The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has objected to the decision of Harvard University to allow a Satanic group from New York to hold a "Black Mass," an event scheduled for Monday evening that is being portrayed as "educational."
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club has invited the Satanic Temple from New York to hold the Black Mass in the basement of Memorial Hall on Monday, CBS News reported.
Black Mass is a ritual performed as a sacrilegious parody of the Roman Catholic Mass, and the archdiocese views it as "dangerous." But the club insists the planned event is educational.
"We are hosting a reenactment of a historical event known as a Black Mass. The performance is designed to be educational and is preceded by a lecture that provides the history, context, and origin of the Black Mass," the club said in a statement.
"It is still heavily offending a group. And, what's the purpose?" a student, Farhad Dokhani, was quoted as saying.
"While a piece of bread is used in the reenactment, the performance unequivocally does not include a consecrated host," the club added in the 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. This performance is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture."
The Archdiocese of Boston doesn't see any wisdom in the club's decision to hold the event.
"For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the Church provides clear teaching concerning Satanic worship," the church said in a statement. "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."
"This is not a supernatural ritual," Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves told the Daily News. "We don't believe in the supernatural. And I don't think belief in the supernatural should give you any privilege, since any deeply held belief should be protected."
About Satan, Greaves said, "There's no stronger cultural symbol for the revolt against the general idea of arbitrary authority and revolt against ultimate tyranny. There's no better a construct that can act as a narrative for our works and goals."
Greaves also said his group contacted the Harvard club to organize a re-enactment based on the imaginings of French writer Joris-Karl Huysman in the novel La-bas.
The archdiocese is holding a holy hour starting Monday evening at St. Paul's Church at Harvard.