A History of TGA (3 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 been published anywhere, 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.




In August 1998, TGA began a new academic year and addressed a new set of Scandals.  Their cover showing the Georgetown Jesuit community asked: “Who are these men and why are they here?”  TGA published John Paul II’s recent ad limina address to American bishops: 

The Catholic identity of a university should be evident in its curriculum…in its student activities and in the quality of its community life.” [26]  (Emphasis added.)

If that was not controversial enough, TGA published a personal account by student Christopher Craig that recorded for the first time Georgetown’s scandalous mandatory sex orientation program.  In his “Peer Education: A Look at Residence Life’s Dirty Little Secret,” [27] Craig recounted being instructed on casual sex, using a dental dam while having oral sex with a woman, and on how to use a condom.             

This controversy and all others, however, would be eclipsed by TGA’s next issue in October 1998 that recounted “Father O’Donovan’s Latest Scandals” and in particular, TGA objected to Georgetown’s new “Safe Zones” program, under which professors and staff would be asked to place a sticker on their doors to indicate that they were friendly and welcoming to homosexuals (and consequently marking also those who wished not to participate). [28]   

Within a few hours the entire distribution of the TGA issue was stolen from its distribution sites, sparking a national media controversy inflamed by the delay of the Georgetown administration to stand up for free expression on campus.  Within days, new donations allowed for the stolen TGA issue to be reprinted and re-distributed twice again.   

In this controversial issue, TGA’s editors again called on Fr. O’Donovan to resign for failings on a litany of issues.  On Safe Zones, the Editorial noted: 

“Like the funding of the abortion rights club GU Choice in the early 90s, the Safe Zone Program is designed to get the camel’s nose into the tent. Sold as promoting “diversity,” at day’s end Safe Zones seeks to achieve acceptance of homosexual activity and lifestyle at the nation’s flagship Jesuit academy. Rather than conveying that men and women with homosexual tendencies are to be loved and treated with compassion, the message is that the homosexual lifestyle is endorsed and supported by Georgetown University.” [29]      

The “Safe Zones” issue also included a reprint from 1990 of an article written by a prescient 20 year old: “Off Course: Why Is Georgetown University Abandoning Catholic Education?” Relatively unnoticed in this issue amidst the controversy was TGA’s response to the latest task force by-product of Centered Pluralism and Fr. O’Donovan’s rolling effort to eclipse and avoid Ex corde Ecclesiae: “The Latest Incarnation of Our Search to Be Secular” or “Stall Until The Old Pope Dies.” [30]   

TGA’s Winter 1999 issue brought the support of Jesuit Peter Ryan, who has served as a member of both the board of directors of the Cardinal Newman Society and of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. [31]   The February 1999 issue recorded the Georgetown administration’s opportunistic reaction to the killing of young Matthew Shepard by defending their Safe Zones program. [32]

Then in its Spring 1999 edition, TGA recorded the next Georgetown Scandal: the invitation to speak to pornographer Larry Flynt, with the cover asking: “Free Speech or Poor Judgment?” and the Editorial (“Free Speech, Cheap Talk”) noted Georgetown’s rebuke in hundreds of editorial pages around the country and the forceful protest from the Archdiocese of Washington.  The editors noted: “No voices of pastoral guidance were raised by the Safe Zones counselors or the Kumbaya Jesuits…” and that only the public relations office offered the “old chestnuts” of “academic freedom” and “free speech.” 

The Editorial also forcefully debunked Georgetown’s spotty commitment to free speech principles over years while excoriating the Jesuits and the University for hypocrisy. [33]  Also interesting in the “Larry Flynt” issue is the farewell letter from the Editor-in-Chief, who notes that he was honored to fight for Georgetown’s Catholic identity even while being an atheist. He writes: 

Of all the conclusions I have reached this year, the most disturbing, if only as a matter of fairness, is that Catholics – particularly devout ones – are being persecuted at Georgetown today. And there is no institution more systematically ridiculed on campus than the Catholic Church.  Catholics are ridiculed by unprincipled relativist students and insulted by anti-Catholic faculty.  They are alienated by an administration that mocks their values.  They are persecuted by endless lies, delivered to the faithful by the very men in Roman collars they come to trust, especially the young Jesuits who put a friendly face on the schemes of the old. This explains the co-option of Catholic student leaders and organizations.  Georgetown’s Catholic faith, to borrow a line, is dying the death of a thousand cuts.” [34] (Emphasis added.)  

The “Larry Flynt” issue also brought an article by alumnus Manuel Miranda, then president of the Cardinal Newman Society, entitled “Marketplace of Ideas or Bargain Basement?” The editor at the time also took on, in rare fashion, the shadowy anti-Catholic Georgetown professor, Alex Sens, whom he notes had written in The Hoya newspaper concerning the replacement of Crucifixes in classrooms: 

“Some men and women may feel troubled by the presence of Crucifixes in the classrooms because for them it serves as a reminder of  the role of the Catholic (and more generally Christian) characterization of Jews as “perfidious” Christ-killers played in the ugly history of anti-Semitism in this and previous centuries.” [35]  

Professor Sens would subsequently explain in another interview: “I was trying to equate the symbolism of the Crucifix with the symbolism of the Confederate flag.” [36] 

The Spring 1999 issue also records the Scandal and controversy given by Georgetown in the mistreatment of assistant chaplains of all faiths. [37]




[26]  “John Paul II’s Address on Catholic Education,” The Georgetown Academy, August 1998, p. 10, attached at Appendix 9. 

[27]  “Peer Education: A Look at Residence Life’s Dirty Little Secret,” The Georgetown Academy, August 1998, pp. 14, 17, attached at Appendix 9.  

[28]  Alex Bea, “Why Not A Safer Zone,” The Georgetown Academy, October 1998, pp, 5 and 18, attached at Appendix 10. 

[29]  “Time to Resign, Fr. President,” The Georgetown Academy, August 1998, pp. 14, 17, attached at Appendix 10. 

[30]  “The Latest Incarnation of Our Search to Be Secular or “Stall Until The Old Pope Dies,” The Georgetown Academy, October 1998, pp. 12-14, 18, attached at Appendix 10.

[31]  “Gateway to a Uniquely Georgetown Education: A Fresh Introduction to Ex corde Ecclesiae,The Georgetown Academy, Winter 1999, pp. 16-19, attached at Appendix 11.

[32]  “The Shannon Faulkner Award for 1998,” The Georgetown Academy, February 1999,  p. 20, attached at Appendix 12.

[33]  Editorial, “Free Speech, Cheap Talk,” The Georgetown Academy, Spring 1999, p. 2, attached at Appendix 13.

[34]  TGA Editor, “Letter from the Editor,” The Georgetown Academy, Spring 1999, p. 3, attached at Appendix 13.

[35]  See “My Name is Alex Sens,” The Georgetown Academy, Spring 1999, p. 13, attached at Appendix 13. 

[36]  Id.

 [37]  See Chris DiLorenzo, “Georgetown’s Bunny Hop, or Will the Last Good Jesuit Turn Off the Lights,” The Georgetown Academy, Spring 1999, p. 7;  Neil Bradley, “An Open Letter to Fr. O’Donovan,” The Georgetown Academy, Spring 1999, p. 9;  Charlotte Allen, “Trouble at Georgetown,” The Georgetown Academy, Spring 1999, p 12;  all attached at Appendix 13.



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