Just a few months after a black mass reenactment was planned — and then canceled — at Harvard University, another has been scheduled to take place at the Oklahoma City Civic Center on September 21, prompting calls for organizers to reconsider. Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City said in a statement that the archdiocese is “astonished and grieved that the Civic Center would promote as entertainment and sell tickets for an event that is very transparently a blasphemous mockery of the Mass.” “For more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide and more than 200,000 Catholics in Oklahoma, the Mass is the most sacred of religious rituals,” the archbishop said. “It is the center of Catholic worship and celebrates Jesus Christ’s redemption of the world by his death and resurrection. In particular, the Eucharist — which we believe to be the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ — is the source and summit of our faith.” Connected to witchcraft and demonic worship, a black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony structured as a parody of the Catholic Mass. Invoking Satan, the ritual is centered around the desecration of the Eucharist, which is generally done by stealing a consecrated host from a Catholic church and using it in a profane sexual ritual, or defecating and urinating on it. The black mass is offensive to more than just Catholics, Archbishop Coakley noted. “(It) is a satanic inversion and distortion of the most sacred beliefs not only of Catholics, but of all Christians.” He called on community leaders and Civic Center event planners in “a spirit of hope,” asking them to “reconsider whether this is an appropriate use of public space.” “We trust that community leaders — and, in particular, the board members of the Oklahoma City Civic Center — do not actually wish to enable or encourage such a flagrantly inflammatory event and can surely remedy this situation,” he said. In May, a student group at Harvard attempted to host a black mass re-enactment, to be carried out by the Satanic Temple of New York. However, the event was canceled at the last minute amid a huge outcry from the Archdiocese of Boston and the Harvard community. A petition against the black mass drew 60,000 signatures, and some 2,000 people attended a Eucharistic procession and holy hour on the night that the event had been scheduled. Notably, the Satanic Temple of New York has submitted plans to Oklahoma City for a public monument of an enthroned Satan surrounded by two children to counter a monument of the Ten Commandments on the statehouse lawn. The local archdiocese plans to respond in peaceful, prayerful and respectful protest to the black mass scheduled in September should plans continue to move forward, Archbishop Coakley said. “In the meantime, I call on all Catholics in central and western Oklahoma — as well as all men and women of good will — to pray for a renewed sense of the sacred and, in particular, to pray that the Lord might change the hearts and minds of the organizers of this event.”
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