“I invite all Catholics to pray daily for divine protection through the intercession of this heavenly patron who once defeated Lucifer in his rebellion against the Almighty and who stands ready to assist us in this hour of need,” he wrote.
Archbishop Coakley also asked each parish to conduct a Eucharistic Holy Hour with Benediction at least once between the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Aug 15, and Sept. 21, the date of the planned black mass. On that day, he plans to conduct a holy hour and outdoor Eucharistic procession and benediction at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Oklahoma City at 3pm, four hours prior to the performance.
Among parishes participating is Christ the King in Oklahoma City. A spokeswoman, Kelly Fanning, described the mood in the archdiocese: "As you might expect, the mood among the Catholics with whom I’ve had direct communication about the matter is mixed, ranging from those who worry that we may be ‘over-reacting’ and inadvertently giving the black mass more attention than it might otherwise receive to those who feel strongly that this challenge to decency and all that is good and right must not stand without every effort of community advocacy, political action and, most importantly and perhaps most effectively, prayer."
The archbishop also asked Catholics in the archdiocese to contact Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett to express "outrage over this offensive and blasphemous sacrilege and this misuse of a tax-supported public space."
The mayor’s office has heard from many people since the archbishop first sent out a press release in early July, said a city spokeswoman. There has been an increase in these contacts since the archbishop’s new letter to Catholics was published Monday, she said.
"We can say that we’ve had calls from several states, and know that several from Oklahoma have spoken up," said the spokeswoman, Jennifer Lindsey-McClintock. "Overall the feedback has been that of anger and disappointment."
Archbishop Coakley first spoke out against the plans for the black mass in early July, when it was learned that the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu planned to stage the ritual. That news followed a similar controversy in the spring, when a New York Satanic group tried to present the rite at Harvard University. A large outpouring of Catholic prayer and protest led to the cancellation of that event.
Archbishop Coakley’s letter followed a similar appeal from Bishop Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa, Okla., who asked Catholics in his diocese over the weekend to fast and pray from Aug. 6-15 so that the black mass may be cancelled.
Jim Brown, general manager of the Civic Center, has said that as a public facility, the center could not turn down a group that wanted to rent space there, as long as the group was law-abiding. Archbishop Coakley wasn’t buying that argument.
“It is hard to imagine the Civic Center turning a blind eye and allowing a group to use its facilities to burn a copy of the Koran, or to conduct an overtly anti-Semitic performance,” he said in an earlier statement.
John Burger is news editor for Aleteia.org’s English edition.