May 12th, 2014
10:05 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN) - A Harvard club's plans to stage a satanic "black Mass" were abruptly cancelled Monday after drawing fire from the Archdiocese of Boston and condemnation from the president of the Ivy League school.
Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the New York-based Satanic Temple, told the Boston Globe late Monday that the event was called off because no venue was available.
“Everyone involved, outside of the Satanic Temple, got really scared,” Greaves told the newspaper. “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."
Greaves was not immediately available for further comment.
A petition to stop the black Mass had garnered 60,000 signatures, according to Aurora Griffin, president of the Harvard Student Catholic Association.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club had planned host the two-hour ceremony at the Queens Head pub in Memorial Hall in on the school's campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is unclear why the building was no longer available.
The history of black Masses is murky, but Catholics say the intent of such ceremonies is obvious: to mock their rituals and beliefs. The Masses often parody Catholic sacraments, such as Communion, and liturgical vestments.
“Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes," the Harvard student group had said in a statement, "but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices.”
The cultural club said it also plans to host a Shinto tea ceremony, a Shaker exhibit and a presentation on Buddhist meditation.
But Harvard University President Drew Faust called the plans to reenact a black Mass "abhorrent."
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.