Kirsten Andersen


Vatican says ‘Exorcist’ author’s complaints about scandals at Georgetown U are ‘well-founded’

Kirsten Andersen

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 14, 2014 ( – Approximately one year after filing a canonical lawsuit against Georgetown University for what he described as “23 years of scandals and dissidence” at the Roman Catholic institution, Exorcist author William Peter Blatty has finally received a response from the Vatican, in which the archbishop tasked with overseeing Catholic education admitted Blatty’s concerns were “well-founded.”

Blatty filed his petition last June on behalf of himself and 2,000 Georgetown alumni, parents, students, faculty and other concerned Catholics, accusing the school of failing to comply with Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the 1990 Apostolic Constitution for Catholic universities that demands church-affiliated institutions of higher learning promote and defend Catholic doctrine. 

Blatty urged the Vatican to either force Georgetown to comply with Catholic teaching on matters of faith and morals, or strip it of its Catholic identity.

In a response letter dated April 4, Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, said his office was unable to take direct disciplinary action against the university.  However, he said that Blatty’s concerns were “well-founded” and warranted further investigation.

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

Blatty’s complaints against the school were wide-ranging.  In a statement announcing the canonical suit, his attorney Manuel Miranda said the petition submitted to Pope Francis was “more than 200 pages and contains more than 480 footnotes, 99 appendices, 124 witness statements, and a commissioned 120-page institutional audit of Georgetown. We have documented 23 years of Scandals and dissidence, more than 100 Scandals in the most recent years alone.” 

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At the time, Blatty said the scandal that pushed him over the edge was the invitation of then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to speak at Georgetown’s graduation.  Sebelius, while Catholic, is an ardent supporter of legalized abortion who advocated for notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller in the 1990s and even invited him to the Governor’s Mansion during her tenure as governor of Kansas. 

As HHS Secretary, she was responsible for issuing the controversial birth control mandate that required Catholic institutions like Georgetown to provide full, co-pay free coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs.

“It grieves me deeply that my beloved alma mater is failing so scandalously in its debt both to the Church and to the militant Jesuits still buried there who gave it their everything; who made it so special for so long,” Blatty said at the time.  “It grieves me that Georgetown University today almost seems to take pride in insulting the Church and offending the faithful.”

Blatty told the National Catholic Register he was “deeply gratified” by the response from the Vatican. “There is still more work to be done, and I promise … that we will persevere.”

Attorney Miranda told NCR, “We looked to the law of the Church, and we applied the facts. The Vatican has accepted our complaint as well-founded.”

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