A History of TGA (7 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 September 2001, TGA’s Editorial again warned new students on what to expect in the Georgetown culture and to avoid especially those “infantilists” who would give them direction on their sexual identity. [61]   In October 2001, TGA reacted to the appointment of Dr. John J. DeGioia as Georgetown‘s new president and asked in its cover, “Will He Take The Oath of Fidelity?”  The Editorial illustrated the University’s culture and the absence of an authentic Catholic identity, and profiled Dr. DeGioia and questioned whether he was the right Layman for the job. [62]  

The issue also featured a provocative article entitled “The House That Jack Built” and sub-titled “At GU, Whatever Homosexual Activists Want, They Get.”  The article describes the history of the Gay activist movement at GU and captures the growing strength of the effort that just a few years later would result in the first LGBTQ Center at a Catholic university.  It also exposes the strategy, tactics, and tools of such a movement at a Catholic college. [63] Complementing this, TGA published a personal witness by a former editor on his personal struggles during several Georgetown scandals but especially on the attacks upon him for objecting to the gay activist agenda at Georgetown. [64] 

The November 2001 TGA issue celebrating the bicentenary of John Henry, Cardinal Newman, began with an Editorial that analyzed Dr. John J. DeGioia’s inaugural address under the title “Georgetown’s Response to Newman.”  It is a prescient foreshadowing of the confusion and obtuseness of the DeGioia presidency that should be read in its entirely. [65]   It is also revealing of the sensibilities that greeted Dr. DeGioia, which he as the Dean of Student Affairs partly caused. 

The December 2001 TGA offered a first small assessment of the DeGioia presidency in its Editorial. [66]   The issue also took account of Georgetown’s illiberal and self-serving history regarding free speech. [67]  An excellent news account recounted the comments made by notables, especially Cardinal Dulles, at the 10th Anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae conference organized by the Cardinal Newman Society. The writer noted: “Georgetown came up several times in audience questions, usually as a risible example of a Catholic university.” [68]  


In the past ten years of the DeGioia presidency, TGA has continued to record Georgetown’s Catholic identity record and its scandals. 

In September 2003, it was there to record Georgetown’s scandalous disrespect during and after the commencement speech delivered by Cardinal Francis Arinze.  It recorded the scandal in its Editorial and several articles, [69] and 13 years after the promulgation of Ex corde Ecclesiae, Cindy Searcy TGA’s then-Baptist editor-in-chief wrote “Georgetown falsely entices Christians with the allure of a religious education . . . Georgetown must not only embrace its Catholicism, but stop alienating Christians.” [70]   

TGA’s January 2004 issue is stark. Its cover features a Crucifix with the banner question: “Have You Seen Or Studied This Man At Georgetown?” [71]

TGA’s February 2005 focused on the often-noticed lack of institutional support by the Georgetown administration of the pro-life movement.  (This was recently echoed by Kevin Sullivan, organizer of this year’s Annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference for Life.)  Executive Editor Joseph Zwosta (now a priest in the Diocese of Brooklyn) wrote: 

“As the most prestigious Catholic university in our nation’s capital, and indeed the entire nation, Georgetown ought to play a major role in the annual March for Life. The Church’s stance on abortion is unmistakable and nonnegotiable. Abortion is a gravely sinful act that is not permissible under any circumstances . . . Catholic institutions of higher learning have a special duty to take the lead in such efforts.  
“The collective support of the Georgetown administration, the Office of Campus Ministry, and the Catholic Student Association can best be described using one word: nonexistent. This is nothing short of shameful.  Between them, they did not even send out a single e-mail notifying students of the event (but as anyone with a Georgetown mail account knows, they send e-mails out about everything else).  
“There is little point in dwelling on the inaction of the administration.  For years, this publication has documented their callous indifference and active hostility towards all things Catholic here on the Hilltop.  Only the most bright-eyed optimist would expect this state of affairs to change for the better.  Pro-life students must look outside the university structure for leadership . . . ”

Significantly, Joe Zwosta snapshots a telling event in Georgetown history and its implementation of Ex corde Ecclesiae, that shows the Archbishop of Washington, His Eminence, Cardinal McCarrick, joining so many others who become blinded by Georgetown’s bangles, baubles and other misleading shiny things.   Of course, as it might have been expected, Cardinal McCarrick was a signatory of the Land O’ Lakes Declaration.   Zwosta writes:     

“In December of last year, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Georgetown.  In his remarks, His Eminence praised Georgetown for exemplifying Catholic ideals.  He said, “A university must be involved in caring and showing people how to care. I think Georgetown is.” 
“Sadly, Georgetown has not demonstrated that it cares about the plight of the unborn innocents. In fact, aside from a few exceptional student run organizations, the university has entirely divorced itself from Catholic ideals. 
I pray that Cardinal McCarrick will eventually see just how far Georgetown has fallen and will take steps as prelate of Washington to restore Georgetown to its Catholic mission.” [72]  (Emphasis added.)

In April 2005, devoting an entire issue to “vocation and mourning,” TGA dedicated its cover and Editorial to the passing of Blessed John Paul.  The Editorial snapshots Georgetown scandals and makes predictions: 

“In contrast [to Pope John Paul II’s accomplishments], during John Paul II’s reign, Georgetown moved further away from its Catholic identity and ideals. Supposedly holy men presided over the gutting of Catholic chapels, the removal of Crucifixes from classrooms, and the funding of a student pro-abortion group, just to name a few examples.  The university . . . elected its first lay president.  Catholic teachings, rituals, and leaders were commonly mocked by students, faculty, and administrators.
“The upcoming conclave will no doubt have an impact on Georgetown. If a conservative successor is elected, such as Cardinal Ratzinger or Cardinal Arinze, the formal revocation of Georgetown’s status as a Catholic university will become exceedingly more likely.  A conservative pope would reinforce doctrines that the university would be unwilling to defend, and appoint bishops that the university would be unwilling to obey.  We can only hope that strong leaders will emerge that will help Georgetown regain its stature as an authentic Catholic university.” [73]

TGA also published a well-researched feature article documenting the failure of Georgetown to encourage and support priestly and other religious vocations. [74]  

In September 2005, TGA welcomed first year students with another introduction to the question of whether Georgetown was Catholic.  Executive Editor Joe Zwosta (now at the North American College in Rome) captures Georgetown’s effort to implement Ex corde Ecclesiae 15 years after its promulgation.  He writes also of the Potemkin village echoed by the Holy Father in May as not being enough: 

“ . . . While creating this massively influential institution, Georgetown has abandoned its commitment to the second component of its mission, the dissemination of the Catholic faith.
“One of the first things tourists are told as they are led around campus is, ‘Georgetown is not really Catholic. We were founded as a Catholic university and some Jesuits live and teach here, but we don’t really emphasize that stuff anymore.’ Sadly, our tour guides are more right than they know. 
“Occasionally, the Georgetown administration still pays superficial lip service to our Catholic identity. It maintains a few chapels on campus, though they are banal and Protestantized.  Catholic traditions such as the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of each school year are preserved.  However, Catholicism is not merely a set of rituals; it is a way of life.  A truly Catholic education must consist of more than a liberal arts program at an institution that happens to call itself Catholic. 
“Increasing numbers of persons and institutions are beginning to recognize the spiritual decay of Catholic universities worldwide.  An organization known as the Cardinal Newman Society has made headlines recently after its call for the removal of certain professors from Catholic universities, including Georgetown, who advocate ideas contrary to the moral teachings of the Church. The stated mission of the Cardinal Newman Society is to promote “John Henry Cardinal Newman’s vision, further developed by Pope John Paul II in his 1990 Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae.”
“The four Georgetown professors named by the group are philosophy professor Tom Beauchamp, Georgetown Law Professors Maxwell Bloche and Lawrence Gostin and Medical School professor Howard Freed.  Predictably, these condemnations were widely denounced by many academicians and campus publications. The President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Father Charles Currie, S.J., declared that, “Intelligent, respectful questions, disagreements and criticisms are welcomed by the canons of the academic community.”
“Given the dearth of information available, it would not be fair for me to say whether or not those four specific professors deserve to be fired.  However, the more important issue is whether or not a Catholic university has the duty to dismiss professors who blatantly deny core moral tenets of the Church.  
“Opponents of the movement to reform Catholic universities hide behind the mantras of “academic freedom” and “the need for a diversity of viewpoints.” However, the Church is clear that there is no room for dissent or nuance on certain issues. 
“Abortion and euthanasia are two such issues. When a Catholic university employs professors who dissent from the authoritative moral precepts of the Church, it implicitly lends legitimacy to such viewpoints. The administrations of Catholic universities must not merely strive to be efficient bureaucracies that raise money, fill out paperwork, and schedule classes. They bear the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the educators they employ adhere to the moral framework of the Church.
“Within this framework there is certainly room for legitimate academic discussion and debate. However, when a Catholic university allows professors to dissent from this framework, they abdicate their responsibility to the spreading of truth.  In the very near future, Georgetown must re-examine its commitment to its Catholic identity.” [75]

Providing an example of a Georgetown professor caught in the act, TGA reprinted a Book Review by Christopher House that first appeared in The Daily Telegraph and was republished in The Tablet.  House reviewed James O’Donnell’s “Augustine: A New Biography,” which appeared to say more about O’Donnell than Augustine. House concludes: “Professor O’Donnell has a bitter animus against Christians and, if his view of Augustine is correct, he was a deluded monster.”  As House notes, Professor O’Donnell served at the time as the Provost of Georgetown University, GU’s highest academic officer. [76]   

Fr. Zwosta, as a third year student at Georgetown, had a keen eye.  In the February 2006 TGA he documents the contours of Jesuit Heritage Week, one of the oft-cited edifices of Georgetown’s Catholic Potemkin village, and then describes a more important event:   

“More importantly, however, students were afforded a wonderful opportunity to examine the extent to which the Catholic and Jesuit identity of Georgetown has declined in recent decades. Unfortunately, however, this opportunity was not officially listed on the JHW event schedule.  Instead, the speech by the President of the Cardinal Newman Society, Patrick Reilly, was organized by the Lecture Fund, much to the chagrin of prominent campus Jesuits. 
“In his speech, Reilly provided a stunning account of the numerous ways in which
Georgetown has strayed from its Jesuit heritage.  Unfortunately, the reaction of students, faculty, and even Jesuits who attended the lecture demonstrated just how far this university has fallen from its once unflinching fealty to the teachings of the Church.  Many of the subjects that Reilly touched upon have been analyzed in great detail by TGA in the past.  He spoke about the funding of H*yas for Choice and the ensuing controversy with Father President O’Donovan. He discussed numerous faculty members who directly oppose Catholic teaching on abortion, euthanasia and other core moral issues. 
“It was truly stunning to hear about Georgetown professors who moonlight as officials for groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL.  The issue that struck the greatest nerve with the hostile crowd, however, was the propriety of the performance of the Vagina Monologues.  Reilly argued that Catholic universities should not allow the sexually explicit play to be performed on its campuses, since it denigrates women and glorifies deviant, and in some cases illegal, behavior.  Many Catholic universities, including Providence and CUA, agree with the Cardinal Newman Society’s position and have banned performances of the [Vagina] Monologues. Several proponents of the play, however, berated Reilly for advocating this position, and asserted that Georgetown has no business “censoring” performances and controlling other student activities on campus.”

Then, Zwosta snapshots a key exchange and the confusion planted in a young Catholic’s mind:  

“Moreover, the ordinary determines which theologians are granted the mandatum, which, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is “an acknowledgment by Church authority that a Catholic professor of a theological discipline is teaching within the full communion of the Catholic Church.”  There is much disagreement over whether the granting of the mandatum ought to be made known to the public or whether it is simply a matter between the local bishop and a particular theologian. 
“Father Otto Hentz spoke out quite emotionally against Reilly’s claim that the granting of the mandatum ought not be a private matter. One wonders why a theologian (especially a Catholic priest) would be so adamantly against the disclosure of the mandatum unless he has not been granted it. In any event, Father Hentz demonstrated the resistance within the theology department to a meaningful implementation of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae.” [77]  

The February 2006 issue of TGA also gave witness to the new Potemkin language, usually in Latin, being used at Georgetown to suggest a Catholic, or even better, a Jesuit identity.  First-year student Anthony Piccirillo renews the Catholic question potently :   

“When our university refers to its Catholic and Jesuit heritage, it rightly points out the philosophy of cura personalis and the care for the whole person that calls for a well-rounded education. The University also accentuates the noble concern for social justice, rooted in its Catholic identity as well as the University’s willingness to educate students of all faiths. Yet, we cannot allow these values to overshadow other essential aspects of our Catholic heritage . . . Being Catholic also means recognizing the Church’s moral teachings, and the existence of certain objective and immutable truths. 
“. . . [I]f Georgetown wants to be an even greater university it must embrace, not avoid the Catholic identity which makes it unique.  Now is an important time for us to think about the many areas in which Georgetown has been strengthened by promoting its Catholic identity as well as other areas in which the university may need improvement. Perhaps this self-evaluation is forced as rumors circulate that Pope Benedict may be prepared to dissociate the Church from universities that for all intents and purposes are no longer Catholic.  
[“T]his article is written in order to stress the importance of our Catholic roots. By maintaining and strengthening those roots we will not only become an even better university, but we will be able to prove that it is possible to be one of the nation’s best universities while at the same time remaining loyal to the principles of our Catholic identity.”  

Young Mr. Piccirillo then poses a key question: 

“We all must now ask ourselves a question: if the Vatican were to demand that Georgetown make certain changes or lose its Catholic identity, what would be the University’s choice?  While I do not know the answer to that question, I do know that Catholicism is vital to our great university, and we cannot lose Georgetown.” [78] 



[61]  Editorial, “Time to Grow Up…Or Not”,” The Georgetown Academy, September 2001, p. 2, attached at Appendix 20. 

[62]  Editorial, “Our Hopes In Jack DeGioia,“ The Georgetown Academy, October 2001,  p. 2, attached at Appendix 21.

[63]  Amar Weisman, “The House That Jack Built: At GU, Whatever Homosexual Activists Want, They Get,” The Georgetown Academy, October 2001, p. 18-20, attached at Appendix 21.

[64]  TGA Editor, “So Am I a Homophobe?” The Georgetown Academy, October 2001, p. 21-22, attached at Appendix 21.

[65]  Editorial, “Georgetown’s Response to Newman,” The Georgetown Academy, November 2001, p. 2, attached at Appendix 22.

[66]  Editorial, “We Need Leaders Who Are Better Than Frodo,” The Georgetown Academy, December 2001,  p. 2, attached at Appendix 23.

[67]  Matt Mauney, “Gonzales Sinks Deeper,” The Georgetown Academy, December 2001,  p. 7, attached at Appendix 23. 

[68]  Keith Caitlin, “Dulles Tells Catholic Educators To Cease Being ‘Apologetic, Almost Embarrassed’,”  The Georgetown Academy, December 2001, p. 8, attached at Appendix 23.  

[69]  Joe Zwosta, “Marching In Their Stead, The Silence of a Catholic University,” The Georgetown Academy, p. 14, attached at Appendix 26. 

[70]  Editorial, “Georgetown is Coming Out” The Georgetown Academy, September 2003, p. 2; Cindy Searcy, “Christians Alienated,” The Georgetown Academy, September 2003,  p. 10; Dr. James Hitchcock, “The New Orthodoxy of Dissent: Cardinal Arinze’s Georgetown Address,” The Georgetown Academy, December 2001, p. 9, all attached at Appendix 24.

[71]  Id., Searcy at 10.

[72]  See Cover, The Georgetown Academy, January 2004, attached at Appendix 25.  

[73]  Editorial, “Pope John Paul II: 1920-2005,” The Georgetown Academy, p. 3, attached at Appendix 27.  

[74]  Red Smith, “Vocations and the Modern Catholic; How Catholic Schools Are Failing the Church,” The Georgetown Academy, p. 6-10, attached at Appendix 27.

[75]  Joe Zwosta, “Utraque Unum,” The Georgetown Academy, pp 5-6, attached at Appendix 28.

[76]  See Christopher House, “God With a Small ‘g’,” The Georgetown Academy, pp 12-13, attached at Appendix 28.   

[77]  Joe Zwosta, “Jesuit Heritage Week Heats Up, Georgetown’s Catholicism Questioned Again,” The Georgetown Academy, p. 5, attached at Appendix 29.  

[78]  Anthony Piccirillo, “We Cannot Lose Georgetown,” The Georgetown Academy, pp.10-13, attached at Appendix 29.  



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