Possessed,” a 1993 book by Thomas B. Allen which recounts the true story behind “The Exorcist.” I thought it was good.

  • In the comic section of our Sunday paper, my favorite section, Opus once ordered two thousand nine hundred and sixty two Salad Shooters from Ronco. That’s the type of person who sits terrified thru demon-involved Glitterati assembly=line ( I can’t think of any more adjectives ) movies. Timothy R.

  • As a definitely naive youth attending St Louis University in the last 1970’s, one of the Jesuits one day pointed out to me the now-venerable but still quite impressive-looking Fr. William S. Bowdern, SJ, (d. Apr 25, 1983) as “The Exorcist” (principal exorcist) of the now-perhaps near-legendary 1949 “St Louis Case”. What stayed with me about Fr. Bowdern —whether I had known or not that he was “The Exorcist” —was that he conveyed a rare sense of great spiritual gravity about him, even the impression in his appearance of being of greater-than-average-height (even though he probably was only about 5′ 11″ or so) and great bearing in his slender frame, also an ascetic and profound gravity about him on the occasions I saw him outside Jesuit Hall at SLU, or at St Francis Xavier “College Church” on the campus, the latter a neo-Irish Gothic structure on the campus, at the rectory of which the exorcisms were conducted during the several months of exorcizing “Roland Doe” (one of the AKA’s of the possessed boy that was brought to the St Louis University Jesuits for help).

    I have only been around a few extraordinary Catholic priests in my life that had a “presence” that got your attention: Fr. Bowdern was one that I will never forget.

  • And I guess I have to say that I never bother to see the movie “The Exorcist” because I was pretty well-informed by some primary sources then among the St. Louis University Jesuits, who [then] were an impressive lot, about “the real exorcist” and the real case. One of the then-scholastics who were burly enough to hold down the boy (one on each limb) and were sometimes tossed flying by him, said that people don’t realize how exhausting exorcisms are—they go on for weeks, months, even into years—just about every evening (when things were quieter and the rectory door could be locked to keep matters away from ordinary typical daily parish business). It was physically and mentally exhausting, and just when things would calm down, the boredom would be ignited by a few minutes of extraordinary terror.

    However, the good side did win in the end, according to the real witnesses, unlike the contradictory outcome of the movie.

  • As to “reader’s” comment above regarding the book by Thomas B. Allen (“Possessed”), I would not consider his “take” on the matter as credible: he has an [atheist] axe to grind, I believe, and doesn’t think there could be anything supernatural going on in the St Louis –or any–Case. Allen interviewed the few still-living individuals, including Fr. Walter Halloran (d. 2005), a burly ex-football player who helped to hold down the boy—but Fr. Halloran was diffident with Allen about concluding anything supernatural occurred. However,that was typical, in my view, for Fr. Halloran.

    [ Fr. Halloran reportedly said, “No, I can’t go on record, I never made an absolute statement about the things because I didn’t feel I was qualified.” That was perfect for Allen’s pre-established rationalist atheist narrative. Those who cant admit the possibility of God and a warfare with a personal evil will always be confirmed in their pre-conceived results. Congratulations.]

  • And the Lord lamented, “My people perish from lack of knowledge”. Hosea 4:6 Timothy R.

Georgetown: the Anti-Catholic Catholic University

Monday, May 21, AD 2012

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:

Dear Friends,

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.

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3 Responses to Georgetown: the Anti-Catholic Catholic University

  • This is a sad article for me. I didn’t realize that Father King had passed away. He was a good priest. He was one of those old people who can relate to the young in a natural way. He had a taste for Teilhard that I never understood, but he was as orthodox as the day is long.

    I remember one day when I and three other guys were the only attendees at a Mass of his. There was a point in the text where he was supposed to make a reference to “brothers and sisters”. He said “brothers”. I got such a kick out of that.

    For so long it’s been a truism that most Jesuits are unimpressive, but the good ones are fantastic. I hope the order has seen an influx of new, devout priests the way some other institutions have. It’d be a tremendous loss if the last pillars of Jesuit greatness disappear and go unreplaced.

  • It is sad how at a so called catholic university you get kicked out of a room for calling out a tyrant murderer. It is a lot more like the fake catholic church in China which is in accord with the government and calls itself catholic but is not in accordance with the Vicar of Christ. Liars need to be pointed out and cleared from the ranks.

  • As a member of the class of ’62 I just skipped my 50th Reunion for all of the reasons stated by Mr. Blatty. I believed that I would have been a hypocrite to attend and appear by my presence to be tacitly condoning Georgetown’s steady march to the ‘dark side’. My only comment to my friends is that “Georgetown has lost its soul”