Open letter to Harvard President

Following is the open letter sent May 12 by past President of the Harvard Catholic Student Association Aurora Griffin to Harvard President Drew G. Faust accompanying a petition with 60,000 signatures of Harvard students, alumni, faculty, affiliates, and friends condemning the reenactment of a satanic 'black mass' that was to be held by a Harvard Extension School student group on campus that evening.

Dear President Faust,

Nearly 60,000 students, alumni, faculty, affiliates, and friends of Harvard stand against the Harvard Extension School's Cultural Studies Club's satanic "Black Mass" re-enactment in the basement of Memorial Hall on this evening. We have signed local, national, and international petitions. Copies of the signatures from the petition are attached.

I appreciate that you have expressed solidarity with us, but I take the time out of this stressful finals period to acknowledge the great number of people who have asked me to serve as their ambassador. As a woman, I am disturbed by their use of the female body as an object: their ritual involves exposing and maltreating a woman's genitals. As a Catholic, I am deeply distressed that they will be targeting the most important object of my religion, the Eucharist and intentionally desecrating it. And as a board member of the Harvard Alumni Association and a Rhodes Scholar from Harvard, I am ashamed that my University is allowing such a hateful event to happen under the auspices of "education."

The Harvard Cultural Studies program claims to emphasize the ritual's history. Historically, the "Black Mass" mocks religious beliefs, defiles sacred items and symbols, and purposely insults the spiritual sensitivities of Harvard's Catholics, Christians, and other people of faith.

This form of satanic worship not only ridicules the central practice of Catholicism, the Mass, but it also offends all who have faith in Christ. Far from promoting an understanding of "cultural practices," the event does the opposite: it promotes contempt for the Catholic faith and religion generally. Catholics, other Christians, and supporters of genuine tolerance and civility are rightly offended and outraged that Harvard has permitted such an event. This is not a matter of free intellectual enterprise: if this University is truly committed to diversity and tolerance, it must not condone such hateful practices, especially by renting its space to them. Moreover, we who are members of the Harvard community fear for the University's reputation and for what Harvard's stamp of approval will do to the University's relationship with its alumni, students, faculty, and the global community it aims to serve.

I, with the 60,000 people listed, respectfully request that you and the Harvard administration do all in your power to prevent this hateful event and the great hurt it intends to so many. Regardless, I look forward to seeing you at the Holy Hour this evening!

Aurora Griffin is a board member of the Harvard Alumni Association, past President of the Harvard Catholic Student Association and a Rhodes Scholar from Harvard, Class of 2014.

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