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Archive of May 12, 2014

Pope Francis affirms Ethiopian, Eritrean bishops as model of unity

Vatican City, May 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Addressing the bishops of the northeast African nations Ethiopia and Eritrea at their ad limina visit to Rome on May 9, Pope Francis thanked them for their witness to Christian unity.

“Though you are from different countries and belong to different rites, each with its own particular richness, your mission in service of Christ and his Church is the same: to proclaim the Gospel and to build up the faithful in holiness, unity and charity,” the Bishop of Rome said.

“When that mission is exercised in collaboration and mutual support, the Church, united in the Spirit, breathes with the two lungs of East and West and burns with love for Christ. I am grateful for all that you do to demonstrate this collegial communion which is itself a witness to the unity of the People of God born of faith in Jesus Christ.”

The two nations are located in the Horn of Africa, with Eritrea located on Ethiopia’s northern border. They also border Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, and Sudan. Christians are the majority in both countries, though members of Oriental Orthodox Churches far outnumber Catholics.

Most of the bishops present at the ad limina were of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church of the Alexandrian tradition, and thus closely related to Egypt’s Coptic Catholic Church.

All five Eritrean dioceses are Ethiopian Catholic eparchies, and there are seven eparchies in Ethiopia, eight Latin vicariates, and one Latin prefecture.

Despite these seeming divisions, Pope Francis affirmed the bishops for their union in the faith, “present in your lands from the earliest days of the Church,” which “has been nourished and renewed throughout the years by devoted missionaries who, compelled by their love of Christ, proclaimed the Gospel.”

He exhorted that following in the footsteps of these missionaries, “in our own day, we require again this missionary spirit to announce the saving message of new life in Christ to all of society, not only to those who do not know him, but also to the faithful, so they may hear once more the freshness of the Gospel.”

First among these evangelizers, Pope Francis said, are the priests, who must “themselves be constantly evangelized anew … if they are to be holy and effective heralds of the Gospel.”

This evangelization of priests is, in the first place, a task for seminaries, he said, and should instill “a lifelong love of prayer, learning and self-sacrifice”; but he also exhorted the bishops to take an “active interest” in their priests’ lives and ministries.

“I urge you to be good and generous fathers to your priests, present to them and attentive to their human and spiritual needs, and their ongoing formation in the priesthood.”

“In addition, it is important that a true fraternity among the priests be fostered so that they may accompany one another in their ministry and bear one another’s burdens. In such a way, they will be able to respond more generously to the grace of God in their lives and give witness to the joy of Christian discipleship.”

Pope Francis also acknowledged the work of religious brothers and sisters in the nations, especially those who are missionaries; and thanked the bishops for their catechesis of youth, “who are at that pivotal time of their lives when they are challenged to deepen their relationship with Christ and his Church, and looking to start families of their own.”

“Confronted by so many challenges in contemporary society, including an increasingly secularized culture and fewer opportunities for dignified work, it is essential that wise and committed lay men and women guide young people in discerning the direction of their lives and in securing their future.”

He told the bishops that “together with the priests, men and women religious, and lay faithful of your local Churches, you are called to diffuse (the) fragrance of Christ in the midst of Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

He referred to their peoples’ great suffering from conflict, poverty, and drought.

Eritrea fought a 30-year war for independence from Ethiopia, from 1961 to 1991, during which Ethiopia was also immersed in civil war. The two countries also fought a war from 1998 to 2000 over a border dispute.

A severe drought in 2011 brought millions to food insecurity throughout East Africa, and in 2012, Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s adjusted per capita GDP were $1,300 and $780, respectively.

“I thank you for the generous social programmes which, inspired by the Gospel, you provide in collaboration with various religious, charitable and governmental agencies, aimed at alleviating this suffering,” Pope Francis told the bishops. “I think especially of the many children you serve who experience hunger and who have been orphaned because of violence and poverty.”

“In your loving concern for the poor and downtrodden, may you continue to seek new opportunities to cooperate with civil authorities in advancing the common good.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis said that “conscious of the difficulties you face and the blessings you have received, I join all of you in praying for a renewed outpouring of grace upon the beloved Church in Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

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Miami archbishop laments large-scale incarceration in US

Miami, Fla., May 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami has called for the reform of a “broken” justice system, recommending sentencing reform and better prisoner rehabilitation to address problems caused by mass incarceration.

“Government rightly establishes laws to protect people and advance the common good. But, the human and financial costs of mass incarceration are undermining the common good and do little to protect the citizenry,” Archbishop Wenski said in a May 6 opinion essay for The Miami Herald.

“Rather than throwing away the broken, we should seeks ways to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into the larger society.”

Archbishop Wenski said the U.S. imprisons people at a cost of about $80 billion each year and has the largest prison population per capita in the world. In 2011, about 2.2 million people were incarcerated in federal, state, or local prisons. Some 7 million people were under some form of correctional control.

He said that Hispanics are twice as likely to be incarcerated as whites, and as many as one in three African-American males could be imprisoned at some point in their life.

Archbishop Wenski said these “shocking” statistics are due to mandatory minimum sentencing, increased criminalization of non-violent offenses, and “tough-on-crime policies that introduce youth offenders to the prison system at younger and younger ages.”

Rigid sentences are financially expensive, he said, and harm “the good of families and communities,” adding that prolonged incarceration helps increase recidivism, family instability, and poverty.

The Miami archbishop cited the proposed Smarter Sentencing Act, sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), which would seek “modest reforms” of mandatory minimum sentences and allow options for nonviolent drug crimes, as a way to improve sentencing practices nationwide.

Archbishop Wenski said it is “counterproductive” to invest so much in imprisoning non-violent offenders, urging more government and civil society programs to prevent crime, rehabilitate offenders, provide education, and treat substance abusers. He also recommended more effective programs of probation, parole, and former prisoner reintegration.

The archbishop cited Pope Francis’ reminder that God is in “everyone’s life”, even if that life has been “a disaster” and “destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else.”

Quoting the Pope, he said that God “never tires of forgiving us, never!”

Archbishop Wenski concluded, saying, “contrition, restitution and rehabilitation can better serve the cause of justice than just punishment for the sake of punishment.”

“It is time for healing and to begin the long overdue conversation about how to fix our nation’s broken incarceration policies.”

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Couple leaves everything to begin pro-life movement in Romania

Vatican City, May 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Founders of the pro-life organization Life Nation were present in Rome for Italy’s recent March for Life, and spoke of their decision to return to their native Romania to fill the gap where a pro-life presence was lacking.

“Romania has some of the highest abortion rates not just in Europe but in the world, and the pro-life movement is virtually nonexistent” Dan Calinescu told CNA May 3.

However his wife, Julia, explained that although small, “you see little flickers” of the movement “here and there and they’re growing.”

Originally hailing from Romania, the couple recounted how as children, their parents had moved to Toronto, Canada, during the years of the communist regime and that they grew up there, but that five years ago they “felt a call to go back to Romania and get involved in re-building a culture of life.”

Present in Rome for an international gathering of pro-life leaders May 3 as well as the international March for Life the following day, Dan and Julia spoke of how they helped to begin the March for Life in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, which just celebrated its third anniversary.

“It was actually our biggest year. We had over 2,500 participants and again the key really was, we need a lot of awareness, so we tried to bring about abortion awareness and alternatives. And the March has really helped us to do that,” Julia observed.

Going on, Dan noted that one of the most significant things about the march in Cluj-Napoca is that they were able to reach out “to leaders from the orthodox Church, from evangelical circles and from the Catholic circles.”

“They all showed up,” he stated, “and it showed that if the Church is united then the Holy Spirit really works miracles.”

In addition to launching initiatives such as sidewalk counseling, “which is something pretty trivial, pretty basic in North America” but has been “nonexistent” in Romania, Dan explained that another thing Life Nation does is “aside from abortion alternatives and awareness, Julia and I actually talk to teens in high schools about the virtue of chastity.”

“We introduce the Theology of the Body to whoever is ready to listen, including seminarians, adults, parish youth groups, etc.”

“So we try to take a two-step approach” he continued, “We help mothers in need and raise awareness, but we also talk to future parents, you know, teenagers at that critical age when they’re in high school.”

Reflecting on the significance of being present in Rome with so many pro-life leaders from around the world, Julia stated that it is important “for leaders to be able to get together, because as a leader sometimes you still need a mentor, you’re never a master of the trade.”

“So it was really great for us to be inspired by people that have much more experience than we do.”

Echoing her sentiments, her husband explained that “it’s amazing” and that sometimes because “the pro-life movement is so young, you feel alone and like you just fighting on your own.”

“But just being here I actually call them all warriors, I believe they’re all warriors, so I think first of all that we get strength from this and the other thing we do get is experience.”

“We’ve been really blessed growing up in Canada, and we were exposed to the pro-life activism,” Julia noted, “and now we get to import it” with the programs that are developing.

“All these things we just want to see bloom in Romania, we believe that it can transform the society just as it does overseas. And it’s great to see in all of Europe things are moving.”

Speaking of their hopes for the future of the pro-life movement in Romania, Dan described how “because the whole movement is so new, I think we have an advantage, because if we are proactive now we can win the battle up front.”
    
“So we’re hopeful, we’re very hopeful about the future.”

 

Kerri Lenartowick contributed to this piece.

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Holy Spirit is what keeps the Church going, Pope reflects

Vatican City, May 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his daily homily Pope Francis recalled the conversion of the first pagans to Christianity, explaining that the Holy Spirit brings us beyond our natural limits, and we should not block him with our own plans.

“To use a word of St. John XXIII: it is the Holy Spirit that updates the Church: Really, he really updates it and keeps it going,” the Pope observed in his May 12 daily Mass.

Addressing those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, the pontiff recounted the day’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, in which Peter baptizes a group of pagans and is criticized by the Christian community for doing so because they were “unclean.”

However, when Peter described the vision he had telling him to go to the pagans and how he saw the Holy Spirit descend on them as he did with the Apostles on Pentecost, the Christian community then rejoices that the Gentiles were saved, the Pope continued.

The Roman Pontiff then noted that the Holy Spirit goes where he wills, and that one of the greatest temptations of believers is to block his action by trying to force him to go in one direction or the other.

Drawing attention to how Peter first hesitated to go near the pagans, Pope Francis explained that when he baptized them it was an internal moment of crisis for the early Christian community, because to touch the “unclean” was something “unthinkable.”

“If – for example – tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here ... Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them... And one says, ‘But I want to be baptized!’ What would happen?”

Continuing, the Bishop of Rome observed how Peter realized the truth through a vision, which is that whatever has been purified by God cannot be called “profane” by anyone else, and that by recounting this to them, his criticizers changed their attitude.

“If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” he asked, quoting the scripture passage.

“When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let’s do it this way,’” the Pope went on to say, adding that “Peter in that first diocese – the first diocese was Antioch – makes this decision: ‘Who am I to admit impediments?’”

This is a “nice word for bishops, for priests and for Christians. Who are we to close doors?” he questioned, pointing out that “In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of the ostiary (usher).”

“And what did the ostiary do? He opened the door, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never the ministry of the closed door, never.”

Reiterating how God left the guidance of the Church “in the hands of the Holy Spirit,” the Roman Pontiff explained: “The Holy Spirit as Jesus said, will teach us everything” and “remind us what Jesus taught us.”

“The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in the Church,” the Pope observed, and “he keeps the Church going, keeps the Church moving forward. More and more, beyond the limits, onwards.”

Drawing attention to how it is with his gifts that the Holy Spirit guides the Church, Pope Francis stated, “You cannot understand the Church of Jesus without this Paraclete, whom the Lord sends us for this very reason. And he makes unthinkable choices, but unimaginable!”

Concluding his reflections, the Bishop of Rome encouraged participants to “ask the Lord for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit.”

“Docility in this Spirit, who speaks to us in our heart, who speaks to us in all of life’s circumstances, who speaks to us in the Church's life, in Christian communities, who is always speaking to us.”

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Harvard president: satanic mass 'abhorrent' but may proceed

Cambridge, Mass., May 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The president of Harvard said that a student group’s plans to hold a re-enactment of a satanic black mass are offensive, disrespectful and inflammatory, but will be allowed to proceed for the sake of free expression.

“The 'black mass' had its historical origins as a means of denigrating the Catholic Church; it mocks a deeply sacred event in Catholicism, and is highly offensive to many in the Church and beyond,” university president Drew Faust said in a May 12 statement.

“The decision by a student club to sponsor an enactment of this ritual is abhorrent; it represents a fundamental affront to the values of inclusion, belonging and mutual respect that must define our community,” she continued.

“It is deeply regrettable that the organizers of this event, well aware of the offense they are causing so many others, have chosen to proceed with a form of expression that is so flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory.”

However, the president continued, due to the university’s “commitment to free expression,” the student group will be permitted to continue with its ceremony.

Faust said that she plans to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction to be held by the Catholic community at St. Paul's Church on the edge of campus, to coincide with the black mass.

In doing so, Faust said that she hopes to “join others in reaffirming our respect for the Catholic faith at Harvard and to demonstrate that the most powerful response to offensive speech is not censorship, but reasoned discourse and robust dissent.”

The announcement that the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club is planning a May 12 re-enactment of a satanic black mass on campus has prompted a wave of complaint from the Harvard community and beyond.

A black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony structured as a parody of the Catholic Mass. Connected to witchcraft and demonic worship, it invokes Satan and demons, often in Latin.

The ceremony 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.

A spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, which is staging the event, initially told media outlets that a consecrated host would be used, although the temple and the Cultural Studies Club both later denied this, insisting that only a plain piece of bread would be used.

The Archdiocese of Boston has voiced strong opposition to the event, and many individuals in the Harvard community and broader Catholic community have called for it to be canceled. Critics argue that the university would not allow a re-enactment of a Koran burning or lynchings of African Americans for the sake of free expression, and neither should it allow a sacrilegious ceremony mocking the Catholic faith.

The Cultural Studies Club has defended the black mass re-enactment as educational and dismissed critics as demonstrating a close-minded “paranoia.” The group told CNA that those offended by the event hold outdated views “based on intolerance and ignorance,” which are “arrogant and egocentric.”

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Harvard black mass raises questions about application of tolerance

Cambridge, Mass., May 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Harvard University’s acceptance of a satanic black mass re-enactment on campus raises larger questions of tolerance and whether it is being applied selectively, scholars say.

“If there is a serious question to ask here, it concerns the limits of liberal toleration itself,” said Dr. C.C. Pecknold, theology professor at The Catholic University of America.

“Far from facilitating mutual respect and reasoned argument, such anti-Catholic performances really show how distorted liberal and secular reason is when it comes to respect for religious liberty,” he told CNA May 12.

He referenced the recent resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, whose opposition to redefining marriage came under fire from members of the LGBT community.

“Why is it that a CEO can be fired for upholding traditional marriage as a public good, but an anti-Catholic act such as this one should be tolerated precisely for the sake of liberalism?” he asked.

Pecknold’s comments came in response to the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club’s plans to host a May 12 re-enactment of a satanic black mass on campus. The announcement of the event has prompted a wave of criticism and calls for its cancellation.

A black mass is a sacrilegious ceremony structured as a parody of the Catholic Mass. Connected to witchcraft and demonic worship, it invokes Satan and demons, often in Latin.

The ceremony 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.

A spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, which is staging the event, initially told media outlets that a consecrated host would be used, although the temple and the Cultural Studies Club both later denied this, insisting that only a plain piece of bread would be used.

Responding to widespread criticism, the Cultural Studies Club told CNA that those offended by the event have closed-minded beliefs “based on intolerance and ignorance,” which are “arrogant and egocentric.”

The club claimed that the black mass “began as a propagandistic literary device to justify brutal purges against alleged witches,” saying that “(t)he idea originated with the Church itself.”

However, Pecknold responded that it “is patently false to claim that the idea of the Black mass originated with the Catholic Church itself.”

“The Black Mass is largely a modern invention of anti-Catholic propaganda. Anton LaVey (founder of the Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible) admitted that much.”

“What we really should be asking is what the sponsors of the Black Mass are aiming at. What is their goal?” Pecknold continued.

“The sponsors claim not to be mocking the Catholic faith, but that is precisely what Black Masses are designed to do: ridicule, desecrate and mock that which is most sacred and holy to Catholic Christians. Can you imagine if the same group treated the Jewish or Muslim faith this way?”

“My guess is that the aim is not reasoned argument, but spectacle designed to test the limits of toleration,” he suggested.

Questions regarding the purpose of the black mass re-enactment were also raised by William Edmund Fahey, president of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, N.H.

“As a College President, I am stunned that, under your leadership, Harvard University is hosting an event so injurious to a significant portion of the academic community,” Fahey wrote in a May 12 letter to Harvard president Drew Faust.

“As a Roman Catholic, I am equally shocked that you would sponsor an event which so clearly insults the beliefs and jeopardizes the well-being of every Catholic student, professor, and employee of Harvard University,” he continued.

“Indeed, I would argue that the well-being and beliefs of every member of the Harvard community are harmed. Can we pretend that even a single lie or act of hatred does not tear at the unseen fabric of a community?”

Fahey pointed to a section of the Harvard Handbook which states that certain religious events are “prohibited when the educational and work environment of an individual or the community is jeopardized.”  

“The sponsorship of a Black ‘Mass’ seems clearly to fall in this category,” he said.

He also referenced the university’s hate speech codes, questioning why the school maintains policies against harassing speech but insists on allowing an event that administrators acknowledge to be “abhorrent,” “highly offensive,” and “flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory.”

Questioning how the administration can characterize the event as both repugnant and worthy of encouragement, Fahey called it “sheer intellectual dishonesty” to defend a satanic ritual as an educational or cultural endeavor.

Unlike a Buddhist meditation or a Shinto tea ceremony, which are also being hosted the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, a black mass “has as its fundamental premise the denigration of the central religious act of Roman Catholicism,” he stressed.

“The entire ritual is intended to mock and blaspheme the Christian God, and to call upon and pay homage to powers of darkness which are, as all Satanic worshippers will acknowledge, openly and strongly antagonistic toward Roman Catholics,” he said.

“Rather than foster religious ‘dialogue’ or provide cultural illumination, such a ‘re-enactment’ is in grave danger of inciting feelings of animosity toward the very Roman Catholics whose worship the service mocks and denigrates.”

In a May 12 statement, President Faust said it was “deeply regrettable” that the student group was choosing to host the event, which she described as “flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory.”

“The decision by a student club to sponsor an enactment of this ritual is abhorrent; it represents a fundamental affront to the values of inclusion, belonging and mutual respect that must define our community,” she said.

But despite acknowledging that the black mass “mocks a deeply sacred event in Catholicism, and is highly offensive to many in the Church and beyond,” Faust said that for the sake of “free expression,” the student group will be permitted to continue with its ceremony.

Faust said that to show her respect for the Catholic faith, she plans to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction to be held by the Catholic community at St. Paul's Church on the edge of campus, to coincide with the black mass.

Pecknold noted this, saying, “I trust that far many more will join her in Eucharistic adoration tonight than will have anything to do with the Black Mass.”

“So perhaps the real object lesson here is that God always triumphs in the end, bringing good even out of the most disordered and absurd events at Harvard University.”

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Masses, Adoration held across US in reparation for Harvard event

Cambridge, Mass., May 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholics across the U.S. and around the world are gathering to hold Eucharistic Adoration and Masses in reparation for the re-enactment of a satanic black mass being hosted Monday evening by a Harvard University student group.

Despite the “great evil” of the sacrilegious ceremony, Harvard senior Aurora Griffin told CNA May 12, “there’s been some very good things coming out of the opposition to it.”

She explained that the response to Catholics concerned about the event “has been overwhelmingly positive” and that she has witnessed an “increased affection for the Eucharist” on campus.

The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club sparked controversy when it announced plans to host a re-enactment of a satanic black mass on campus May 12.

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.

A spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, which is staging the event, initially told media outlets that a consecrated host would be used, although the temple and the Cultural Studies Club both later denied this, insisting that only a plain piece of bread would be used.

Amid widespread opposition from across the country, the Cultural Studies Club announced late on the afternoon of May 12 that it would be moved to an off-campus location, according to university newspaper The Harvard Crimson.

In Cambridge, where Harvard is located, the community has organized Eucharistic exposition and a procession May 12 from the chapel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to St. Paul parish, where a Holy Hour will be held at 8 p.m.

St. Paul’s is the university parish and student ministry center on the edge of Harvard’s campus.

In Merrimack, N.H., Thomas More College is holding three days of penance and prayer, from May 12 to 14, in response to the black mass.

“Harvard’s sad decision to go forward with this event despite pleas at all levels indicates, at best, an ignorance of the gravity of this matter,” said the college’s president, William Fahey.

“I have encouraged the student body to remain focused on their final days of study, but to add a degree of spiritual intensity. We are approaching this as an opportunity for reparation for those involved who clearly do not understand what they are doing or the spiritual realities behind even alleged re-enactments of Satanic worship.”

Fahey has asked that all members of the community at Thomas More College make some act of penance and reparation May 12. In addition to Mass, the college will pray a Chaplet of Divine Mercy and sing Vespers.

“Some of our students will show their solidarity with the Catholic communities at Harvard and MIT by driving down and joining the planned Eucharistic Procession from the MIT chapel to St. Paul’s in Cambridge,” Fahey said.

“Our students have the spiritual zeal you would expect of young, ardent Catholics. I think everyone here realizes that this so-called ‘Mass’ does not have the support of many at Harvard, but still, it is a manifestation of evil we wish to counter with acts of prayer and sacrifice.”

A Facebook group organized in response to the event at Harvard has garnered more than 2,200 members who have pledged to go to Adoration on May 12 in reparation.

In addition, an online petition by TFP Student Action calling on Harvard to cancel the event attracted more than 39,000 signatures.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, a parish of the Archdiocese of Denver located in Littleton, Colo., will hold a Mass of Reparation said at 5:30 p.m. The Mass will be said by Fr. Joseph Hearty, FSSP, and will be followed by a rosary and Benediction.

In Alice, Texas, outside of Corpus Christi, Our Lady of Guadalupe parish will hold a Holy Hour at 6 p.m.

In the Diocese of Orange, Blessed Sacrament in Westminster will hold a Holy Hour of reparation.

Holy hours will also be held at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Bath, Pa., and at St. Mary’s in Alton, outside of Springfield, Ill.

Catholics from around the world, including the Philippines, have also pledged to pray in reparation for the black mass.

The monks of Norcia at the Monastery of San Benedetto, Italy, announced a Chaplet of Divine Mercy in reparation as well.

Harvard junior Jim McGlone told CNA that despite the “tragedy” of the event, he has been touched to witness the Catholic community rallying together with Christians and others who have offered their support.  

“I’m really moved to see the way the community has responded to this in action and in prayer,” he reflected, saying that the event has transformed into an “opportunity to come together in the faith.”

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Satanic black mass 'postponed indefinitely' amid outcry

Cambridge, Mass., May 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A satanic black mass re-enactment being planned by a student group at Harvard University has been ‘postponed indefinitely’ and will not take place May 12.

The news was announced by the school’s newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, just over an hour before the event was scheduled to occur May 12.

Originally, the black mass re-enactment was to take place on campus, at a pub in the basement of Memorial Hall. The Harvard Crimson reported late on the afternoon of May 12 that the event had voluntarily been moved to The Middle East nightclub, a short distance from campus. However, shortly afterward, the general manager of the nightclub told the publication that negotiations had fallen through and the event would not be hosted there.

Subsequently, in a breaking news update at 7:45 p.m. Eastern time, the publication reported that the black mass “has been postponed indefinitely and will not take place tonight, according to (a) Satanic Temple spokesperson.”

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.

A spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, which is staging the event, initially told media outlets that a consecrated host would be used, although the temple and the Cultural Studies Club both later denied this, insisting that only a plain piece of bread would be used.

The plans for the black mass had drawn strong opposition from the Archdiocese of Boston, along with many students, alumni and members of the broader Catholic community.

Harvard senior Aurora Griffin told CNA that she presented university president Drew Faust with petitions against the event that had garnered more than 60,000 signatures.

In her cover letter, Griffin explained that the event does not promote an appreciation for cultural understanding, but instead ”promotes contempt for the Catholic faith,” adding that “supporters of genuine tolerance and  civility are rightly offended and outraged that Harvard has permitted such an event.”

Dr. Faust had released a statement May 12 condemning the event as “flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory,” and the club’s decision to hold it as “abhorrent.” However, she stated that the ceremony would be allowed to continue due to the university’s “commitment to free expression.”

Faust had said that as a sign of respect, she would attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour being held by the Catholic community at Harvard in response to the black mass.

Jim McGlone, a junior at Harvard, told CNA while he was “glad” to see the university president use “the strongest language possible” to condemn the event, he disagreed that all speech and expression should be protected in a university setting, given the fundamentally offensive nature of the event.

“It’s too much of a desecration of our Lord and a mockery and parody of our Faith,” he said, to be “an attempt at dialogue – it’s really just an obscenity.”

Rather than merely offering a safe haven for all kinds of offensive speech, he continued, the purpose of free speech is “getting at the truth through discourse,” among people who may have disagreements.

Freshman Bella Gomez told CNA that rather than using freedom of speech and religion to make Harvard a “safer welcoming community for all,” Catholic students “are being solely victimized by it.”

She said she felt “uncomfortable” at the idea of entering campus facilities that had been used for a satanic ritual, indicating that the space would “no longer feel comfortable or safe” for her.

The Cultural Studies Club had defended the black mass re-enactment as educational and dismissed critics as demonstrating a close-minded “paranoia.” The group had told CNA that those offended by the event hold outdated views “based on intolerance and ignorance,” which are “arrogant and egocentric.”

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Liturgical Calendar

September 1, 2014

Monday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

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Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 4:16-30

Gospel
Date
09/01/14
08/31/14
08/30/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: 1 Cor 1 cor 2:1-5
Gospel:: Lk 4:16-30

Saint of the Day

St. Beatrice da Silva Meneses »

Saint
Date
08/31/14
08/30/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 4:16-30

Homily
Date
09/01/14
08/31/14
08/30/14

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