OKLAHOMA CITY — Archbishop Paul Coakley has called on Catholics to pray that God might change the minds of the organizers of a “Black Mass” scheduled for later this year in Oklahoma City.
On Tuesday, Coakley expressed his astonishment and disappointment at this event and called on community leaders to reconsider whether it is an appropriate use of public space.
“The ‘Black Mass’ that is scheduled for the Civic Center in September is a satanic inversion and distortion of the most sacred beliefs not only of Catholics, but of all Christians,” Coakley said.
Coakley, leader of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, said for more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide and more than 200,000 Catholics in Oklahoma, the Mass is the most sacred of religious rituals. It is the center of Catholic worship and celebrates Jesus’ redeeming work through his death and resurrection, Coakley said.
In particular, the Eucharist, also known as communion, which Catholics believe to be the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, is the source and summit of their faith, Coakley said.
“That’s why we’re astonished and grieved that the Civic Center would promote as entertainment and sell tickets for an event that is very transparently a blasphemous mockery of the Mass,” Coakley said.
Civic Center Music Hall spokeswoman Jennifer Lindsey-McClintock said the Civic Center Music Hall is a taxpayer funded entity and in that capacity it honors and upholds relevant state and federal laws including the U.S. Constitution, which allows for the free expression of speech and equal protection among all groups and individuals.
Lindsey-McClintock said the Civic Center is a rental facility, meaning it does not produce or fund shows. It hosts more than 2,000 events and performances each year, including religious services from multiple faith backgrounds, Lindsey-McClintock said.
“We appreciate the archbishop’s concerns regarding this event as it applies to people of faith,” she said. “As with any show held in our facility, we work with the production group to ensure no laws or ordinances are broken during the event.”