Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 15 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Isidore the Farmer
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

The Struggle Against the Black Mass, From Oklahoma Archbishop’s Perspective

Archdiocese of Boston

John Burger - published on 09/19/14

Long Debate Over Use of Public Building for Satanic Ritual Comes to a Head Sunday

Ever since he first learned of a local satanic group’s plans to use a public theater to perform a "black mass," Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City has been urging public officials to cancel the event and asking Catholics to pray for that intention.

He has been unsuccessful, and this Sunday, the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu will take to the stage in an 88-seat theater within the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall to reenact a ritual that is an inversion of the Catholic Mass. Though they were forced to hand over what they claimed was a consecrated Host, which they planned to desecrate during the ritual, the sect still plans to perform their own version of a "consecration" over a substitute "host," as well as a "Satanic Exorcism."

Outside, groups opposed to the use of public space for this event will be praying and protesting. Archbishop Coakley will be leading a prayer vigil several hours earlier at an Oklahoma City church. 

Aleteia spoke with Archbishop Coakley Friday about his attempts to keep the black mass out of Oklahoma City and to strengthen his flock through prayer.  

This year, we’ve seen attempts to perform the black mass for the public in two places—at Harvard University and in Oklahoma City. We see a group called the Satanic Temple attempting to install a statue at the Oklahoma State capitol and the same organization announcing that it will open 15 chapters nationwide. In your view, is there a rise in Satanic activity? If so, what accounts for it?

There certainly seems to be a new boldness among satanic groups in that they’re coming out of the shadows, which is where they’ve been very comfortable dwelling up until now, and displaying a much more public face. I’d never heard of a public black mass before the event that was scheduled at Harvard, only to be followed by the one here in Oklahoma City.

So there certaily seems to be an increase in public satanic activity; whether that indicates that there is more satanic activity, I don’t know. it could well be with the rise of secularism and the growing fashionable nature of atheism these days. It kind of leaves the door open to this kind of interest or curiosity and influence.

Going back to this summer, as this story was developing, can you tell me about your negotiations with city officials when you were trying to convince them to cancel this event? What was each side’s basic position, and why did they not seem to get it that this sort of thing is deeply offensive to Catholics?

In my conversation with our city officials, they indicated that they found the event deeply offensive as well. Though none of them around the table were Catholic, they found that this was offensive to all Christians.

But as their justification for doing nothing to stop it, they indicated that they were bound by the Constitution, bound by their own by-laws, the fact that the city had to remain neutral about the kinds of programming that would take place in a public facility.

The bottom line was that they were afraid of a lawsuit, and that they were not willing to risk a lawsuit and the costs to taxpayers to defend a lawsuit, which they felt was unwinnable.

As they appeal to the First Amendment, so might also the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu, so might also the Satanic Temple, which wants to install a statue of Baphomet at the state capitol. Is it a challenge for you, to come up with an argument that trumps an appeal to the Constitution, to religious liberty?

For one thing, I think there are other regulations restricting what can be placed on the steps of the state capitol. There are all kinds of codes, and I think anybody who wants to can’t come along and place the monument of their choice there. I think they permitted the Ten Commandments to be placed there because the capitol is the place where lawmakers make laws, and the Ten Commandments are a set of laws, so it had a certain fittingness, whereas there’s nothing fitting or appropriate between a statue of Satan and what takes place within the capitol.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
PoliticsReligious FreedomSacramentsSatan
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
Philip Kosloski
Ascension vs. assumption: What is the difference?
Philip Kosloski
What happened between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus?
I.Media for Aleteia
These 30 shrines will lead the Rosary Relay for end of the pandem...
J-P Mauro
We need better church music, say Catholics in the Philippines
Philip Kosloski
What was the message of Our Lady of Fatima?
Larry Peterson
Benedict XVI called him “one of the most unusual saintsR...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.