Church officials say they will “combat evil” by hosting a positive worship service to counter a Harvard group’s Satanic mass planned for Monday evening.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston will host a Eucharistic procession from MIT to a nearby church for an hour of prayer, The Boston Globe reports.
The religious procession will end up at St. Paul’s Parish in Harvard Square, just a 10-minutes walk from the Queen’s Head Pub in Memorial Hall the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club is set to hold a “black mass.”
A black mass is a ritual performed as a parody of the Roman Catholic Mass.
In an official statement, the Archdiocese said it fears that people who partake in the ceremony are “underestimating the power of Satan.”
Club members say that they are holding the service for educational purposes, but church officials say that the service is offensive.
“The university is allowing this under the guise that it is educational,” said the Rev. Michael Drea, pastor of St. Paul’s Church. “But anything rooted in hatred is not something that should be put in the same category as academic freedom and academic expression.”
Club leaders insist that the black mass is meant to be a historical reenactment and an exploration of other cultures.
“Clearly people are insulted, and I believe that is due to them having no contact with, or understanding of Satanism,” an unidentified club representative said via email Friday.
The newspaper reported that members of the club would not identify themselves and preferred to speak over email.
The club’s representative told reporters that Satanists are often misunderstood: These people are not evil; they just don’t fit in with mainstream culture and choose to “actively embrace their outsider status.”
“Many whom I have met are vegetarians, artists, animal-rights activists, and have a strong sense of community,” the representative said.
Mr. Drea disagreed and said the practice was inherently evil.
“There is no way to misunderstand a Satanic act that degrades the Catholic liturgy,” he said. “There is no misunderstanding; it is just a fact.”
Archdiocesan spokesman Terrence Donilon said in a statement that the black mass is “contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”