This letter was emailed to President Drew G. Faust earlier this morning.
May 8, 2014
President Drew G. Faust
Office of the President
Cambridge, MA 02138
Dear President Faust,
I am writing to ask you to use your office to intervene to shut down the terribly ill-advised and totally insensitive Satanic Mass that’s supposed to take place on Monday, May 12 at the Queens Head Pub within Memorial Hall.
To argue, as the Extension School’s Press Release did, that it’s about education or freedom of expression or assembly or religion is silly. We all know that if there were to be a seance to communicate with the soul of Adolf Hitler, Harvard would never countenance it, first because we’re clearly dealing with conjuring evil, and second because it would be terribly injurious to Jewish members of the Harvard community and the wider community.
We also all know that if an “independent student organization” were trying to host an event in which there would be reenacting the burning of a copy of the Koran, it likewise would never be permitted, because Harvard would never associate itself with the desecration of Islam’s sacred text or allow its name or property to be used in something that would obviously outrage the spiritual sensibilities of Muslims.
A ceremony invoking Satan, mocking the Catholic Mass and desecrating what Catholics believe to be the Body of Jesus Christ — or if, implausibly, an unconsecrated host will be used, something that is at least meant to symbolize the Eucharist — should be treated in the same way.
It’s not enough for Harvard to put out a press release saying that Harvard doesn’t “endorse the views or activities of any independent student organization.” Harvard simply would never allow itself or its properties to be associated with events that mock the religious beliefs, desecrate the sacred texts, or insult the spiritual sensitivities of Jews or Muslims. Likewise it wouldn’t allow its reputation or institution to be affiliated in any way with the activities or views of an “independent student organization” that was reenacting the lynchings of African Americans or homophobic attacks or violence against women. Harvard would act decisively in those situations, both out of just concern for its own reputation but also out of moral outrage against such insensitivity that clear thinking, ethical people immediately recognize as evil.
You have a special responsibility over Harvard’s reputation as well as occupy the most prominent position of all to demonstrate what Harvard stands for. Please grasp that Harvard’s present acquiescence to allowing its campus to be the setting for this Satanic Mass and its up-until-now anemic response have already brought the University local, national and international derision. The Founders of Harvard would, I think, be ashamed that a school to which they gave the motto Veritas: Christo et Ecclesiae would allow itself to be used in any way whatsoever as the staging for Satanic worship.
Yesterday I was asked by about two dozen people about what my alma mater was doing in allowing this mockery of Catholicism and this acquiescence in the conjuring of evil. I replied that I can’t fathom how this “dear mother” would have lost its capacity to see clearly and promptly how outrageous this is and that for the first time in my life I’m really embarrassed to be associated with Harvard. I’m sure there are many other alumni who are similarly ashamed.
There’s still time to remedy this situation and clearly communicate that mockery and desecration of the religious rites, objects, and sensitivities of others have no place at Harvard.
By shutting this event down and not just dissociating itself from what was supposed to happen but by forcefully condemning it, you would not only remedy the damage to Harvard’s reputation that has already taken place but set the type of example for educational institutions and the broader culture that Harvard has prided itself in setting for 378 years.
I’m hoping that you will use your office to respond as strongly to this insensitivity as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently used his office to respond to Donald Sterling’s racist comments.
That’s what this situation warrants. That’s what you have the power to do. And that’s what I’m asking and praying that you will do.
(Fr.) Roger Landry, AB 92