A History of TGA (1 of 8)

Exclusive to TGA, we are republishing in eight parts a portion of the petition memorandum sent to Rome by Georgetown alumnus William Peter Blatty.  This is the first time any portion of the petition has seen publication and it chronicles 23 years of students’ calls for Catholic identity, as reflected in the pages of The Georgetown Academy since 1990.  

We encourage you to read our introduction to the series and learn more about the petition by visiting the website of The Father King Society.




While American bishops and college presidents have been courting each other over the implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae (ECE) and checking the box with polite conversations, over the past 23 years since the promulgation of Ex corde in 1990, the students of Georgetown University have been engaged in a 23 year struggle to follow John Paul II and preserve for the Church the highest places of culture.  They are the only ones to have provided a constant vigilance and leadership with the few resources they have, sometime at great personal cost. 

Remarkably, one Georgetown student publication, The Georgetown Academy (“TGA”), established in 1990, provides a near perfect record of Georgetown’s dissidence and willful failure to avoid ECE and its emboldened effort to offer a counter magisterium.  

The Scandals documented on TGA’s pages, 23 years of them, are also the undeniable proof of Georgetown’s non-compliance with Ex corde Ecclesiae.

A TGA editor once welcomed new students by noting that in TGA’s pages the word “Catholic” would be found more times in one issue than in all other Georgetown publications combined, in one entire year. [1]   In fact, TGA sparked and led all the pro-Catholic efforts that made Georgetown famous in the 1990s and early 2000s. With TGA’s disinfectant sunshine on Georgetown decisions, the collapse we now see in the “DeGioia years” would have come ten years earlier. 

TGA led first in its opposition to the funding of a pro-abortion club by then-Dean DeGioia in 1990, and again when Georgetown refused to place Crucifixes in 1996-1998 on its classroom walls.  For these and other efforts, in 2002, the Cardinal Newman Society awarded TGA the Ex corde Ecclesiae Award for Catholic Student Journalism. 

In its “first 5 years” review, TGA republished an article from its 1990 founding issue, written by student Sean Keely, TGA’s founder and first editor, who would late be the student procurator in 1991 that met most memorably with Msgr. William Lori over Georgetown’s funding of a pro-abortion advocacy student club.  Keely explained that TGA was established by students who saw another sort of Georgetown “radically different than the one now mired in a conflict with itself.”  Mr. Keely then went on to elaborate most powerfully on the need to preserve Georgetown’s Catholic identity.  This was written and published by a Georgetown student well before the promulgation of Ex corde Ecclesiae. [2]

In February 1995, TGA documented a Scandal that previewed the recent HHS controversy and the Obama administration’s concessions to Catholic bishops.  In February 1994, Georgetown’s president Rev. Leo J. O’Donovan announced that Georgetown had contracted for a new Georgetown Health Plan.  It contained abortion coverage.  More remarkable was that Fr. O’Donovan claimed not to know about that in an open letter of apology sent to the Jesuit Community.  More remarkable than that was that the University then proceeded to defend the new plan, arguing that the coverage was required under local and federal law.  

When this was eventually debunked as a bold-faced lie by investigative news coverage by The Hoya, Fr. O’Donovan announced that the abortion coverage would terminate on June 30th.  But the Scandal was not over.  On June 24th, a company named NCPPO offered to provide GU employees abortion coverage for free.  Georgetown, of course, accepted the offer of abortion largesse.  Meanwhile, The Washington Times reported of NCPPO’s enormous profit growth due to its lucrative new contracts with Washington area hospitals, including Georgetown University Hospital, and with Georgetown University itself. [3]       

In March 1995, four years after ECE’s going into effect, TGA published its first truly provocative issue, made so largely by the outraged response from Georgetown’s outraged faculty. In undertaking to dedicate an entire issue to examine the tenure of Georgetown’s president, Rev. Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., TGA’s editor-in-chief, student Eric Larsen, called for him to resign.  Larsen’s editorial offered a recounting of Georgetown’s moral, spiritual, and intellectual decline.  He wrote:

“Why do you insist on doing nothing more than calling your University “Catholic?” Why have you endorsed ideas antithetical to the two-thousand year heritage of your Church? Why have you allowed the removal of Christ’s reminder, the Crucifix, from the walls of your classrooms?..Perhaps you would better enjoy the presidency of a state university…You cannot please everyone.  Either we are a Catholic university, or we are not.  Either we stand for the Truth, or we are populists who profess nothing.” [4]

The “Milk Carton” issue of March 1995 also dared to publish comments that had been made anonymously by Georgetown Jesuits in response to Dean John J. DeGioia’s funding of a pro-abortion advocacy student club in 1991. [5]  TGA also published a commentary by student canon law procurator Sean Keely of his personal struggle to keep Georgetown faithful, including a detailed chronology of Georgetown’s great scandal in funding a pro-abortion student club [6], accompanied by an editorial box recounting the hard news accounts of how Rev. Leo O’Donovan, S.J. was ordered by Jesuit superiors and His Eminence, Cardinal Pio Laghi, to terminate funding for GU Choice, which he resisted. [7] 

Despite his personal victory, Keely wrote: 

“I found it particularly lamentable that even in reversing its decision to fund GU Choice the administration refused to acknowledge the error of the decision…” [8] 

Of course, the Archdiocese of Washington, the Papal Nuncio, the Jesuit Curia, and the Holy See all have, in their “GU Choice” file, the smoking gun memorandum from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities to all the (then) Jesuit presidents of America’s Jesuit colleges and universities urging them all to fund a pro-abortion advocacy student club and indicating that Georgetown would serve to lead the way for all.  This sub rosa scheme to undermine a vital Church teaching, and completely obliterate the recently Apostolic Constitution, caught Dean John DeGioia and Fr. Leo O’Donovan in a bold-faced lie in its representations to students, faculty, alumni, donors, and the Cardinal about their intent.  

Surely, it could not have been a coincidence that the GU Choice funding decision arose only a few months after the promulgation of Ex corde Ecclesiae and only a few months before it would go into effect later that year.  

The March 1995 issue also published other snapshots of Georgetown’s Catholic identity, one by Gerald Russello, a former Grand Knight of the GU Council of the Knights of Columbus and another by 1966 alumnus Anthony Sheehan.  Five years after the promulgation of ECE, these articles were a rebuttal to the presidency of Leo J. O’Donovan. [9]  In his “Reinventing Catholicism,” Sheehan rebuts Fr. O’Donovan’s open dissidence and writes to the point: 

“In His sermon on the mount, Christ did not invite rebuttal.” [10]       



[1]  It should be noted that, over 20 years, many TGA editors have converted to Catholicism after their experience as editors. 

[2]  Sean Keely, “A Modest Proposal for Another Sort of Georgetown,” The Georgetown Academy, Homecoming 1995, p. 12-13, attached at Appendix 1.  

[3]  Ann Sheridan, “Freedom to Worship,” The Georgetown Academy, February 1995, p. 7, attached at Appendix 2.

[4]  See Eric Larsen, “An Open Letter to Fr. Leo O’Donovan S.J.,” The Georgetown Academy, March 1995, p. 3, attached at Appendix 2.

[5]  “Jesuits Decry GU Choice,” The Georgetown Academy, March 1995, at pp. 8-9, attached at Appendix 2.

[6]  “Grace and Nature,” The Georgetown Academy, March 1995 at pp 10-12, attached at Appendix 2. 

[7]  Id. at 10, attached at Appendix 2.            

[8]  Id. at 12, attached at Appendix 2.   

[9]  Id., Russello, “Catholic Tradition Revisited” at p. 13, and Sheehan, “Reinventing Catholicism,” at pp.16-18: both attached at Appendix 2.      

[10]  Id. at 17.



We invite you to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.