Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Vatican Responds to Blatty Petition

The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education responded to a petition requesting that Georgetown University be stripped of its Catholic and Jesuit identity with a denial of the appeal for hierarchical recourse last month, the National Catholic Register reported Monday. The petition, which garnered over 2,000 signatures, was filed with the Vatican by “The Exorcist” author William Peter Blatty (C ’50) last October.

Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, the secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, wrote in an April 4 response to the petitioners that the Vatican will not go through with the strict legal process of hierarchical recourse, as the petition demanded, although it will work in conjunction with the Society of Jesus to address petitioners’ concerns.

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

The petition urged Pope Francis to require that Georgetown comply with Ex Corde Ecclesiae, a 1990 Catholic decree that requires each Catholic university to teach in communion with the Church in order to maintain its identity as a Catholic university.

Prior to petitioning the Vatican, Blatty sent a similar appeal to Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington last May.

“The exercise of the authority vested in Your Eminence … to remove the privilege of Georgetown University to represent itself as ‘Catholic’ is now required,” Blatty wrote in the petition, which was released to The Hoya by Manuel Miranda (SFS ’82), Blatty’s counsel and press contact.

Blatty and other petitioners have responded favorably to Zani’s letter, according to Miranda.

“We’re very happy. … We laid out the facts and applied the law and what the Congregation for Catholic Education found is that we established a well-founded complaint deserving of their response,” Miranda said.

Although the Vatican denied requests for hierarchical recourse, Miranda said he feels confident that the concerns raised by the petition will be addressed.

“[Hierarchical recourse] is a path that gets you certain results and also gives you the benefit of certain timelines. They said that they would not go down that path,” Miranda said. “Instead … they’re going to go down another path, a more flexible path. Since we’ve established a well-founded complaint, they now have to go down some path, and they’re choosing to go down a path of direct implementation with regard to the authority … which is the Society of Jesus.”

According to Miranda, the exact steps that the Vatican will take and a specific timeline are still unclear.

Despite the disapproval expressed in the petition, Georgetown Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh affirmed Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit identity, noting the two theology requirements in the undergraduate curriculum, the number of on-campus masses and the size of the campus ministry.

“We are proud of the countless ways that our students put their faith into action through service and justice programs,” Pugh wrote in an email.

Additionally, the university partnered with the Vatican and the Archdiocese of Washington earlier this month to host a concert celebrating the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII.

Although Zani responded to the petition to the Vatican over a month ago, the National Catholic Register was the first to report the letter, on Monday, with Blatty and Miranda eschewing publicizing the petition.

“Because we’ve been involved in personal discussions with officials at the Vatican, we weren’t really interested in getting a lot of public attention,” Miranda said.

According to Pugh, the university has received no formal correspondence from the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Washington or the Society of Jesus regarding the petition or Zani’s response to the petition.

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  • T

    thegemini7May 14, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    “Dead in the water,” E.S.?Don’t look now but you are standing directly over a trap door.

  • E

    E.S.May 14, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    “Because we were told over a month ago that this petition was dead in the water, we weren’t really interested in getting a lot of public attention,” Miranda said. ‘I hate public attention,” he added. “Hate it, hate it, hate it. That’s ‘Miranda’ with an ‘M’.”