Okay, I have a disclaimer. I have been a part of three renovations of churches in my 35 years as a priest. The first one was when I was a very progressive young priest. It can rightly be called a "reckovation." It occurred in 1980. I wasn't the pastor, but I supported vociferously the reckovation of a 1950's style church building. Rambusch of New York was the consultant and they are perhaps the kingpins of reckovations of churches in the 1970's!
About 15 years ago another pastor did a sort of restoration and expansion of the same church. The original reckovation was quite costly and very divisive at the time and took a great deal of energy to ramrod through. A lot of hurt and alienated feelings occurred.
On top of that, the original reckovation had the new altar more centrally situated with seating on three sides and was only two steps up from the nave and could not be seen by people when they were standing! YIKES!
My next renovation occurred some years after I became pastor of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta. It was in disrepair and crumbling. It really wasn't a renovation but a restoration and the people supported it wholeheartedly and from the entire city. Other parish parishioners were very supportive morally and financially! The final product, although somewhat expensive was a vast improvement and secured the future of the parish church building that was begun in 1857 and completed in 1863. I don't think there were any hurt feelings or alienation over this one.
My next renovation/restoration was already in progress when I got to my current pastorate in Macon. I had to reorient some of what was going on as we had a unique opportunity with the church already scaffold for restoration of windows, plaster and painting to make sure it was properly renovated for the liturgy in both forms.
The liturgical consultant procured prior to my arrival helped us to restored the church to the proper colors and artwork. Not all were pleased with everything and prior to my arrival there was a group of parishioners trying to prevent certain things.
The biggest controversy that I created was the removal of the altar railing. I should state however, I worked through three parish groups to make the changes in the renovation plans and with unanimous approval of all three groups. These are and in order of approval, the restoration committee, the pastoral council and the finance council, which eventually led to the bishop's endorsement.
But why would a bishop or priest do something to a church or cathedral that isn't needed? I think in particular of the cathedral in Milwaukee which can truly be called a reckovation. It's nice and things are clean, but it isn't what was intended for this style of architecture.
The other is what is happening in New York City's Church of Our Savior. The New Liturgical Movement has an article on the controversy. You can read the article by pressing these two sentences.
But the current pastor seems to be creating unnecessary consternation by the undoing of a restoration that occurred only 12 years ago. There is no reason whatsoever to waste perfectly good artwork by removing it and then saying he's trying to restore the Church to the original vision. So we have a waste of expensive artwork and then the expense of taking it down and putting something else up.
When priests and parishes become interior decorators constantly changing this, that and the other and simply for aesthetics, Houston (or Rome) we have a problem.
The article I link above has the two pictures I post below:
This is the original look of the Church as restored 12 years ago:
How much does the iconoclasm cost and the eventual new art work that will replace it?
Is this really necessary or does the pastor simply like being an interior decorator? I ask; you answer.