A canon law petition backed by the author of The Exorcist that challenges Georgetown University's behavior as a Catholic institution has been submitted to Pope Francis.
More than 2,000 Catholics signed the petition submitted by William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist and the Academy Award-winning screenplay based on the novel, according to a press release. Blatty graduated from Georgetown, which is located in Washington D.C., in 1950.
The petition says the university has failed to fully comply with church law for more than 20 years by not implementing Ex corde Ecclessiae, a papal constitution instituted by Pope John Paul II for Catholic universities. It also claims this failure has led to "deviations from authentic doctrinal and moral teachings" and "a long series of Scandals to the faithful through actions inconsistent with a Catholic identity," among other accusations.
The Father King Society, the group leading the petition effort, says if Georgetown doesn't make changes the church may need to, as a last resort, suspend or remove the university's right to call itself "Catholic" or "Jesuit." The petition was sent to the Vatican after the Archdiocese of Washington gave it the "green light," according to the press release.
"The very first remedy that we asked of His Eminence, [Archbishop of Washington] Donald Cardinal Wuerl, was: If the Holy Spirit leads you to it and your conscience will allow it, to declare publicly that Georgetown University is compliant with Ex corde Ecclesiae, orients its institutional initiatives according to standards that are consistent with the norms and morality of the Church, and lives up to the title 'Catholic,'" said Blatty in a statement. "His Eminence opted not to do that."
Manuel A. Miranda, who serves as Blatty's counsel, says the more than 200-page petition includes a 120-page institutional audit of the university and addresses more than 100 "scandals" that have occurred in recent years.
"Georgetown University has been captured by the ideology of radical autonomy. It pervades everything. Academic freedom is now prisoner to intolerant new orthodoxies, and Catholic moral teaching has surrendered to the dictatorship of moral relativism," said Miranda in a statement.
Georgetown is accused of "scandals" such as inviting pro-abortion politicians, including President Barack Obama, to speak at university events and being one of the few American Catholic colleges in recent years to host performances of "The Vagina Monologues."
The Father King Society also claims Georgetown has failed "to guarantee its Catholic identity in its structure and identity," among other things, though a university spokesperson disagrees.
"Our Catholic and Jesuit identity on campus has never been stronger," wrote Rachel Pugh, director of media relations for Georgetown, in an email to The Christian Post.
"Academically, we remain committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition," she continued. "All undergraduate students, for example, take two semesters of theology and two semesters of philosophy before graduation. Georgetown supports the largest campus ministry in the country. On Sundays, we offer as many as seven Masses in Dahlgren Chapel, one of five Catholic chapels on our campuses. And we are proud of the countless ways that our students put their faith into action through service and justice programs."
Georgetown was founded in 1789 by Archbishop John Carroll. It is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in the United States.