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'Satanic black mass' at Harvard cancelled at last minute; held elsewhere

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A “satanic black mass” planned by the Cultural Studies Club at Harvard was cancelled due to the intense and widespread reaction against it, many calling it an affront to the faithful. According to the Boston Globe on May 13, the Cultural Studies Club pulled its sponsorship of the event in response to the protest. The mass was held elsewhere.

Earlier in the evening, the Cultural Studies Club had decided to move the mass off campus. “The Harvard Extension School is grateful the student group has recognized the strong concerns expressed by members of the Harvard community and beyond,” Robert Neugeboren, dean of students and alumni affairs at the extension school, said after the decision was made to find a new location.

After those plans fell through, the Cultural Studies Club decided to simply cancel the event. “The Satanic Temple has informed us that they will stage their own black mass ceremony at an undisclosed private location 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,’ ” the Cultural Studies Club said. A scaled down version of the original mass was held at the Hong Kong lounge in Harvard Square.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boson held a Eucharistic procession beginning at the MIT Chapel, following up with a holy hour at St. Paul Church in Harvard Square. The Rev. Michael E. Drea said people of faith “all recognize the message of the Satanic black mass, they recognize it for what it is: an act of hatred . . . for the Catholic church.” The procession drew hundreds of worshippers.

Commentary on the actual mass was reported in the Harvard Crimson.

“About 50 people, mostly dressed in black and some wearing face makeup, were present for the ceremony. A consecrated host, believed by Catholics to be the body of Christ, was not used in the ritual.

“Four individuals in hoods and one man in a white suit, a cape, and a horned mask were active in the proceedings, as well as a woman revealed to be wearing only lingerie. The ceremony began with a narration on the history underlying Satanism and the black mass ritual.

“The restaurant’s owner, Paul Lee, said in a phone interview around 11 p.m. that he was unaware of the incident. The Hong Kong is located on Massachusetts Avenue, directly across the street from Harvard Yard.”

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