A History of TGA (6 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.

 

 

THE PROBLEM OF OTHER GODS

If this were not all enough, the November 1999 issue published the remarkable personal witness of Elizabeth Fiore, a recent 1999 graduate, who would go on to profess vows at Visitation Convent.  Her account of student life at Georgetown echoes again the pleas of students and parents recorded throughout this Memorandum.  In “The Problem of Other Gods: The Challenge of Life at Georgetown,” Ms. Fiore tells her story completely. [48]  It is worth reading in its entirety.  

First, Ms. Fiore relates her own experience with Georgetown’s shallow sex education as a first year student.  

“Students were not only instructed about ‘safe sex’ (complete with a condom demonstration) but were addressed as though everyone in the room had made a decision to be sexually active. It was this attitude–an attitude which subscribes to society’s shameless value system and projects it upon young people at a Catholic university that is, in my view, just as harmful as the counter-Catholic values which it endorses…Abstinence, of course, was not discussed as an option.” [49]  

Ms. Fiore then relates the  opposite side of the same picture when, as a senior, she was selected and trained to be a “Resident Assistant” in charge of a freshman dormitory floor. From this experience she concludes: 

“If the general attitude of moral indifference stems from the administration, a student who turns to the University for guidance . . . for what is right /wrong, acceptable/unacceptable, tolerated/encouraged . . . this student cannot but come away with a watered down morality that more resembles Hollywood’s values than the Church’s . . . It is in the culture of Residence Life where we mislead our students. It is here where the first domino falls.” [50]  

Describing her experience as an “RA” she writes: 

“More disturbing, however, was the reaction of many of my residents . . . many of whom who were not Catholic.  One student came to my room that night, holding a condom in her hand and said to me, ‘Why was I given this? Isn’t this a Catholic University?’  My heart sank. This student was not a practicing Catholic. How does one begin to explain the apparent hypocrisy.  Do you apologize for the University? For the confusion?  How do you sanction students who did not attend?  ‘Gee, you missed the ‘safe sex’ presentation, I’ll have to report you to my superior. ‘Was I being asked to do that? Could I do that in good conscience?” [51]

In her witness, Ms. Fiore described also the weaknesses in Georgetown’s Campus  Ministries, while illustrating the unsupported hunger of Georgetown students for God.  Her optimistic conclusion highlights the struggle of being a Catholic student at Georgetown:   

“On the brighter side, such a climate of half-hearted support for Catholic students and sometimes even blatant anti-Catholic sentiment in Residence Life has given rise to an interesting – but not surprising phenomenon. Students who have to lobby for their rights as Catholics; students, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who must petition the University to reflect moral values in their policies, to hang Crucifixes on the classroom walls, to keep their beloved chaplains – these students have learned the hard way that nothing worth having is without a great price.  And so, out of an environment where it is often a challenge to hold fast to one’s convictions, has come many a young person who has paid dearly for his faith, morals, values.” [52] 

A NEW CENTURY

TGA’s Spring 2000 issue recorded the plight of Robert Swope and the national controversy he inspired for daring to object to Georgetown’s hosting of the infamous Vagina Monologues, a play that features the “good” lesbian rape of a minor. [53]   Amidst the clamor, TGA’s Editor-in-Chief left a record of the Georgetown culture toward the end of the O’Donovan presidency: 

“…Georgetown has become a Greek tragedy, complete with divine retributions, a wailing chorus, and the fall of a king.  It was Euripides’s Hecuba who warned that ‘tragic events from evil causes spring.’
“Following an alcohol-related homicide, the Washington Post documented a Georgetown culture we all know too well, largely dependent upon alcohol. Remarkably, unlike the case of Michael Byrne, who tackled a menorah, the administration has yet to suspend the students whose drunkenness led to a student’s death.  There have been no rallies against violence, alcohol consumption, or for swift punishment, as was done in the case of something less sacred than life.
“True to our generation, denial swept the campus. The level of naïveté concerning the consequences of a culture now resulting in a death is shocking.  A March 17th editorial in The Hoya (‘Misleading Media Mystifies’) argued that the Washington Post’s analysis was ‘factually correct, but one-dimensional.’  The editors gasped at the insinuation that alcohol played any role in the homicide and also pointed out that Georgetown offers innumerable alternatives to the drinking culture.  As a senior well familiar with the party culture, I believe the Post’s conclusion only scratched the surface and was plainly correct.
“Three years ago, a faculty committee reported that undergraduate drinking was excessive and unhealthy.  Repeatedly, student leaders, well aware of dense bureaucratic obstacles to organizing even non-alcoholic activities, have offered solutions.  One example was in the first Report on Student Life.  Yet to date, Georgetown has taken negligible steps to change the culture, not only scarred by a tragic death, but pocked with frequent petty fights, hundreds of alcohol-related hospitalizations each year, unwanted sexual assaults, record pregnancies, abortions, and an STD rate that would make a sailor blush.
“In the midst of the Greek tragedy, Father President’s announced retirement was welcomed relief.  The Georgetown Academy has been a consistent voice for an alternative culture, and a nobler vision during the O’Donovan years.” [54] 

In light of a student’s recent death and the announcement of Leo O’Donovan’s resignation, TGA’s Editorial in that same issue did not mince words.   

“We asked a Jesuit friend recently why Georgetown’s next president should be a Jesuit. ‘Because it’s ours,’ he answered, cocksure. We’re not so sure. Absentee landlords, maybe. Friends and foes alike might think that ‘tenants’ just taking up space is more apt.  If John Carroll intended, as he did, that Georgetown be the ‘main-sheet anchor’ of Catholic education in America, our contra-Catholic student affairs superstructure in Leavey has the patriot-bishop turning in his grave. Ignatius of Loyola must be whirling like a turbine. Loyola’s men have abandoned us, while Georgetown is a missionary land again.
“The end of the O’Donovan interregnum juxtaposes a university full of endless plans for new construction, but void of any vision for a student life edifice that inculcates the higher virtues . . . If Georgetown cannot carve out the perfect citizen in a place where food and drink are plentiful and where learning is the enterprise of the town, then where can liberty and duty, and responsibility, and integrity, ever take root? 
“And what of the Greco-Roman concept, Virtue? Virtue was the third leg of the Philadelphia tripod, together with Faith and Freedom, upon which our Founding Fathers rested our God-given liberty and unalienable free will.  As a Catholic matter, there is no reason, save Jesuit cravenness and myopia, why a Catholic campus cannot be the closest approximation to the Kingdom on Earth.
“Where is there a better place to show the world what a Catholic-American polity, deeply rooted in the Abrahamic tradition and Mosaic law, would look like?  What better place to grow the child of the Jew and Greek, the Roman and American, than at John Carroll’s Georgetown?
“The first solution to Georgetown’s culture of alcohol, and the corresponding record rates of abortions and STDs, and every other failure in student life, is to replace the petty administrative nobility currently entrenched with men and women guided by a moral compass and with a joyful desire to paint creatively on a life-sized canvass . . . 
“G.K. Chesterton wrote that Rome was not loved because she was great, but rather great because she was loved.  But if one then asks why she was loved, the answer can only be, on account of that Virtue which was hers alone, and whereby was defined her identity.  Such identity with Virtue is ultimately reflected in daily life and culture. Georgetown’s Loyolan identity must remain anchored in the challenge of faith, the formation of free and virtuous citizens, and in the hierarchy of knowledge, so as to relate all to the highest things, and, above all, love of Truth . . .” [55]   

The September 2000 TGA again welcomed first year students with a primer on all that they would encounter at Georgetown (“Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You”), ending with: 

“Finally,  there will be the Catholic question.  It is difficult to predict how far in any given year anti-Catholic bigots will feel free to go in voicing their disrespect and intolerance of Catholic authority, teaching and tradition.  Encouraged as the bigots will be by self-loathing “Catholics” guided by the tired old O’Donovan-Bunnell generation that clings stubbornly to failed movements over three decades old, reflecting a Catholic perspective on a world that has long ago ceased to exist, an inferiority complex no longer shared by Catholic American in a post-JFK world, and conspiring against a pre-Vatican II church few Catholic Americans today have known.” [56] (Emphasis added.) 

The October 2000 TGA Editorial captured the state of Georgetown while advocating for what a new president of Georgetown should be like, including someone who will “not be arrogant or obtuse” on the implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae. [57]   

In November 2000, TGA published its second issue for distribution on campus and at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  The Editorial (“Bishops Need To Get Real”) expressed both sadness and frustration, and is worth a complete reading.  It states the truth plainly here: 

“For ten long years since Ex corde Ecclesiae was given by a pope, himself once a university professor, our American bishops have timidly approached the question of saving 235 schools like Georgetown for the Church and for the republic that needs them ever more.  People we trust tell us that ten years of dialogue have not been fruitless. But in ten years, no Catholic college student in America has yet to taste a single fruit. On the contrary, students, faculty, and laity have felt abandoned, powerless and unsupported.” [58]      

TGA also published a stunning expose of Georgetown’s Campus Ministries (“The Shepherd’s Betrayal”) [59] and a priceless article by Dr. Richard N. Williams of Brigham Young University called “Hiring and Firing for Mission.” [60]    

 

 

FOOTNOTES

[48]  Elizabeth Fiore, “The Problem of Other Gods: The Challenge of Life at Georgetown,” The Georgetown Academy, November 1999, pp. 22-26, attached at Appendix 15.

[49]  Id., at 23. 

[50]  Id., at 24.

[51]  Id.

[52]  Id., at 26.

[53]  TGA Editor, “Hoya Censors Columnist for Pro-Catholic Viewpoint,” The Georgetown Academy, p. 7;  “Georgetown Exorcised,” editorial reprinted from the WSJ at 21; Unpublished Letters to The Hoya, at 22, all attached at Appendix 16.

[54]  TGA Editor, “Letter from the Editor-in-Chief,” The Georgetown Academy, p. 3, attached at Appendix 16.   

[55]  Editorial, “A Spirit for Georgetown, “The Georgetown Academy, p. 2, attached at Appendix 16. 

[56]  Editorial, “Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You, “The Georgetown Academy, September 2000,  p. 2, attached at Appendix 17.

[57]  Editorial, “We need a leader,” The Georgetown Academy, October 2000,  p. 2, attached at Appendix 18.  See also Eric Wright, “You Are Peter,” The Georgetown Academy, October 2000, p. 13-14, attached at Appendix 18.  

[58]  Editorial, “Bishops Need to Get Real,” The Georgetown Academy, November 2000, p. 2, attached at Appendix 19. 

[59]  Sabine Calle, “The Shepherd’s Betrayal,” The Georgetown Academy, November 2000, pp. 8-10, attached at Appendix 19.

[60]  Dr. Richard N. Williams, “Hiring and Firing for Mission,” The Georgetown Academy, November 2000, pp. 11-13, attached at Appendix 19.

 

 

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