The many issues left unprobed by the coverage of the recent controversy over the proposed Black Mass at Harvard are beyond addressing at this point, probably, so inadequate has been the coverage and, indeed, the arguments on both sides.

It is a measure of the degree of misunderstanding now current that I, an active Anglican who attends Mass every day when able, am an enthusiastic supporter of the right of those proposing to have this Black Mass to do so wherever and whenever they like. 

Let me be clear. I do not approve of this ritual, which -- as I see it -- is obscene.

Neither do I approve of burning the American flag. But I also support everyone's right to do that, should they chose to.

And, if they are Nazi sympathizers, to march around in aid of that equally vile ideology.

The First Amendment is a priceless inheritance and must be honored to the fullest extent possible.

Interestingly, the response of many Catholics to this provocation has been to trot out long-disused and rather problematic devotions like processions of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Hours and Benediction, all extremist services today, liturgically disowned by progressive Catholics since Vatican II, that are themselves popularizing, sentimental survivors of medieval abuses of the Eucharist.

There was one church in Boston where it is said electric lights in the form of stars flickered in the ceiling at the elevation of the host at Mass. There have been reports of South American countries where 'honor guards' in church presented arms at the same event. None of these things reflect honor on the Eucharist.

Particularly offensive has been the rather puerile defense of those who claim Harvard is anti-Catholic and is thus sympathetic to this group's desire to hold a Black Mass of some sort. Former Boston Mayor and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn, who very likely knows the name of the church with the stars in the ceiling, implied this on Greater Boston last night.

Nonsense. Most progressive theologians of his church would argue that the way has been led in such matters by the age-old and virulent anti-Semitism of all Christian traditions. No one should be casting such stones.

I have actually seen the American flag burned in Harvard Square, at the famous riot which occurred when I was a student there. So perhaps it was fitting the Black Mass was held after all at a Chinese restaurant not far away.

Meanwhile, one expects better discourse than this in the nation's intellectual capital.

Douglass Shand-Tucci is a historian of American art and architecture who has written widely on Boston/New England studies. He is a parishioner of Trinity Church, Copley Square.