New clericalism is imposing old ways on modern church architecture – National Catholic Reporter (weblog)

Church architecture has turn into a frontline of the liturgy wars as Catholic church buildings bear re-renovations. Michael DeSanctis, a church constructing marketing consultant and theology professor, is not happy.

Restoration-minded pastors, most who got here of age properly after Vatican II, are ordering the modifications. Gone are what they generally disparage as "Pizza Hut" church buildings. The purpose is to revive custom. They impose altar rails, the location of the Blessed Sacrament close to the altar, and use costly marble on the ground to seal off the sanctuary space as a sophisticated and unique enviornment for clerical liturgical motion. Generally the choir will get relegated to a again loft, offering disembodied sound. In different parishes, round seating preparations are deserted in favor of lengthy rows of pews.

DeSanctis, a professor of positive arts and pastoral research at Gannon College in Erie, Pennsylvania, writes in Emmanuel Journal that these modifications in church architecture are manifestations of what he describes as a new clericalism. The purpose is to set off the priest from his congregation, in opposition to a Vatican II theology that targeted on lay participation and the de-emphasizing of obstacles.

"Architecture is how we categorical our liturgy," DeSanctis lately advised NCR in a telephone interview, noting that the era of submit-Vatican II monks routinely got here out of the sanctuary to work together with their parishioners throughout liturgy. They constructed church buildings with a spotlight on round design, to carry the congregation nearer collectively, as properly lowered the altar to carry the priest nearer to the congregation.

However that has modified with the emergence of many youthful clergy, schooled in seminary with the considered Pope Benedict, who re-emphasised clerical distinctions. Throughout the nation, DeSanctis has observed what number of pastors are redesigning the suburban church buildings constructed within the 1960s and '70s with a spotlight on priestly motion.

This motion comes on the expense of Catholics who got here of age in Vatican II, lots of whom are unimpressed with rearranging the church furnishings to emphasise clerical standing. DeSanctis, 60, stated many Catholics he is aware of simply transfer on to a different parish when the zeal to re-renovate modern design involves their parish. They do not respect the nostalgia for a pre-modern church, and sometimes resent the prices incurred.

"We simply do not buy the classes any longer. Respect needs to be earned," he stated.

In his article, DeSanctis affords a protection for the a lot-maligned modernist suburban church, with its focus on nurturing neighborhood.

He begins with St. Jude the Apostle Church in Erie, a product of postwar Catholicism. It is a modernist construction with a particular summit cross, constructed to be "a spot of worship fully at house within the modern world."

DeSanctis writes: "Modernity was one thing the individuals of St. Jude discovered neither overseas nor particularly threatening however a situation of life as potent to the imaginations of affluent, faculty-educated Catholics in submit-World Warfare II America as the traditional rites of their church. A distinctly modern atmosphere pervaded each inch of the shiny, suburban panorama they'd chosen to inhabit with their younger households."

St. Jude's, he notes, match into the modern suburban American panorama, and that was its power, nothing to feel sorry about, even when it did not seem like the cathedrals of old Europe.

Nonetheless, that mannequin has modified. St. Jude's has undergone a re-renovation in recent times.


YouTube video of St. Jude's church in Erie, exhibiting components of the constructing design in and out.

Elaborate candles now function boundaries to mark off the sanctuary from the pews. The altar space has now been reworked by marble, visually setting itself off. The brand new architecture, meant to recapture conventional components, has a "have a look at me" clerical mindset, writes DeSanctis.

He notes that such modifications are examples of "fussy territoriality" expressed by means of bodily modifications made by "a wave of monks intent on undoing the achievements of their fast predecessors, a era or two of males animated by the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council."

DeSanctis expressed concern that his language is likely to be too off-placing, however he stated the criticism is justified. He sees an ally in Pope Francis, who decries making church buildings into museum items and has expressed wariness about focus on the externals of liturgical garb on the expense of welcoming and proclaiming the Gospel.

He conceded to NCR that there was unhealthy modernist design by means of the previous few a long time, a lot of it castigated by younger clerical restorationists. But, he stated, "The church cannot persist in making one really feel that we're residing within the Center Ages."

His design purpose is "to provide you with a liturgical and architectural fashion that is genuine for our time." As examples, he factors to St. Michael's Church in Wheaton, Illinois, a design he consulted on, and the Cathedral of Christ the Gentle in Oakland, California.

Modernist fashion, he stated, needn't be superficial. It will possibly communicate to the deepest human impulse, as a lot as the good European cathedrals. For examples, he famous the influence of modern America's nice monuments, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and the 9/11 Memorial at New York's World Commerce Heart, each of which encourage reverence and supply locations to specific deep unstated emotion.

Church architecture must carry clergy and laity collectively, notes DeSanctis, not present extra alternatives for separation. It is his hope, he writes, "that monks of all ages and liturgical persuasions would start to treat their office much less a refuge from the lay trustworthy of their cost than the very level of entry into fuller union with them at any time when the Church provides voice to its prayer."

[Peter Feuerherd is a correspondent for NCR's Field Hospital series on parish life and is a professor of journalism at St. John's University, New York.]

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New clericalism is imposing old ways on modern church architecture - National Catholic Reporter (weblog)