You think you’ve seen it all until you hear about Georgetown’s commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 18 at the Leavey Center Ballroom. The fiery protesters were posted at the entryways, exclamations echoed throughout the hall, and quotations from Kathleen Sebelius’s speech were pulled out of context repeatedly to portray whatever the user wished it to say. Sebelius knew she was walking into the lion’s den as soon as she was invited to speak at graduation, but no where near to the extent of what occurred in front of her very eyes.
Kathleen Sebelius is known for her role in implementing the health reform law requiring employers to cover the cost of contraceptives, a law leaders in the Catholic Church expressed concern about. As a Catholic university itself, Georgetown University is expected to act in compliance with the church and thus the action to invite Sebelius to speak at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute on Friday received a great amount of backlash from the Catholic community.
Maybe it was the heat wave, perhaps it was the passion that overtakes each viewer of traditional ceremonies, or could it have been the bagpipes that started it all? Each purveyor of the chaotic event will hold true to their own interpretation of the day, but what can be said is that people were not happy. To say that Sebelius’s presence at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute Tropaia was controversial does not even begin to account for what came next.
As the exclamations throughout the ballroom continued to echo off the walls, William Peter Blatty, author and Academy Award winning screenwriter of “The Exorcist,” was somewhere contemplating his move. As an alum of Georgetown and an avid supporter of Catholicism, Blatty was horrified by Georgetown University’s recognition of Sebelius, immediately filing a canon lawsuit against Georgetown University for its disregard of it’s Catholic identity. Rather than form a strongly worded letter, he took it upon himself to declare that disciplinary action must be taken against the university.
As a well respected alum of the university, Blatty is using his notoriety to his advantage with his formation of the Father King Society to Make Georgetown Honest, Catholic, and Better. The society is named for a former theology professor at Georgetown speculated to be the inspiration for a character in “The Exorcist.”
Blatty constructed a website for the society to enlist the help of the Georgetown community by backing the canon lawsuit he launched. He requests that members of the Georgetown community withhold their donations from the university for the duration of one year and join forces with Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of D.C. and Pope Benedict XVI. His main argument is that Georgetown has disregarded the “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” document, which created the framework of what is required of Catholic universities.
The plan is to head to the Archdiocese of Washington first and then on to the Vatican to storm Rome if necessary. As well constructed and thought out of a plan this is, the idea seems to be lacking one key thing, support. Though on the site’s comment section there has been some activity with a total of 42 comments, the lack of a transparent petition available with a list of the people who have signed lends to some skepticism about how well supported Blatty’s efforts truly are.
He does admit that “Georgetown is merely the leader of the pack” of schools that are not representing their Catholic identity in accordance with the “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” document, but his full blown attempt to decrease favorability of specifically Georgetown amongst its close knit community proves otherwise. As an alum, he still thanks Georgetown for his education, but finds “that Georgetown University today almost seems to take pride in insulting the Church and offending the faithful.”
Claiming that the Father King Society planned their court case prior to the Sebelius debacle due to violations of the “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” document in the months prior, Blatty has taken this opportunity of media exposure focused on Sebelius to his advantage to pursue his canon lawsuit against Georgetown.
Legal action will most likely not occur for months to come, but according to Blatty, Catholic education is well worth the effort and time necessary to further the process and succeed in condemning Georgetown for its deviance from Catholic university statutes.
[Image via MyMassiveMovieBlog]