By now you’ve heard about the Harvard University affiliated group that was planning to reenact a Black Mass. I have stayed relatively quiet about it, just as I do most things, waiting until all the facts are visible and then making an informed opinion on the matter. Boy, how many arrows in history could have been saved should more people have that approach to controversy.

The timeline has played out interestingly since the news made Catholic headlines. The group was “reenacting” a Black Mass, not performing one. They did not plan to desecrate a consecrated host, and, as required for a Black Mass, were not going to orgy in its presence.

But today the Harvard President, Drew Faust, has issued a statement.

The president calls the event “abhorrent”, because “it represents a fundamental affront to the values of inclusion, belonging and mutual respect that must define our community.”

Really? It’s not abhorrent because it would mock and desecrate the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Lord of the universe? To this president, it’s abhorrent cause it’s not inclusive.

The statement is concluded with:

Nevertheless, consistent with the University’s commitment to free expression, including expression that may deeply offend us, the decision to proceed is and will remain theirs. At the same time, we will vigorously protect the right of others to respond—and to address offensive expression with expression of their own.

I plan to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour and Benediction at St. Paul’s Church on our campus on Monday evening in order 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.

What do you think? I’m not satisfied with this and it looks like one Cardinal O’Malley agrees. It looks like a well constructed political washing of the hands. As if the president is saying, “Both sides should do as they please, but I’m going to Holy hour”. Rather than get involved as a person of authority, the president opts to stay on the sidelines. That’s no leader to me. Doing nothing in the face of evil is advocating evil.

How far do we take the definition and use of “expression”? Is spitting in someone’s face an expression? Is burning a Koran or an American flag an expression? Perhaps. But even expressions are acts and each act has a moral determination.

These are my thoughts so far. I’m interested in hearing what you have to say. Leave your comments in the box below.