Satanic black mass at Harvard ‘postponed indefinitely’ amid outcry
Local faithful contact school administration to reconsider 

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By Dave Jolivet, Anchor Editor; and CNA Reports

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When word of a proposed black mass re-enactment planned by a student group at Harvard University for May 12 broke, a Fall River priest and a Fall River Harvard student and member of the university’s Knights of Columbus Council took action. 

In addition, 150 parishioners of St. Bernadette’s Parish in Fall River held an evening of Eucharistic Adoration and reparation on the night the mass was scheduled to take place, and Father John Sullivan organized a Mass at St. Patrick’s Parish in Wareham at the same time the Harvard mass was scheduled. The church was full. 

Thousands also protested and prayed in and around the Cambridge area.

The efforts of the faithful were not in vain, as the mass was “postponed indefinitely” and did not take place May 12.

The news was announced by the school’s newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, just over an hour before the event was scheduled to occur.

Originally, the black mass re-enactment was to take place on campus, at a pub in the basement of Memorial Hall. The Harvard Crimson reported late on the afternoon of May 12 that the event had voluntarily been moved to The Middle East nightclub, a short distance from campus. However, shortly afterward, the general manager of the nightclub told the publication that negotiations had fallen through and the event would not be hosted there.

Subsequently, in a breaking news update at 7:45 p.m. Eastern time, the publication reported that the black mass “has been postponed indefinitely and will not take place tonight, according to (a) Satanic Temple spokesperson.”

Connected to witchcraft and demonic worship, a black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony structured as a parody of the Catholic Mass. Invoking Satan, the ritual is centered around the desecration of the Eucharist, which is generally done by stealing a consecrated host from a Catholic church and using it in a profane sexual ritual, or defecating and urinating on it.

A spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, which was staging the event, initially told media outlets that a consecrated host would be used, although the temple and the Cultural Studies Club later denied this, insisting that only a plain piece of bread would be used.

The plans for the black mass had drawn strong opposition from the Archdiocese of Boston, along with many students, alumni and members of the broader Catholic community.

Harvard senior Aurora Griffin told CNA that she presented university president Drew Faust with petitions against the event that had garnered more than 60,000 signatures.

Dr. Faust had released a statement May 12 condemning the event as “flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory,” and the club’s decision to hold it as “abhorrent.” However, she stated that the ceremony would be allowed to continue due to the university’s “commitment to free expression.”

Faust had said that as a sign of respect, she would attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour being held by the Catholic community at Harvard in response to the black mass.

Jim McGlone, a junior at Harvard, told CNA while he was “glad” to see the university president use “the strongest language possible” to condemn the event, he disagreed that all speech and expression should be protected in a university setting, given the fundamentally offensive nature of the event.

“It’s too much of a desecration of Our Lord and a mockery and parody of our faith,” he said, to be “an attempt at dialogue — it’s really just an obscenity.”

Rather than merely offering a safe haven for all kinds of offensive speech, he continued, the purpose of free speech is “getting at the truth through discourse,” among people who may have disagreements.

Freshman Bella Gomez told CNA that rather than using freedom of speech and religion to make Harvard a “safer welcoming community for all,” Catholic students “are being solely victimized by it.”

She said she felt “uncomfortable” at the idea of entering campus facilities that had been used for a satanic ritual, indicating that the space would “no longer feel comfortable or safe” for her.

The Cultural Studies Club had defended the black mass re-enactment as educational and dismissed critics as demonstrating a close-minded “paranoia.” The group had told CNA that those offended by the event hold outdated views “based on intolerance and ignorance,” which are “arrogant and egocentric.”

Father Roger J. Landry, pastor of St. Bernadette’s Parish in Fall River is a Harvard alum. He wrote the following to Faust:

“Dear President Faust,

“I am writing to ask you to use your office to intervene to shut down the terribly ill-advised and totally insensitive Satanic mass that’s supposed to take place on May 12 at the Queens Head Pub within Memorial Hall.

“To argue, as the Extension School’s Press Release did, that it’s about education or freedom of expression or assembly or religion is silly. We all know that if there were to be a séance to communicate with the soul of Adolf Hitler, Harvard would never countenance it, first because we’re clearly dealing with conjuring evil, and second because it would be terribly injurious to Jewish members of the Harvard community and the wider community.

“We also all know that if an ‘independent student organization’ was trying to host an event in which there would be reenacting the burning of a copy of the Quran, it likewise would never be permitted, because Harvard would never associate itself with the desecration of Islam’s sacred text or allow its name or property to be used in something that would obviously outrage the spiritual sensibilities of Muslims.

“A ceremony invoking Satan, mocking the Catholic Mass and desecrating what Catholics believe to be the Body of Jesus Christ — or if, implausibly, an unconsecrated host will be used, something that is at least meant to symbolize the Eucharist — should be treated in the same way.

“It’s not enough for Harvard to put out a press release saying that Harvard doesn’t ‘endorse the views or activities of any independent student organization.’ Harvard simply would never allow itself or its properties to be associated with events that mock the religious beliefs, desecrate the Sacred texts, or insult the spiritual sensitivities of Jews or Muslims. Likewise it wouldn’t allow its reputation or institution to be affiliated in any way with the activities or views of an ‘independent student organization’ that was reenacting the lynchings of African Americans or homophobic attacks or violence against women. Harvard would clearly act decisively in those situations out of just concern for its own reputation but also out of moral outrage against such insensitivity that clear thinking, ethical people immediately recognize as evil.

“You have a special responsibility over Harvard’s reputation as well as occupy the most prominent position of all to demonstrate what Harvard stands for. Please grasp that Harvard’s present acquiescence to allowing its campus to be the setting for this Satanic mass and its up-until-now anemic response have already brought the university  local, national and international derision. The Founders of Harvard would, I think, be ashamed, that a school with a motto Veritas: Christo et Ecclesiae would allow itself to be used in any way whatsoever as the staging for Satanic worship.

“Yesterday I was asked by about two dozen people about what my alma mater was doing in allowing this mockery of Catholicism and this acquiescence in the conjuring of evil. I replied that I can’t fathom how this ‘dear mother’ would have lost its capacity to see clearly how outrageous this is and that for the first time in my life I’m really embarrassed to be associated with Harvard. I’m sure there are many other alumni who are similarly ashamed.

“There’s still time to remedy this situation and clearly communicate that mockery and desecration of the religious rites, objects, and sensibilities of others have no place at Harvard.

“By shutting this event down and not just dissociating itself from what was supposed to happen but by forcefully condemning it, you would not only remedy the damage to Harvard’s reputation that has already taken place but set the type of example for educational institutions and the broader culture that Harvard has prided itself in setting for 378 years.

“I’m hoping that you will use your office to respond as strongly to this insensitivity as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently used his office to respond to Donald Sterling’s racist comments.

“That’s what this situation warrants. That’s what you have the power to do. And that’s what I’m asking and praying that you will do.

“Respectfully,

(Father) Roger Landry, AB 92.”

Curtis St. Pierre, currently finishing his sophomore year at the Cambridge school is Grand Knight of the Pope John Paul II Council 14188, Harvard University Knights of Columbus. He and his brother Knights released the following statement:

“The Harvard Knights of Columbus are deeply saddened by the ‘re-enactment of a satanic black mass’ being hosted by a university club on campus. The black mass is a ritual that has been unequivocally condemned by the Church throughout its history. It is an intentional perversion of the Catholic Mass intended to be incredibly offensive to Christians and Catholics in particular while desecrating what we hold to be Jesus Christ Himself present in the Eucharist.

“The organizers of this event have so far responded to criticism by citing the protections of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion — both venerable principles on which our great nation was built. Some have played down the offensive nature of the event by billing it as ‘educational,’ while others have pointed out that the ritual is satirical at its very core, and so is acceptable no matter how much it offends. Both of these points dangerously ignore the evil inherent in the ritual itself. Furthermore, the message that these positions provide is that it is OK to attack someone else’s religious beliefs so long as you openly admit that you are doing so. This is a notion that we wholeheartedly reject. While we are partial to the Catholic faith, we oppose the notion of offending people of any creed for the sake of being offensive.

“We hope that you will join us in prayerfully responding to this terrible event occurring at our fair university. If you are on or near campus, we invite you to join us at St. Paul Parish at the corner of Bow and Arrow streets in Harvard Square on May 12th, from 8 to 9 p.m. for a Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction. If you will not be in the area, then we encourage you to pray with us in solidarity wherever you might be. Let us join together in the presence of Our Lord and Savior and under the guidance of Our Blessed Lady to show the world that the power of darkness will never prevail over the light of Christ.

Vivat Iesus!”

The organizers of the Holy Hour were successful — St. Paul’s Church was filled to overflowing, with people even kneeling in the vestibule and on the front steps to adore Our Lord in the Eucharist.

© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts