'Exorcist' Author Gets Vatican Response on Georgetown Petition

Thursday, 15 May 2014 04:24 PM

By Lisa Degnen

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Author William Peter Blatty has been told by the Vatican that it is looking into his "well-founded" request to have  Georgetown University’s label as a Catholic College removed.

Blatty, whose most famous book is "The Exorcist," is an alumnus of the Washington, D.C. Jesuit university. Last year he sent a petition to Rome with 2,000 signatures, asking that the Church “require that Georgetown implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae, a papal constitution governing Catholic colleges." That document outlines instructions for how Catholic schools and universities should conduct themselves. One of those tenets calls for: "fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church."

On April 4 Blatty received a letter from Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, the secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, who said he was looking into the matter, The Huffington Post reports.

“Your communications to this dicastery in the matter of Georgetown University … constitute a well-founded complaint,” Archbishop Zani wrote.” Our congregation is taking the issue seriously and is cooperating with the Society of Jesus in this regard.”

Blatty and other Catholics feel the university is not following the Ex Corde Ecclesiae rules, first released by Pope John Paul II in 1990.

"I am deeply gratified that the prayers of my 2,000 fellow petitioners have been answered,” Blatty said after receiving the letter, Huffington Post reports. “There is still more work to be done, and I promise them that we will persevere."

But Rachel Pugh, a Georgetown University spokesperson, dismisses Blatty's claims.

"Catholic and Jesuit identity on campus has never been stronger," she said, according to Huffington Post. "Academically, we remain committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition."

Blatty, who won an Academy Award for screenplay for the film version of "The Exorcist," was raised by a strict Catholic mother. He attended the Jesuit school Brooklyn Preparatory before heading off to Georgetown.

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