Harvard University Extension Cultural Studies Club canceled a Satanic black mass ceremony that was scheduled to take place on Monday night, following widespread backlash and offense at the plans.
The Satanic black mass had been planned in an unholy alliance with New York based The Satanic Temple group. Harvard University president Drew Faust condemned the event.
"The reenactment of a 'black mass' planned by a student group affiliated with the Harvard Extension School challenges us to reconcile the dedication to free expression at the heart of a university with our commitment to foster a community based on civility and mutual understanding. 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. Freedom of expression, as Justice Holmes famously said long ago, protects not only free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.," said Faust in a statement on Monday prior to the event being canceled.
"...But even as we permit expression of the widest range of ideas, we must also take responsibility for debating and challenging expression with which we profoundly disagree. The 'black mass' had its historical origins as a means of denigrating the Catholic Church; it mocks a deeply sacred event in Catholicism, and is highly offensive to many in the Church and beyond. The decision by a student club to sponsor an enactment of this ritual is abhorrent...It is deeply regrettable that the organizers of this event, well aware of the offense they are causing so many others, have chosen to proceed with a form of expression that is so flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory..."
While the plans for the black mass went on over recent days, Christians rallied to organize prayer services and gatherings around campus and the city to combat the attempt to offend them. Harvard University president Drew Faust was also set to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction at St. Paul's Church at the university in order to show support to Catholics and Protestants who were offended by the upcoming satanic event.
"The black mass is a contradiction to the Catholic faith and is rooted in hatred and bigotry," said Harvard Catholic Center Senior Chaplain Rev. Michael Drea to the Boston Herald. "The university shouldn't tolerate something like this under the guise of academic integrity."
Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club issued the following statement prior to the cancellation regarding the controversial event.
"The performance is part of a larger effort to explore the religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture," said the Cultural Studies Club at the Ivy League College in a statement. "Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices."
However, Boston's Roman Catholic Archdiocese disagreed saying:
"For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the church provides clear teaching concerning satanic worship," the archdiocese said. "This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil," said Boston Archdiocese.