William Peter Blatty graduated from Georgetown University in 1950. More than 60 years later, he still calls the school “home.” That’s why he has signed his name to a petition that calls for the removal of Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit designations if it doesn’t comply with every rule in Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II’s constitution for affiliated colleges, The Washington Post reports.
Blatty, who won an Academy Award for the screenplay adaptation of his best-selling novel The Exorcist, signed the petition along with 2,000 other Catholics that asks the Catholic Church "to require that Georgetown implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae, a papal constitution governing Catholic colleges."
If the effort fails, the petition demands “the removal or suspension of top-ranked Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit in any of its representations.”
Blatty, 85, received a four-year scholarship to attend Georgetown, a safe haven from his troubled life of poverty in New York. So why support an initiative that could damage his beloved alma mater?
“If you truly love someone that you think needs to be in rehab, you’ll do everything you possibly can to get them into rehab,” he told the Post.
Blatty said the last straw was when the university invited Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to be a commencement speaker in May 2012. Sebelius supports abortion, an issue Blatty feels very strongly about.
“He describes, his voice trembling, a particular abortion procedure in graphic detail,” said the Post. “He pauses. His voice is nearly a whisper. ‘That’s demonic.’”
The writer, director and producer hopes to hear back from the Vatican regarding the petition by Christmas, the day before the 40th anniversary of The Exorcist.
The novel the film was based off rocked the nation after its 1971 publication. It appeared on best-seller lists for more than a year. Blatty also wrote and produced the film version, which opened Dec. 26, 1973. Nearly 40 years later, The Exorcist is still known as one of the top horror films of all time. To date, it has grossed more than $441 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.