While it appears that the notorious Hunter Biden was dropped after one semester from his faculty position at Georgetown University — the oldest and most prestigious Catholic university in the country — the university has more than made up for the loss of the infamous Hunter Biden by hiring disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok to teach an undergraduate course in “Counterintelligence and National Security” in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Strzok, who was fired from the FBI in 2018 for “undermining the public confidence in the non-partisanship of the bureau and federal law enforcement,” is most famous for the embarrassing text messages documenting his extramarital affair in 2016 with co-worker Lisa Page and his pivotal role in the alleged coup to remove President Donald Trump from office. Announcing his new job on Twitter, Strzok now describes himself as a “26-year FBI and Army veteran. Husband, father, proud American.”
It is likely that Georgetown is hoping that the Strzok faculty appointment works out better than the Hunter Biden faculty fiasco. In 2015, Breitbart reported that “Someone using the name of then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden created a profile on the Ashley Madison dating website for extramarital affairs.” Worse, the Hunter Biden profile describing himself as a fan of “Anything Goes” with women was created on the Georgetown University campus during the time Hunter Biden was teaching there in 2014.
Although Biden told reporters that he was the “victim” of a Russian hacking plot because his position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company “outraged supporters of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime,” the truth is that account information from the Ashley Madison site shows that the profile was created at Georgetown. The site revealed that the Biden account was created at the latitude/longitude point of 38.912682, -77.071704 — the same latitude/longitude point on the Georgetown University campus where Biden was teaching when the account was created. Unless Putin’s puppets infiltrated the faculty lounge at Georgetown, it is much more likely that Hunter Biden created his own account at Ashley Madison during the time he was teaching a course called “The Art of Advocacy In and Out of Government.”
Georgetown University has a long history of hiring high-profile — and sometimes notorious — professors from the government or the media to teach in its Foreign Service, journalism, or social justice areas. At a Catholic university originally created to uphold and promote Catholic teachings, Georgetown faculty have often promoted ideologies that conflict with those teachings. For example, Georgetown faculty have promoted legislation to expand reproductive rights — including abortion.
Ignoring Catholic doctrine on human sexuality, Georgetown has historically advocated for legislative pathways to secure rights for trans and gender-nonconforming people. Offering workshops like “Trans Health in the Military” and “Queer in the Capital,” Georgetown has long been a leader in lobbying for LGBTQ rights. An important part of “OUTober” at Georgetown is the university’s “I Am” campaign, which encourages students, faculty, and staff to discuss what being gay or transgender means to them. In online videos, Georgetown community members proudly describe their appreciation for Georgetown University’s acceptance of their same-sex marriages. In one of the online videos, Samuel Aronson, assistant dean of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, said that, for him, the “I Am” campaign means that at Georgetown he is not just tolerated as a gay man who is “happily married.” Rather, Dean Aronson says that at Georgetown “we love you not despite who you love, or your gender expression, but because of who you love.”
Georgetown is not alone in this dismissal of Catholic teachings on marriage and respect for life. For more than four decades, many Catholic colleges and universities have operated as if Church teachings were social constructs contingent on the specific historical, cultural, and institutional contexts in which they emerge. Flouting Catholic doctrine on marriage and reproductive rights, Catholic college faculty members have served as advocates for same-sex marriage, while student groups like “Hoyas for Choice” have emerged to promote access to abortion. It was not a coincidence that Sandra Fluke, advocate for expanding abortion rights and free contraception during the Obama administration in 2012, was then a student at Georgetown Law School.
Some Georgetown alumni have tried to reclaim their school’s Catholic identity. Concluding that his alma mater “takes pride in insulting the Church and offending the faithful,” the late William Peter Blatty, author of the best-selling book The Exorcist, filed a Canon Law petition with the Vatican years ago asking that Georgetown University be denied the right to call itself Catholic. Calling Georgetown a “Potemkin Village,” Blatty complained that “at alumni dinners, they will make sure there is a Jesuit in a collar at every table, like the floral arrangement.” For Blatty, Georgetown is the “leader of a pack of schools that are failing to live up to their Catholic identity.”
Mr. Blatty’s 200-page papal petition contained more than 480 footnotes, 99 appendices, and 124 witness statements. It also included a commissioned 120-page institutional audit of Georgetown. According to Manuel A. Miranda, who served as Mr. Blatty’s counsel, “We have documented 23 years of scandals and dissidence — more than 100 scandals in the most recent years alone.” The petition — with the signatures of more than 2,000 Catholics — asked Pope Francis to require that Georgetown implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the 1990 papal document requiring all Catholic colleges to teach “in communion” with the Church. The goal of Blatty’s petition was to revoke Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic — unless it complies with Church teachings. But, with Blatty’s death, and the pope’s apparent unwillingness to confront Georgetown’s leaders, the petition has languished somewhere in the Vatican offices.
It is likely that in its bid for higher status among the political elites, Georgetown will continue to make the same mistakes it made in hiring Hunter Biden — because of his political connections — and hiring Peter Strzok, because of his hatred for President Donald Trump. In its own bid for higher status, Notre Dame just announced that it has hired failed Democratic candidate for president Pete Buttigieg as a faculty fellow in the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Advanced Study.
Since 1967, when Catholic college leaders — led by Catholic university presidents from Notre Dame and Georgetown — gathered in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin, to create a manifesto that declared their “true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical,” most Catholic college presidents — like Georgetown’s president — have ignored any attempts by the bishops, or even the popes, to bring the Catholic colleges and universities into communion with the Church.
Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University of Steubenville and author of The Politics of Envy (Crisis Publications).