William Peter Blatty, the Academy Award winning author of "The Exorcist," has filed a petition with the Washington D.C. archdiocese to have the term "Catholic" removed from Georgetown University's status and label, citing "rampant abuses of Catholic identity" and growing secularism at the school.
The petition, which was filed in late May, states it is being delivered on behalf of 1,200 alumni, students, faculty, and parents to address "repeated scandals, dissidence and non-compliance with church law."
The New York City born Blatty, a Georgetown alumni, has compiled a list of complaints over the past year which is featured on the 198-page complaint that contains 476 footnotes, and 124 witness statements the petition states.
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"The Scandals that Georgetown has given to the faithful are too many to count, and too many to ignore any longer," Blatty said in the petition.
"What is evident is that Georgetown University has been captured by the ideology of radical autonomy. It pervades everything," said Manuel Miranda, who has served as Blatty’s counsel in writing the petition. "Academic freedom is now prisoner to intolerant new orthodoxies, and Catholic moral teaching has surrendered to the dictatorship of moral relativism."
The petition was initiated on May 5, 2012, with a letter penned by Blatty in which he wrote to concerned Catholics with ties to Georgetown and asked for their support "to make Georgetown honest, Catholic, and better."
"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," Blatty said in the original letter that accompanied the petition. "Together, we need to end that!"
According to Miranda, he and Blatty have "documented 23 years of scandals and dissidence, [and] over 100 scandals in the most recent years alone," in the petition to Washington, D.C. Archbishop Donald Wuerl.
Blatty is appealing to Pope John Paul II's Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which translates to "From the Heart of the Church," and is an official Church document that requires each Catholic university to uphold Church teachings through its programs and professors in order to receive their local bishop's approval.
Wuerl could technically remove the title "Catholic" from Georgetown's description.
Among its criticism, the petition cites: "failure to invite respect of Catholic doctrine and morals," "failure to recruit personnel both willing and able to promote Catholic identity," "failure to guarantee its Catholic identity in its structure and regulations."
Specifically, the petition's complaints include the school's decision to host the "the vile play 'The Vagina Monologues'," and give speaking engagements to pro-choice Catholics HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Nancy Pelosi.
"It grieves me deeply that my beloved alma mater is failing so scandalously in its debt both to the Church and to the militant Jesuits still buried there who gave it their everything; who made it so special for so long," Blatty said in the letter. "It grieves me that Georgetown University today almost seems to take pride in insulting the Church and offending the faithful."
In response to the petition, Georgetown director of communications, Rachel Pugh, defended the school to local reporters, the Huffington Post reported.
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"All undergraduate students, for example, take two semesters of theology and two semesters of philosophy before graduation," said Pugh. "Georgetown supports the largest ministry in the country."
The Washington D.C. Archdiocese has not weighed in on the petition yet.
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