In response to Georgetown University alumni, faculty and students who have raised concerns about Georgetown University’s Catholic identity, a Vatican official promised action and described the complaint—which was built upon evidence compiled by The Cardinal Newman Society—to be “well-founded” and deserving the Vatican’s attention.
Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, sent his remarks in response to a canon law petition organized by William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist and a Georgetown alumnus. Blatty’s organization, the Father King Society, compiled 2,000 signatures in support of the petition, which asked the Church to require Georgetown to implement Ex corde Ecclesiae, the apostolic constitution on Catholic colleges and universities.
Archbishop Zani responded, “Your communications to this dicastery in the matter of Georgetown University… constitute a well-founded complaint,” according to the Father King Society.
However, the Archbishop also stated, according to the National Catholic Register, that technical impediments prevented the Congregation from taking “hierarchic recourse” in the present case, but it is “taking the issue seriously and is cooperating with the Society of Jesus.”
A Father King Society Press release said:
“The Congregation chose against going down the legal path of ‘hierarchic recourse.’ This was a particular path based in the Code of Canon Law that we suggested. Instead, they are choosing to deal with Georgetown’s serious violations of Ex corde Ecclesiae based on our complaint on their own plenary authority. The Church presently has all the authority it needs to order Georgetown to comply. We asked for ‘hierarchic recourse’ as a right that the faithful have. The Vatican is telling us that this is not necessary for them to pursue our ‘well-founded complaint’ to its end. They are telling us that we made our case and that they are sufficiently alarmed and will now take it from here,” [Blatty’s lawyer Manuel] Miranda said.
The petition included multiple testimonies and was built around a 116-page dossier of evidence of scandals at Georgetown University, which was researched and compiled by The Cardinal Newman Society. Archdiocese of Washington spokesman Chieko Noguchi told The Washington Post that Cardinal Donald Wuerl “has not been involved in the preparation of the petition nor the process undertaken to challenge the Catholic identity of Georgetown University.” But the petition was originally submitted to Cardinal Wuerl, and it was the Archdiocese that encouraged the Father King Society to send the petition to the Vatican.
In an interview with the Register, Blatty said that he is hopeful that the petition and the Congregation’s response will eventually lead to a strengthening of Georgetown’s Catholic identity. "I am deeply gratified that the prayers of my two thousand fellow Petitioners have been answered,” Blatty reportedly said. “There is still more work to be done, and I promise them that we will persevere.”
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