The Monday night ceremony was moved off campus at the last minute after Cardinal Sean O’Malley led the protests.
The Boston Globe reports that the re-enactment of satanic rituals, known as a ‘black mass, had been scheduled for Monday evening on the Harvard campus.
The report says it was abruptly cancelled amid a chorus of condemnation from Catholic groups and university officials and students.
A scaled-down version of the event, without the original sponsorship of the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, was reportedly held late Monday by members of the New York-based Satanic Temple at the Hong Kong lounge in Harvard Square.
Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in an e-mail at 10:35 p.m. that the mass was ‘happening now’ at the Hong Kong but did not say how many people were participating or provide specifics on what was happening.
A lounge employee told the Boston Globe in a phone interview that temple members were drinking at the bar but he did not believe they were performing any rituals. He said: “I haven’t heard any complaining.”
Greaves told the Boston Globe that the mass was cancelled because organizers no longer had a venue.
He said: “Everyone involved, outside of the Satanic Temple, got really scared. And I don’t necessarily blame them, because I understand that they were getting a lot of vitriolic hate mail, and I don’t think they expected it.”
Groves spoke after the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club decided to move the mass off campus.
Robert Neugeboren, dean of students and alumni affairs at the extension school, said: “The Harvard Extension School is grateful the student group has recognized the strong concerns expressed by members of the Harvard community and beyond.”
The cultural studies club said late on Monday that it was no longer sponsoring the mass after plans to hold it at the Middle East club in Central Square in Cambridge fell through.
The studies club said: “The Satanic Temple has informed us that they will stage their own black mass ceremony at an undisclosed private location.
“They wish 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.”
Protests against the ‘black mass’ included a Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston led Eucharistic procession that began at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology chapel in Cambridge Monday evening, followed by a holy hour at St. Paul Church in Harvard Square.
Marcher Jon Swedberg told the Boston Globe: “I am strongly opposed to the black mass and want to pray to the Blessed Father on behalf of what’s happening.
“I find the black mass offensive as a Catholic. I find it goes directly against the faith of my church, the faith of the church of my choice.”
The report says more than 1,500 people packed the church for the holy hour, including Drew Faust, Harvard president.
Rev. Michael E. Drea, who led the holy hour prayers, said: “Tonight, my friends, we gather in this moment of prayer, as a parish, a university community, to celebrate the greatest gift that God has ever extended to us, His son Jesus Christ.
“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.”
However Dani Mellen, 25, of Jamaica Plain, told the paper she had wanted to attend the black mass. She said that she is not a satanist, but was curious to see how the black mass worked.
She said: “I understand it was supposed to be a re-enactment of what a satanic mass would have been. I’m not totally sure, because I’ve never attended one, but I was excited to because I have a thirst for knowledge.”
The report adds that Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley and Faust had been at odds over the university’s initial decision to allow the re-enactment on campus.
O’Malley told the Boston Globe that the event was disturbing and that the satanic ritual is believed by critics to mock the Roman Catholic religion.
He said: “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.”
Here's the CBS report from Tuesday evening: