A reenactment of satanic rituals known as a “black mass” that had been scheduled to take place this evening on the Harvard campus has been moved to an undetermined location off university property.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, which is hosting the event, has decided to move it off campus, Robert Neugeboren, dean of students and alumni affairs at the extension school, said in a statement.
“We understand that the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club has indicated their decision to cancel the ‘Black Mass’ reenactment on Harvard’s campus scheduled for this evening, moving it instead to a location off campus,” Neugeboren said.
He added, “The Harvard Extension School is grateful the student group has recognized the strong concerns expressed by members of the Harvard community and beyond.”
It was not immediately clear where the mass will be held. Some media outlets had reported that it was being moved to the Middle East club in Central Square, but a spokesman for the club said they had decided against hosting the event.
The mass organizers could not be reached for comment, but they said in a statement online that “Only 100 are able to attend and registration has far exceeded that.”
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and Harvard University’s president had been at odds over the university’s initial decision to allow the reenactment on campus.
O’Malley said the event is disturbing. The satanic ritual is believed to mock the Roman Catholic religion.
“Why people would want to do something that is so offensive to so many people in the community, whether they’re Catholic or not, it’s very repugnant,” O’Malley said in an interview with the Globe. “There’s a great fascination with evil in the world, but you know, it doesn’t lead to anything good.”
In a statement released today, Harvard University President Drew Faust said the performance will be allowed on campus. She called the student group’s sponsorship of the so-called black mass “abhorrent,” but said she must protect the group’s right to free speech.
“Vigorous and open discussion and debate are essential to the pursuit of knowledge, and we must uphold these values even in the face of controversy,” said Faust. “Freedom of expression, as Justice [Oliver Wendell] Holmes famously said long ago, protects not only free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”
At the time that the student organization is hosting its event, Faust said she will attend a service at St. Paul’s Church in Cambridge organized by the Boston Archdiocese. Faust said she is going to “join others in reaffirming our respect for the Catholic faith at Harvard.”
SOURCE: Travis Andersen, Laura Crimaldi and Jacqueline Tempera
The Boston Globe