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‘Exorcist’ author to sue Georgetown University in Catholic court

By Daniel Burke Religion News Service

The author who turned Georgetown University into a horror scene in “The Exorcist” plans to sue the school in church court, charging that his alma mater has strayed so far from church doctrine that it should no longer call itself Catholic.

William Peter Blatty, who graduated from Georgetown in 1950, says the “last straw” was the university’s speaking invitation to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius, who addressed graduating public policy students on Friday (May 18), has been criticized by conservative Catholics for approving a mandate that requires many religious institutions to cover employees’ birth control costs. The Archdiocese of Washington called the Sebelius invitation “shocking.”

Blatty, 85, credits a Georgetown scholarship with fostering his writing career, which includes an Academy Award for “The Exorcist,” a blockbuster based on his best-selling 1971 novel. In the book and movie, a Jesuit priest at Georgetown, the nation’s oldest Catholic university, struggles to save a demon-possessed girl. Now retired, Blatty lives in Bethesda, Md.

“What I owe Georgetown, however, is nothing as compared to what Georgetown owes to its founders and the Christ of faith,” Blatty said in a statement.

The author says that Georgetown has violated church teaching for decades by inviting speakers who support abortion rights and refusing to obey instructions the late Pope John Paul II issued in 1990 to church-affiliated colleges and universities.

Georgetown should amend its ways or stop calling itself a Catholic or Jesuit institution, Blatty said.

A media spokesperson for Georgetown did not respond Friday to a request for comment. On its website, the university says, “Catholicism’s rich and diverse intellectual tradition is central to Georgetown’s academic life.”

In response to criticism of the Sebelius speech, Georgetown president John J. DeGioia said this week that the university is “committed to the free exchange of ideas” even if it does not agree with all of them.

Blatty’s “indictment” against Georgetown charges the school with failing to recruit Catholic teachers and students, neglecting to instruct students in Catholic morality and failing to act in accord with church doctrine. He expects the suit to be filed in the Archdiocese of Washington’s court of canon law this fall.

Blatty recently founded The Father King Society, named after a former Georgetown theology professor, to enlist fellow alumni in his cause.

A similar church suit was brought against Georgetown in 1991 for authorizing university funding for a student group that supported abortion rights. According to Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly, the case reached the Vatican before Georgetown agreed not to fund the group.

The conservative Cardinal Newman Society has assisted Blatty’s cause.


  1. Anonymous12:25 AM

    Georgetown and The Exorcist ,two horror stories!

  2. Ah... just like ancient time... when appeal to an emperor happened much.

    Eastern cleric used to do that a lot.

  3. Sunshine State12:30 AM

    A man shouldn't throw stones when they live in a glass house. His book was the basis for a very offensive movie, which opened the door to even more graphic, violent, and offensive horror films. What a joke. Leave Georgetown alone and get your own house in order.

  4. Anonymous12:35 AM

    Normally don't allow anonymous comments but that is hysterical

  5. Francis12:36 AM

    Georgetown needs an exorcism.

  6. Jack O'Malley12:58 AM

    Francis is right.

    But if the exorcism fails it means Georgetown needs an interdict.

    As does Boston College. And the whole archdiocese of Boston while we're at it.

    Rosaries and novenas for the FSSPX continuing ...

  7. Bonifacius3:06 AM

    In response to Sunshine State, "The Exorcist" records an offensive reality. It defends the Catholic Faith and shows Christ defeating a demon. I know an exorcist priest and he confirmed that it is a good movie on the topic.

  8. Well, at least Notre Dame has a priest still as president, and a GOOD one at that!

  9. sunshine said..."A man shouldn't throw stones when they live in a glass house. His book was the basis for a very offensive movie, which opened the door to even more graphic, violent, and offensive horror films. What a joke. Leave Georgetown alone and get your own house in order."

    The novel is actually very catholic, have you read it? He is a devout catholic, so why are you throwing stones at him? Let he without sin cast....(we all live in glass houses)

    He is trying to do something good for the Church, there is no need to criticize him. Thank you Mr. Blatty for being proactive.

  10. The key word in the affair is "diverse" - the University is clearly of the post-conciliar liberal modernist philosophy. Thgis is similar to the one found in the modern church. The church opened itself to the world and so did all once Roman catholic educational institutions. Pluralism and diversity are the watchword. Ecumenical and interrligious "dialogue" predominate. It is doubtful if the church would make any criticism of such a position adopted by Georgetown. Rome does exactly the same. Where is the difference, honestly?

  11. Peterman12:04 PM

    When I lived in DC I used to jog up the long steep stairs at the back of Gtown U which I was told was in the folm. The place became some sort of a Satanist focal point with graffiti written on the walls.

    Indeed it is kind of creepy there, a traditional priest probably needs to go there and says some prayers and sprinkle some holy water.

  12. Manfred2:33 PM

    One fact which sustains me through the last forty years is that it was the Holy Roman Emperor who issued the ultimatum to the Church to clear up the issues brought by the Protestant rebellion. His concern was antinomianism-the complete breakdown of the social-commercial fabric in the Empire. This resulted in the Diet of Worms and the Council of Trent. The precedent for this, of course, was Constantine ordering the bishops to his summer villa in Nicea to clear up the Catholic-Arian controversy. Catholic bishops respond when an ADULT MAN orders them to do something. Otherwise, issues languish for decades as the last fifty years demonstrate.

  13. rodrigo2:33 PM

    I once heard "optimism" defined as ordering a Long Island Iced Tea with champagne in place of cola. I think we have a new definition: initiating a canonical process at the age of 85!

    Still, kudos to Blatty - whose theological vision as expressed in his works is probably a little too Teilhardian to warrant unqualified praise from trads - for taking the initiative.

  14. Peasoup4:41 PM

    The headline turned my head.

  15. It should be kept in mind, of course, that neither Emperor Constantine nor Emperor Charles ordered or issued ultimatums to the Church -- and if they had, such directives would have had no force under divine law, since secular princes and lay Catholics do not have the ability to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

  16. Not surprising, given its track record, that Religion News Service sees this purely as a matter of U.S. politics. Plenty of references to "conservative" Catholics, when in fact these are "orthodox" or "faithful" Catholics. Typical leftist/modernistic U.S. media blindness to religion, particularly the true religion.

  17. Sunshine State:

    "Very offensive." ROFLOL.

    Really, your fragile sensibilities worry me. Perhaps playing on the internet freeway is a bit risky for you. But not nearly as risky as being taught anything of eternal consequence Georgetown, believe me. Bring it on, Mr. Blatty, bring it on!


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