On May 7, the Catholic League protested a scheduled “Black Mass” on the campus of Harvard University; the Satanic event, which was designed to ridicule the Mass, was set for May 12. But it was cancelled just hours before it was to take place.
The initial response from the university was wholly unsatisfactory, but on the day of the mock reenactment of the Mass, Harvard University President Drew Faust issued a letter condemning the event. She stated that students have freedom of speech, but she also spoke against the obscene content of this speech.
President Faust branded the mocking of the Catholic Mass “abhorrent,” saying it was “deeply regrettable that the organizers of this event [a student group affiliated with the Harvard Extension School]…have chosen to proceed with a form of expression that is so flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory.”
President Faust attended a Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction at St. Paul’s Church on campus that evening, and she joined Catholics to denounce the event. The students who sponsored it decided to move the Satanic presentation off-campus, but found trouble finding a home.
Bill Donohue issued another statement after President Faust released her letter. He commended her for her words and deeds, but said she could have done more. He drew a distinction between an arena and a university, maintaining that the latter is a community engaged in the pursuit of truth. Hence, it is not obliged to welcome speech that is wholly designed to insult.