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Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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'Exorcist' author taking on Georgetown for 'defying' Catholic doctrine

The devoutly Catholic writer who penned "The Exorcist" doesn't think Georgetown University, the nation's oldest Catholic college, is, well, Catholic enough. And he plans to take his case to court — a Catholic court.

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His reason? The school's recent speaking invitation to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

William Henry Blatty, an 85-year-old Georgetown alum, gratefully acknowledges that the school launched him on a career that eventually led him to produce the 1971 book and eventual Hollywood blockbuster about ridding a young girl of demons.

"What I owe Georgetown," Blatty said in a statement, "is nothing as compared to what Georgetown owes to its founders and the Christ of faith."

The writer was appalled that a school with any connection to Catholicism would invite Sebelius, who approved a government mandate that all employers cover their workers' birth control. The Catholic Church is against all forms of artificial birth control and opposed the move.

Blatty argued that Georgetown, which has a long association with the Jesuits, has "violated church teaching for decades by inviting speakers who support abortion rights, according to a Religion News Service story by Daniel Burke, "and refusing to obey instructions the late Pope John Paul II issued in 1990 to church-affiliated colleges and universities."

The Sebelius invitation was "the last straw," Blatty said in a statement. "The school should amend its ways or stop calling itself a Catholic or Jesuit institution."

Among the writer's concerns were the school's failure to "recruit Catholic teachers and students ... to instruct students in Catholic morality," and its defiance of church doctrine.

According to RNS, Blatty, who made a spinning head into a cultural phenomenon, expects the suit to be filed in the Archdiocese of Washington's court of canon law this fall.

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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