Not everyone is happy with the restoration and renovation movement. Writing at National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) Peter Feuerherd quotes Michael deSanctis-a liturgical consultant and theology professor at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. DeSanctis believes the trend for restoration and renovation is a case of “new clericalism imposing old ways on modern architecture.”
DeSanctis opines, “Architecture is how we express our liturgy… the generation of post-Vatican II priests routinely came out of the sanctuary to interact with their parishioners during liturgy. They built churches with a focus on circular design, to bring the congregation closer together, as well as lowered the altar to bring the priest closer to the congregation. But that has changed with the emergence of many younger clergy, schooled in seminary with the thought of Pope Benedict, who re-emphasized clerical distinctions.”
Feuerherd quotes DeSanctis, “Restoration-minded pastors, most who came of age well after Vatican II, are ordering the changes. Gone are what they sometimes disparage as ‘Pizza Hut’ churches. The goal is to restore tradition. They impose altar rails, the placement of the Blessed Sacrament near the altar, and use expensive marble on the floor to seal off the sanctuary area as a polished and exclusive arena for clerical liturgical action.”
It is surprising that DeSanctis who is a church building consultant does not seem to be aware of the Catholic teaching about this matter. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs that,
“The People of God which is gathered for Mass is coherently and hierarchically ordered…Hence the general arrangement of the sacred building must be such that in some way it conveys the image of the assembled congregation and allows the appropriate ordering of all the participants… the sanctuary is the place where the altar stands, the Word of God is proclaimed, and the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers exercise their functions. It should be appropriately marked off from the body of the church either by its being somewhat elevated or by a particular structure and ornamentation.”
And then think of the horrible controversy the previous Benedictine Archbishop of Milwaukee did to the once magnificent Milwaukee Cathedral in the early 2000's but with a 1970's mentality:
Frankly, I am not happy to see a broadside on the Milwaukee cathedral on this thread — this is off topic, and there is not even remotely enough information about it in the post on which to conduct an informed discussion about that design. I happen to know a lot about it, but this is not the subject of this thread. The topic here is the interview.
So much for worship, wit and wisdom!