A satanic mass organized by a Harvard students group has been canceled after it received widespread condemnation across the board from religious and educational leaders who said it was an “affront to the faithful.”
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club announced on Monday that it would not be holding the event as negotiations between it and the bar where it was due to be held broke down. As the cultural studies club was unable to find an alternative location, the satanic mass will not go ahead as planned.
The event, which was co-organized along with the New York-based Satanic Temple, is still due to proceed on a limited basis at a private location.
As the Satanic Temple said, they intend to “reaffirm their respect for the Satanic faith and to demonstrate that the most powerful response to offensive speech is to shame those who marginalize others by letting their own words and actions speak for themselves.”
One of the opponents to the idea of the satanic mass, Archdiocese spokesman Terry Donilon, said: “I would say that the event is an attack on the Eucharist, regardless of what the organizers state. The event is offensive to Catholics and people of good will.”
In his strongly worded email, Donilon continued: “For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the church provides clear teaching concerning satanic worship. This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places the participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”
The Dean of Students and Alumni Affairs at Harvard Extension School, Robert Neugeboren, also called for the event to be cancelled, saying the whole premise of it was “deeply disturbing”:
“While we support the ability of all our students to explore difficult issues, we also encourage them to do so in ways that are sensitive to others. To that end, the Harvard Extension School has worked with the club’s student leaders to address specific concerns that have been expressed,” Neugeboren said.
While the whole idea of a satanic mass bothered people in some circles, it does raise a whole bunch of questions regarding free speech and the freedom to express one’s religious beliefs. It remains to be seen whether Harvard will permit another similar satanic mass to take place in the future as the debate over the controversial issue continues.