Father Orsi: Precedent for Blatty's Canon Law Lawsuit
May 29, 2012, at 1:27 PM
By Matthew Archbold |
While some might think that the canon law lawsuit that Exorcist
author William Peter Blatty and The Father King Society are preparing against Georgetown University is a bit unusual, Father Michael Orsi, the Chaplain and Research Fellow in Law & Religion at the Ave Maria School of Law, says there is plenty of precedent.
The suit, on which The Cardinal Newman Society is advising, will petition the Catholic Church for remedies up to and including the possible removal or suspension of Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic or Jesuit in its fundraising and representations to applicants.
Fr. Orsi spoke to legal writer Michael Tremoglie
about the suit:
"Catholic theologians are given a mandatum by the bishops of the dioceses that they are qualified to teach Catholic theology," he said. The rulebook for this is Ex corde Ecclesiae, an order issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990. It defined what Catholicism means for Catholic universities. All educational facilities must have the endorsement of the local bishop.
"The other side of it is the bishop can remove a Catholic theologian," Orsi said. He mentioned two instances where this was done. One was the case of Father Charles Curran, a theologian at the Catholic University of America. He taught about subjects that were considered antipodal to Catholic teachings. He was determined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to be ineligible to be a professor of Catholic theology and was fired from his teaching position in 1986. The Congregation was run by then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. The other cited by Orsi was more recent. St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix was stripped of its "Catholic" appellation in December 2010. Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted issued a decree dissolving the hospital's affiliation with the Catholic Church. He wrote in his decree that he could not confirm the hospital was providing its services in line with Catholic precepts.
"It is not done enough," Orsi said.
If Blatty's lawsuit moves forward, a brief will be presented to the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. He must make the determination that Georgetown no longer conducts itself as a Catholic university should. "Georgetown, of course, will say they have Mass, they have the Knights of Columbus on campus," Orsi said. "This will be their attempt to say they are Catholic. They will say that allowing Sebelius was merely an expression of free speech on campus."
Blatty is also asking fellow alumni and others to curtail donating to Georgetown for one year as well as sign a petition to join the lawsuit, at gupetion.org.
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