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By Manuel A. Miranda

10/21/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

It has long been clarified that Article 3, ß3 of Ex corde Ecclesiae, means what it says when it expressly provides that a university (such as Georgetown) - may refer to itself as a Catholic university only with the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.

In over the year that the canon law petition led by William Peter Blatty has been worldwide news, Georgetown University's "newspaper of public record," The Hoya, has given the matter scant news coverage, their last piece invented facts that were not true.It has long been clarified that Article 3, §3 of Ex corde Ecclesiae, means what it says when it expressly provides that a university (such as Georgetown) "may refer to itself as a Catholic university only with the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority." 

Georgetown University

Georgetown University


By Manuel A. Miranda

Catholic Online (

10/21/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in College & University

Keywords: Ex Corder Ecclesia, Catholic identity, Georgetown University, Manuel Miranda,

WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - In over the year that the canon law Petition led by William Peter Blatty has been worldwide news, Georgetown University's "newspaper of public record," The Hoya, has given the matter scant news coverage, their last piece invented facts that were not true.  By contrast, the managing editor of the blatantly liberal Georgetown Voice recently published an op-ed agreeing with one of Blatty's main allegations. 

On Friday, The Hoya finally weighed in with some substance, publishing an interview
of Georgetown University's canonist, Rev. Ladislas Orsy, S.J., still going strong at 92! 

Orsy was one of the earliest critics of Ex corde Ecclesiae when it was issued 23 years ago and has argued for years that it has minimal reach.  He does so again in The Hoya.  Orsy had previously made the same argument regarding the canons of the 1983 Code of Canon Law addressing Catholic universities.  Both documents were promulgated by Blessed Pope John Paul II and were each unfinished matters called for by the Second Vatican Council. (Vatican II).  Both documents ended the "Land o' Lakes" apostasy, at least in words.  

Unfortunately, part of the problem with the Orsy interview is The Hoya's uninformed questions. Orsy clarifies that the Blatty Petition is not a lawsuit. There is no disagreement there. A recent press release by the Father King Society states:  "The canonical procedure being employed is not a 'lawsuit'."   

Astonishingly, however, Fr. Orsy tells The Hoya that "[Ex corde Ecclesiae} says that the president of a Catholic university should be voted on by the board of trustees and agreed upon by the Vatican."  In fact, Ex corde neither says nor suggests that!   

Orsy tells The Hoya that the Church has no power to remove its consent for Georgetown University to call itself "Catholic," suggesting that there is a difference between a university like Georgetown and a university that has "Catholic" in its name. 

Orsy's opinion has been repeatedly contradicted by Church officials and other canonists for decades now. 

It has long been clarified that Article 3, §3 of Ex corde Ecclesiae, means what it says when it expressly provides that a university (such as Georgetown) "may refer to itself as a Catholic university only with the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority." 

This new norm developed and explained Canon 808 that had been interpreted by some (including Orsy) as limiting the requirement of consent in the 1983 Code of Canon Law only to those universities which bore "Catholic" in their name or title.

The question was expressly addressed to all bishops in the great encyclical on Church moral teachings, Veritatis Splendor, where Blessed Pope John Paul II reminds bishops that:  "A particular responsibility is incumbent upon Bishops with regard to Catholic institutions..It falls to them, in communion with the Holy See, both to grant the title "Catholic" to Church-related schools, universities,., and, in cases of a serious failure to live up to that title, to take it away."

Orsy tells The Hoya that the Blatty Petition should be seen as a mere letter that the Holy See is not bound to answer   He goes on to speculate that the Holy See will send the matter back to the Archbishop of Washington and that Donald Cardinal Wuerl will not  "publicly declare" that the university is not Catholic.  "Of course, he can always say so, but there may be many who do believe that the university is Catholic enough, and it might divide the community," Orsy said.

In fact, in 2012, Cardinal Wuerl effectively spoke on this. 

In 2012, his Archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Standard, wrote in an editorial that at Georgetown University today: "leadership and faculty find their inspiration in sources other than the Gospel and Catholic teaching," and that "the vision guiding university choices does not clearly reflect the light of the Gospel and authentic Catholic teaching." (Emphasis added.)

As reported by Catholic News Service , the Petition has gone to the Holy See with Cardinal Wuerl's "blessing."  Blatty's recent press release noted that the Blatty Petition was going to Rome with the "guidance" and the "green light" of the Archdiocese of Washington. 

Blatty recently made public that "the very first remedy that we asked of the Archbishop of Washington, His Eminence, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, was: 'If the Holy Spirit leads you to it and your conscience will allow it, to declare publicly that Georgetown University is compliant with Ex corde Ecclesiae, orients its institutional initiatives according to standards that are consistent with the norms and morality of the Church, and lives up to the title 'Catholic'."  "His Eminence opted not to do that," Blatty noted.  

Further contradicting Fr. Orsy and decades of misinformation and confusion, Blatty also made public that "in directing the Petitioners to Rome, after consultation with the Holy See, the Archdiocese of Washington also made clear that, despite Georgetown's frequent misrepresentations to the contrary, Georgetown's board and administration are accountable to the Society of Jesus (the "Jesuits") and to the Holy See."

This reflects the conclusion reached some years ago when the Vatican told Jesuit-sponsored St. Louis University that they could not sell their hospital  without the Church's consent, which the Jesuits and the St. Louis University then sought and obtained. 

It appears that Fr. Orsy has not been keeping up with developments, for a decade or two.

Manuel A. Miranda, a Georgetown alumnus, serves as counsel to William Peter Blatty.


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