Online Edition – Vol. V, No. 9:
December 1999-January 2000
NCCB November 1999 Meeting –
Bishops’ Discussion of Draft Document Domus Dei
Stresses Sense of Sacred
The last day of the annual three-and-a-half day November meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops is often slow, and busy bishops sometimes return to their dioceses a bit early. This year was an exception.
The bishops had an unusually packed agenda for their fall meeting held November 15-18 in Washington. A main item was the much publicized discussion of the long-delayed implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the 1992 Vatican document on "truth in advertising" in Catholic institutions of higher learning.
The bishops also discussed their plans for restructuring the Conference, combining the NCCB with its social policy wing, the United States Catholic Conference. They also voted on several documents — including a statement on seminary formation and two promoting the Jubilee Year.
There was a lively discussion on proposed US "complementary norms" for five canon laws. Two of these proposals of the Committee on Canonical Affairs were sent back for more work: one on "lay preaching" [C 766], and one that would have required a local bishop’s approval of all "clerics and members of religious institutes" who present on Catholic doctrine or morals on radio or television [C 772.2].
Liturgy items on the agenda included revised guidelines for concelebration, adding Blessed Damien of Molokai to the liturgical calender in the United States, approval of a Spanish-language version of some US Blessings, and a revised Introduction to The Book of Gospels. All were approved.
They also held elections. The new chairman-elect of the important Doctrine Committee is Erie Bishop Donald Trautman, who headed the Liturgy Committee during much of the debate and vote on revisions of the Roman Missal. He is also member of the Committee to Review Scripture Translations. The other nominee was Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco, who had served on the panel of US bishops who helped revise the Lectionary. The vote was close: 132-126.
Why was attendance so high in the final hours of the last NCCB meeting of the millennium?
For one thing, it was the first time in the history of the conference that the bishops have had a chance to confer on one of the most neuralgic issues they have to deal with: church architecture. The discussion was surprisingly frank in its criticism of a 100-page draft replacement for the much criticized 1978 committee statement, Environment and Art in Catholic Worship.
Along with several other discussions at this meeting, the session on Domus Dei also seemed to signal a significant change in the spirit of the conference — a "sea change", as NCCB president, Bishop Joseph Fiorenza remarked in another context.
Although the topic was complex and opinions are strong, all bishops who spoke during this session revealed a strong sense of obligation to make Catholic sacramental teaching clear to a confused society, along with a notable spirit of good will and good humor. Their comments also showed they had done their homework, as one bishop remarked.
Most significant of all is that none of the three dozen bishops who spoke — not a single one — defended removing the tabernacle from a central place within a church.
Because of the importance of this discussion, both in subject matter and as a sign of promise for the future, we present here a complete, unedited transcription of our audio tapes of this final session of the meeting which took place Thursday morning, November 18, 1999.
Helen Hull Hitchcock
Bishop Joseph Fiorenza (Galveston-Houston, president of the NCCB): Now I would like to bring to the podium Archbishop Hanus for the report and discussion on Domus Dei, the new art and architecture document.
Archbishop Jerome Hanus (Dubuque, chairman, Committee on Liturgy): Thank you, Bishop Fiorenza. I’ve asked Bishop Frank Rodimer (Paterson) to join me, since he is the chair of this subcommittee that has been working on this document.
In 1978 the statement Environment and Art in Catholic Worship was published as a statement of the Committee on the Liturgy with the prior approval of the Administrative Committee. While the document was not particular law for the United States, it contained some provisions of universal law. Those binding provisions, however, were not clearly differentiated or footnoted in the document, and, as we all know, this caused some confusion. Since publication of Environment and Art there have been mixed reactions to the document, as well as questions about its authority. Because Environment and Art was a committee statement, the entire NCCB never voted on the text, nor could they amend it. However, the conference did commend Environment and Art in its statement The Church at Prayer: A Holy Temple of the Lord. The basic concerns and criticisms about Environment and Art have been centered on, I think, four points: first, the seeming preference for modernist architecture and stark spaces; second, the treatment on reservation of the Blessed Sacrament; third, the lack of adequate footnotes; and fourth, the fact that the illustrations were taken from only one design consultant and style of architecture.
In October 1994, the Committee on the Liturgy received two varia from a number of bishops asking for a re-evaluation and revision of Environment and Art, and these bishops-as indicated in the introduction, a large number of them were concerned-had these intentions in mind: to make it more timely, to clarify its authority, to reconsider its preference for austere building materials, to provide a more developed theology of the liturgy as the action of Christ and of the priest acting in persona Christi.
In 1996, then-chair of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, Bishop Trautman, appointed a task force, headed by Bishop Frank Rodimer, to review Environment and Art in Catholic Worship in light of the concerns expressed in the varia and in the ongoing discussion.
The names of the task group members are contained in the documentation for this meeting. [They are Bishop Carlos Sevilla (Yakima); Sister Janet Baxendale of the New York archdiocesan liturgy office; Father John Sauer of Winona; and Abbot Marcel Rooney, OSB, of Conception Abbey, Missouri. – Ed.]
The Committee on the Liturgy directed the task group to prepare a new document rather than a revision of Environment and Art, and to prepare a document that could be proposed to the entire conference for discussion, amendment, revision and final vote.
After working for three years, the task group presented a document to the Committee on the Liturgy in May of this year, 1999. After further discussion and some suggestions, the committee approved the document in principle as an appropriate starting point for the body of bishops to shape a document which will be of help to our local churches, and requested time on today’s agenda for a discussion. At that meeting the Liturgy Committee tentatively entitled the document Domus Dei.
I’d like to say just a few words about the structure of the document which you have as Supplementary Document #3, published separately in your packet materials. Domus Dei contains four chapters. The first chapter provides a theological foundation for the provisions which follow. The second chapter describes the spatial demands the rites makes on the church building. The third chapter describes the practical steps needed for building or renovating churches, and the roles of various people involved in the process. The fourth chapter deals with the role of the arts and artists. The final document may include a glossary and a series of discussion questions.
A third point deals with the target audience. The document is written for parish and diocesan liturgy committees, building committees and architects. Where Environment and Art was a document written in a style some have described as "poetic"*; Domus Dei is written as a more practical document. Extensive footnotes have been added to facilitate study and to help people differentiate between the elements that are universal legislation and those which are suggestions.
[* Nathan Mitchell described EACW thus in an article in America October 9, 1999. Mitchell, a former Benedictine priest, is associate director of the Center for Pastoral Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. – Ed.]
Fourth point. There are certain undecided elements which are clear as you study it and as you read it — several decisions about the document which have not yet been made. The liturgy committee needs to decide, to determine the appropriate title for the document — we are not strongly committed; we didn’t have a lengthy deliberation about arriving at this title. The question of the title; how to handle the issue of pictures or images, which would help illustrate the principles in the document; how extensive the footnotes should be, the format in which they should occur; and the glossary and appendix still in preparation.
My final point is the purpose of today’s discussion. The purpose of our discussion today is to solicit your ideas, and to gauge your level of satisfaction regarding key areas of the document. After this morning’s discussion, the document will be revised, and will be presented to you for formal discussion and possible vote sometime in the year 2000. We would appreciate your general reactions to the document: the way in which it is helpful, or not; your level of satisfaction with key elements of the document; and any other suggestions you would like to offer us. In addition to today’s discussion, you will be receiving a suggestion form in a bishops’ mailing later this month to allow you to offer any written comments — from yourselves or those you consult — any written comments you would like to make during the weeks ahead. The committee’s hope is that you as individual bishops, as a body of bishops, will develop ownership of the document, and help the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy in shaping a document which will be helpful.
Finally, we decided not to publish by ourselves this first attempt, although I encourage you to share it as widely as you wish. We wanted you to take the initiative in relating to those persons who assist you: such as your pastoral leadership, various committees and the people of your diocese — those people who assist you in matters of church art and architecture.
I want to thank the subcommittee, the task group, that has spent many, many hours on this already for their zealous work and wish them well in the months ahead, as well as my successor, Archbishop [Oscar] Lipscomb (Mobile, chairman elect of Committee on the Liturgy). At this point then, the floor is open for your comments and suggestions.
Cardinal Bernard Law (Boston): Archbishop Hanus, I think this is certainly an improvement over the document — the previous document — and I thank you for the work and for this process. One question about timing. My understanding is that there will be a new editio typica of the Roman Missal, presumably with a General Introduction which may be different from what is governing this document. So I would hope that we would wait for that.
Archbishop Hanus: That certainly is our understanding. It’s our hope that that’s going to be published within the next couple of months.
Cardinal Law: I would then like to speak specifically to page 44, line 824 and beyond: the location of the tabernacle. I’m encouraged by the ’83 Code more than I am by the other sources that you cite here in terms of a more pastorally acceptable location of the tabernacle. It just seems to me that the notion of the chapel — a separate chapel — is unrealistic given the realities of churches in our country. So, I would register a pastoral concern about the underscored focus of the chapel. I would wonder if that is necessary in the light of the Code, which doesn’t seem to say that. And I would hope maybe the new General Instruction would give us further guidance.
Cardinal Roger Mahony (Los Angeles): Thank you very much, Archbishop Hanus, and especially Bishop Rodimer and the committee. I think that there are many things to commend in the document. It has excellent theological grounding in it, something that we did not have before. It also brings together in one place the liturgical norms affecting church architecture in a way we didn’t have them before. So I am very, very grateful to the subcommittee.
However, I would also like to recommend several next steps in this process. It seems to me that this document would benefit greatly by a much broader consultation across the country, bringing together more of our art and architecture consultants — priests, religious and laity. And I think that if there were, maybe, three or four special hearings on this document across the country in the next few months, this would greatly help us with the final document. I know I’d be very, very honored to host something like that in Los Angeles for the west coast. But I think the document would benefit greatly from an even broader consultation.
It is also a bit apparent that different people wrote the different sections, and it needs in its final form to be brought together with very similar language and format. I’d like to see Chapter 3 divided into, maybe, two chapters. So that one would be on building a brand new church building, and the second one would be on remodeling existing church buildings, so that there would be much clearer guidance to parishes. Some of the bigger problems are not so much building a brand new church, but remodeling existing space. And I think that we could give better guidance.
And then finally, I think the format of the final version — how it would look graphically — could be very important for us. The Canadian bishops, our brothers to the North, published just a few months ago Our Place in Worship; and while I find it quite thin in the theological and liturgical underpinnings which ours is rich in, its format and layout are very user-friendly. And I think if we were to look at some format that would make this a much more usable tool for our parishes and our dioceses in the future, that would be very helpful. So again, thanks for a very, very fine work, a good beginning. I think that we’re moving towards a final, excellent document.
Archbishop Hanus: Just a comment. We certainly are very open to that. As I alluded in my introduction, the reason we didn’t engage in a wider consultative process is that we wanted to give you all more — to get your input first, before we take the basic document out there to use as a point of discussion. So we’re certainly very open to wider consultation, and again encourage you to ask those who work closely with you to comment, to put their suggestions, to rewrite.
Archbishop Theodore McCarrick (Newark): Thank you, Father President. I’m grateful to Archbishop [Hanus] for the enormous work that has gone into this. It’s a monumental gift to the Church in the United States. And I’m sure my distinguished suffragan, Bishop Frank [Rodimer] should be congratulated for the work that he has done in putting it together.
My brief remarks really echo what Cardinal Law has said. I have always had this concern about the placement of the tabernacle, as some of you know. It seems to me that ninety per cent of our people come into church only on Sunday mornings. And if the Blessed Sacrament is nowhere to be seen in the body of the church, they will be missing something very, very important in their spirituality and in the theology. So I would hope that when the revisions are made, and this document is developed that we would find once again opportunity to underline what the Code of 1983 asks us: that the place be prominent and conspicuous. In the Archdiocese of Newark, no new church is allowed to be completed without the Blessed Sacrament being visible to the vast majority of the congregation. I believe that’s important for the spirituality of our people, and I would hope that the committee would consider that as a possibility as they move forward with what is truly a very important and a very necessary document. Thank you very much.
Bishop William Lori (Aux. D.C.): Thank you. I’d like to begin by thanking you for the work that has gone into the text thus far. With all of the building going on right now it’s certainly very needed. If I could make just three quick general comments.
Number one: I do appreciate the efforts to strengthen the theological foundations of the document, but might wish some further strengthening; for example, the way the document currently treats faith and culture. I would like to see more stress on the transformative power of the faith on the culture, rather than simply the interaction of the two. Another example might be the way the document treats the high priestly office of Jesus. It seems to move from Jesus as a ransom for us, to service, without stopping in the middle to talk about the sanctifying power of the Cross as re-presented in the liturgy.
Second is a general observation. I would hope that there might be a little less of a stress on the functional view of the church and a little more stress on the sign value of the church; that is to say, the church as a reminder of the Heavenly City. And to that end I’d like to see more influence of the Rite of the Dedication of a Church on the text itself.
Thirdly, I would just like to support what has already been said about more encouragement in the document for central placement of the tabernacle in the sanctuary. Thank you very much.
Archbishop James Keleher (Kansas City): Thank you, Archbishop Hanus, for your wonderful contribution. I think it’s really going to be a help for us.
I rise to suggest also, as Cardinal Law and Archbishop McCarrick and others have mentioned, the location of the tabernacle. In the archdiocese where I am fortunate to be the archbishop, we never build a church where the tabernacle is not placed visibly in the front. We do have chapels because many of our churches have perpetual adoration. We need a separate chapel for that. I certainly think there are many cases where churches are pilgrimage sites and tourist sites where a separate chapel is most appropriate. However, I think that for our ordinary parishes, where our folks come on the weekend, and their only chance, really, to visit the Blessed Sacrament is on that weekend, I really hope that in the end the document at least allows us that kind of latitude that we can continue to insist that it be there. And I hope that the bishops feel the same way.
And if you recall, Your Excellency, when we built the beautiful chapel at the conference center, in the beginning the tabernacle was, may I say, hidden behind a very decorative wall. But rising resentment in the episcopal body forced it to be taken down, and I think that was a wonderful move. Thank you very much.
Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger (Evansville): I am most appreciative to the committee for their work. A few comments. First, generally it’s a great improvement and a welcome one. To piggy-back on Cardinal Mahony’s comment, the consistency of style of writing needs to be looked at. Also I am happy to hear that the name is tentative. If we speak of sign value: I happen to have been brought up in a rural community which was primarily Protestant, and we were forbidden to even to set foot on the steps of a church that was not ours, let alone go inside. But there was a phrase that was used about those buildings in recent years, and even through seminary: they were called church houses. And I think if we speak of sign value, rather than Domus Dei, which is more the temple of God, where it’s the gathering of the living Church, whether you [might] call it the House of the Church, or something else like that. I would urge you to have some discussion about the sign value, and the gathering of the folks.
I’m going to tackle, or at least address, the question that’s very neuralgic; that is, the placement of the tabernacle. I’ve heard several say already it’s the place people gather only on weekends, and primarily [visited] only on weekends and during the daytime. Our churches, most of them, are locked for insurance purposes — so they can’t get in. However, I’m also conscious that we have several new churches that are putting chapels that are accessible twenty-four hours a day for the adoration of the Eucharist, where the large church is closed. So I think we need to look at that. And I also think we should look at the fact that we have a generation-and-a-half of folks that did not grow up with the piety that most of us did, and hence the presence of the tabernacle in the church. I grew up at a time when you not only had the Eucharist, we had Benediction immediately following Holy Communion. The conflicting sign value that goes with that. So I suggest we try to at least openly look at this issue in light of the current cultural circumstances and what we’re trying to say about our celebrations. Thank you.
Cardinal Francis George (Chicago): Yes, I, too, am very grateful for a draft that has tried to incorporate ideas that don’t always agree among themselves. And it’s a remarkable piece of work. There are three points.
One is — I’m very grateful for the section on pages 77-78 on disabilities. When you talk to people in the disability community, however, there are several problems that aren’t mentioned there. One is access to Exposition chapels, which are sometimes quite difficult to get into. Access also to ambos; it’s alluded to, but it isn’t clear. And need for sound systems that are adequate — and that’s not only for people who are hard of hearing, but even for people who hear well. This is a weak point often, particularly with the emphasis on the Word now and the rediscovery of the first part of the Eucharist as central to our worship. It seems inconsistent that we don’t put money into a good sound system.
The second point has been alluded to. There has been no issue, I think, that has caused us as much pastoral concern — in the renovation of old churches particularly — as where the tabernacle is to be placed in the rite which calls for the priest to face the people. It seems to me that conceptually there is something lacking in an easy distinction between public liturgy and private devotion which enters into the books at times, and certainly enters into the commentaries. What’s lost is public devotion. There is in the life of the Church and in our own souls a sense of public devotion to the humanity of Jesus, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to the Blessed Sacrament. And, therefore, a recognition of that place of public devotion should, I think, be admitted and that might take more discussion than just around a writing of a document such as this. But I think it’s felt deeply. I’m not sure what the answer is. I don’t know myself what I prefer when you talk about where you put the tabernacle.
But I do know that there will be, as Cardinal Law said, a revision of the GIRM. I’ve seen the first drafts of that. I think it is somewhat different from the GIRM we’re working with now, particularly on this question of the tabernacle in a separate chapel. So certainly we have to wait. Otherwise we might bring out this one month, and a new GIRM that does just the opposite or somewhat differently expresses it comes out the next month. Then we’re no better off pastorally, in solving pastoral problems, than we are now.
And the last is a more general point. I wonder if sometimes, because of the diversity, we haven’t tried to say too much in this document — especially Chapter One could be more cohesive. But I thank you very much for the good work.
Bishop Thomas Daily (Brooklyn): Thank you, Mr. President. I would support what Cardinal George said about the disabled. As a matter of fact, I think that perhaps we could even include more about the disabled because the disabled are a great part of our society now with age and all the rest and will tend to probably be much more portion of our society and need accessibility to places of worship. And I rise to do so because I’m a member of the board of the National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities, even as His Eminence is, and as a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Chaplain. The Knights have put in anywhere between 70 and 90 thousand dollars a year since I’ve been on the board, and that’s over ten years. So I just ask the committee to be more conscious perhaps, even though they have referred rather nicely to disabled people, it would be helpful if they could even be mindful especially when we get so many calls — the office gets so many calls — from people who would like to be eucharistic ministers, lectors and altar servers, members of the choir, and also to have some more accessibility to chapels of adoration. In other words, people are more and more interested [Rest of statement inaudible.]
Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, CSB (Las Cruces): Archbishop Gettelfinger suggested the committee should look at the name of the document, perhaps consider the name "House of the Church" or "House of the People of God". I have two other points. On page 18, lines 282 to 292: I know that the intent of the committee was not to give a whole exposition of the church architectural history in the United States, but missing is mention of the churches which predate the churches of the eastern United States that are mentioned: the earth or adobe buildings of New Mexico, for example, the Spanish colonial churches in California, Arizona and Texas. It’s important to mention these because of their place in the history of the Church in what is now the Southwest of the United States, and for the influence their styles continue to have in contemporary church design and architecture.
And then I have a problem with the style, like some bishops already mentioned. I wrote this as best I could: If I could, I would do what I should about the ‘should’s’ and ‘should not’s’ that rabbit-like dance over these pages — 199 of them, to be exact. I know; I counted them. Should we not try to eliminate this six-letter word to the extent possible? "Should" carries with it the character of ambiguity. Should we not attempt also to clarify its meaning? I think we should. [Laughter and applause.]
Archbishop Justin Rigali (St. Louis, member Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy): Archbishop Hanus and Bishop Rodimer, I am very grateful for all the zealous work that has gone into the preparation of this important document. And I am particularly pleased that the document will be a document of the entire conference to be voted on by the bishops.
I would like to limit myself to comment on the place of reservation of the Eucharist, but commenting a bit on what is said in the document itself.
Introducing this matter, the document has an excellent statement, lines 799 to 801, saying, "Following the Second Vatican Council, there has been a fuller understanding of the relationship between the presence of the Lord in the reserved Sacrament, the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist, and the Christian responsibility to feed the hungry and care for the poor." I think this is an excellent direction the document gives. It then says that Eucharistic reservation should be "in a part of the church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer." And this faithfully reflects Canon 938 §2. It is found in lines 811 and 812. After having quoted the norm of the present Code, it then refers to other documents, including the long footnote 165 on page 44.
This footnote refers to an Instruction of 1964 which says the Blessed Sacrament is to be placed in the middle of the main altar, or in another, special, and properly adorned part of the church". Now, obviously, this instruction is not binding any more today, concerning the prescription of placing the tabernacle in the middle of the main altar.
The document then refers to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which was originally published just three years after that other document; namely, in 1967. About this, our document says: "The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that unless it is impossible, it is preferable to reserve the Eucharist ‘in a chapel suited to the faithful’s private adoration and prayer’".
Actually, this is not quite accurate. What the Instruction really says is: "It is highly recommended that the place for the reservation of the Eucharist be in a chapel suitable for private adoration and prayer of the faithful …" But — the document also adds two conditions. Number 1, if this is not possible because of the structure of the church; or, because of legitimate local customs the Blessed Sacrament is to be placed on an altar – or outside of an altar — in a part of the church that is prominent and properly decorated.
My precise point is that this General Instruction of the Roman Missal #276, which is now under revision as has been stated, goes back to 1967. It was a recommendation at that time; not a law, but a recommendation that already contained the two conditions I just mentioned: namely, the structure of the church and local custom. In addition, what was a recommendation has been so often infelicitously applied during the past thirty years. The Blessed Sacrament so often, without regard for the structure of the church or for local custom, has been relegated to places that are neither prominent nor worthy nor beautifully decorated.
What is so significant is that in the Instruction Inaestimabile Donum (1980), then the Code (1983), we no longer find the recommendation for a separate chapel, nor do we find any recommendation against it. What we do find, so well expressed in Canon 938, is not a recommendation, but a law that gives great freedom to diocesan bishops. It says simply the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved should be placed in a part of the church that is "prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer".
So I would suggest that we emphasize this freedom that is given to diocesan bishops by the present code. Thank you.
Archbishop Michael Sheehan (Santa Fe): Archbishop Hanus, I, too, want to thank the committee for the very excellent work that has been done and all of the effort that has been taken for this very important task. I, like so many others, rise to speak regarding the location of the tabernacle. But I would like to point out more the pastoral dimension as I see it. I think we’ve all experienced in our Church in the last thirty years a lessening of devotion to the Eucharist in many places, a loss of the sense of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; and the sense of the sacred has suffered. And I can’t help but believe that placing the Eucharist in a separate chapel, that often is practically hidden, and sometimes very small, has not been a part of why we have a crisis with regard to belief in the Real Presence of Christ. I think that when we take the Eucharist away from the place where the people come for Sunday Mass we tend to lessen their belief. And I think that "out of sight, out of mind" is truly what is happening often.
Not long ago, I was in one of our parishes to rededicate a church that had been renovated. And previously the Eucharist had been in a side chapel, but in the new renovation the pastor brought the tabernacle into the area where it is clearly seen by the people in the church. And as I had the dedication of the renovated church, I asked the people in the homily: "What do you think about the Eucharist being more present to you?" And they burst out in applause. And after the Mass several came up said, "Bishop, when you have the meeting next week with the other bishops, please let them know that most of us Catholics want to have the Eucharist present — more visible to us when we come into our church." So I hope that the document that we are dealing with, in the area especially regarding the location of the tabernacle, will be even more open towards having the Eucharist placed prominently, so that people experience in their prayer life the presence of the Eucharist.
I think, too, that the documents that have been mentioned by other bishops -the documents from Rome – seem to be less and less interested in that separate chapel. I would also mention the Catechism. I didn’t notice the Catechism being quoted in that footnote in which the Code is dealt with, #165. So I would hope that reference would be made to the Catechism as well. But my main point would be the pastoral concern for belief in the Eucharist, and and the sense of the sacred that we need to emphasize more in the document. Thank you.
Bishop Robert Morneau (Aux. Green Bay): I realize that this is a very highly pragmatic document, but I would ask for more consideration of the transcendental beauty. In doctrine and morals we look at truth and goodness. I really think that beauty is transformative, and on pages 21-23 it’s dealt with very briefly. But I really think it deserves more attention and consideration. So I’d ask for a little more thought on that transcendental beauty.
Bishop Edward Braxton (Aux. St. Louis): Thank you, Bishop Fiorenza. Archbishop Hanus and Bishop Rodimer, I too appreciate this important document. I have several observations.
One, in spite of the limitations of its predecessor, there was something user-friendly about the previous document in its succinctness. And so I find myself wondering who our primary audience will be for this document. For example, the ordinary liturgy committee in a parish that might benefit from some of the content, might find it very difficult to work through a document of this scope, and perhaps, in the way it is finally packaged, or the way it is edited, or even a summary may help to resolve that question.
My second concern has to do with the discussion already mentioned by Bishop Morneau concerning beauty. On page 21, the section "The Beauty of Christian Art and Architecture Begins in the Eucharist," and then the line 339: "Beautiful worship should have simplicity of movement, clarity of expression, a harmony between word and ritual, and the avoidance of useless repetition." And, of course, it cites the conciliar documents from the Council and the General Instruction.
However, in light of Cardinal Mahony’s suggestion of wide consultation, I would like to reinforce that idea, because this description of beauty, in a sense, is extremely Aristotelian and Thomistic. And in the light of the worship practices of our Vietnamese-American Catholics, our Hispanic-American Catholics, our African-American Catholics, some of these ideas of beauty and really a whole principle of aesthetics that governs some aspects of the document, might need to be nuanced so that various peoples will find a home in this house of God; and various people will find an aesthetic home. Because the principles summarized in that sentence, while persuasive to certain peoples, are almost contradicted by the beauty seen in repetition in other peoples’ expression, including those I mentioned.
And finally a minor point, but it’s simply one that keeps coming up in my experience. The document makes reference to the question of kneelers and kneeling; but it is not addressed in a way that is particularly clear to me. I think other bishops are finding, in more and more churches, people stand during the Eucharistic Prayer, or there are no kneelers in the church, or there are kneelers in the front but no kneelers in the back. I don’t know if I want to propose that we want to be more forceful about kneeling or not kneeling, but I think we should be a little clearer in the document. Thank you.
Bishop James Moynihan (Syracuse): Archbishop Hanus, you and your drafting committee are certainly to be commended on this draft. There is much that is commendable in it. It’s clearer on the so-called vertical dimensions of worship. It also states the non-normative nature of the conclusions that are reached here. I think in your covering letter you mentioned that this document, this draft, is intended as a replacement for Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, and you’re saying that the reason for the replacement is the fact that there was so much confusion on the authority of the earlier document. But I fear that that confusion might outlive the document itself, because it’s actually mentioned at least fifteen times as the basis for statements that are made in the new document. I’m wondering how wise that is.
Also with regard to the tabernacle, I think that the document’s treatment of the placement of the tabernacle is really misleading. I feel that it would not be helpful if it were adopted, particularly that note to which Archbishop Rigali referred, number 165. The note concludes with reference to a 1977 document. It passes up the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and the 1983 Code makes no reference to Eucharistic chapels. I think that the need for a Eucharistic chapel might be true in some cathedrals, some churches that are such busy places that private prayer before the Eucharist would be a struggle without such chapels, but I don’t believe that that’s typical of our parish churches. Thank you very much.
Archbishop Charles Chaput (Denver): Archbishop Hanus and Bishop Rodimer, thank you very much for your hard work. I have three pastoral questions on issues that concern me. It seems like the document is weak on the role of the bishop in the building of the church. And most of us have had at least some difficulties, and so some articulation of our role in this process, I think — a rather extensive one — would be useful to us.
The document seems to hold a mutually exclusive distinction between not only devotional piety and liturgical piety, but between devotional art and liturgical art. I don’t think that distinction is a very good one. I might ask some reflection on that.
And finally, in terms of my pastoral concerns, the document seems to be unduly cautious about the patrimony of sacred art and architecture that has come to us, both in Western Europe but also in our own country. And it fails to present this patrimony as a standard or norm by which endeavors today should be judged. I don’t think it’s the only thing, but I don’t think we should be too cautious about it. The document should be fair-handed in its treatment of this.
And then I have a couple of canonical issues. In some sections of the document there is a great emphasis on the Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar. But my liturgical staff in Denver tells me that this document is provisional, it’s not even approved. So to use another provisional document to build sections of this document could be difficult if that document is changed. So I think we should seek some clarification about whether or not that document is going to be finalized. Is it correct that it is still provisional?
Archbishop Hanus: That’s my understanding; that it’s still provisional.
Archbishop Chaput: And then, of course, I’d just like to briefly add my voice to those who are concerned about placement of the tabernacle, because I think what’s presented here is just as confusing as what’s come to us before. It presents as a norm for even country parishes standards of the cathedrals. And I don’t think the Ceremoniale of bishops, when it poses the celebration of liturgies of the cathedral as norm for the diocese, means that the cathedral church’s architecture is a norm for the diocese. Thank you.
Bishop Daniel Walsh (Las Vegas): I commend the committee on the process that they give for a parish in developing a new church. But I would also like to see some further explanation of what the liturgical education of a parish should include. Also I want to emphasize what Archbishop Chaput did, the connection with the bishop in building a church. I think it’s very important that the diocese, especially if it’s a corporation sole, have direct input into what’s being built and how it’s going to be paid for. And finally, I would second Cardinal Mahony’s suggestion that we would have a separate chapter for renovation of churches and a separate chapter for building churches.
Archbishop Elden Curtiss (Omaha): Archbishop Hanus, I appreciate this discussion, and the ability for us to work with our staffs to respond to this document. I guess my major concern has to do with page 8: "Christ Makes Himself Present Through the Signs of Worship." It begins with all the baptized, "the assembly", number one; "the Word of God", number 2; "the person of the priest", number 3; and then, finally, "the Sacrament of the Body and Blood".
It seems to me this represents liturgical developments in this country with more and more emphasis on the assembly, and less on the reserved Species. And the assembly, as we all know – there’s a relative degree of faith and perception and awareness in the assembly. Now the conciliar documents – in Eucharisticum Mysterium the emphasis on the Eucharist as the primary way that Jesus is present – I think it’s misleading to say that all four expressions of Christ’s presence are equal, and that all four expressions of His presence should have prominence of place. I think that’s part of the problem that we’re facing.
Prominence of place has to be the altar and the tabernacle where the Eucharistic presence is. In Sacrosanctum Concilium Chapter 1, paragraph 7, it talks about Jesus being especially present in the Eucharistic presence. The words in Latin are tum maxime — maxime — sub speciebus Eucharisticis. I think the basic problem with the document is this liturgical development that has taken us towards emphasis on the assembly and away from the Eucharistic species. And I think that is something that needs to be addressed.
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua (Philadelphia): Archbishop Hanus, I want to thank you, not only for the document, but also for this opportunity to review and discuss it. I found it a very useful draft in spite of it just being a draft. It’s very comprehensive of the Church’s traditional and contemporary concerns. I feel that it includes about every aspect of the Church’s requirements. I did find the style at times a little awkward, and I hope that after all the amendments and discussion that a single editor will rewrite it in a unified and attractive style.
I know much has been said about the site of the tabernacle. I add mine very briefly merely to say that, even though we’re saying the same thing — that it be conspicuous — the fact that so many bishops are saying it should give a signal. If I took a survey of the people in Philadelphia it would be overwhelming that when they walk into a church, they want to see the tabernacle immediately. That’s just to give you some idea of how the people feel about it. And so much of the liturgy is reflective of the attitude and customs of people.
A third minor point is: I don’t know if anyone brought to your attention in footnote 161, on page 43, that the Latin there is not the translation of the English. I think it may be a computer error. You see, the Latin there is really Canon 938 §3, which is given down below in footnote 163.
But the major point I want to make is the narthex, on page 49, line 915, which continues the bottom of page 48. It says there that the narthex is called "a gathering place". If you start on the bottom of page 48, speaking about the narthex, it says: "Today it serves as" and then the next page "an entrance and exit to the building and as a gathering place."
I don’t know if this is a misnomer. Perhaps Domus Dei could be used as an opportunity to clarify the terminology. In any of the documents on the liturgy there is never an equivalent of a gathering place. It’s never been given anywhere. The gathering place of the Christian community is really the Church itself, the nave, where the people gather to express their selves as members of Christ’s Body. The narthex has always properly been the transitional space from the world in general to the sacred space of the liturgy.
The contemporary emphasis on the social dimension of the Christian life has given rise to this idea of a "gathering place". I have no problem with either the idea nor with the people gathering there before and/or after the liturgical celebration. Let it be commodious to meet the Church’s many auxiliary functions. I suggest that the section "The Narthex" be recast to express first its traditional function and need; then, present the additional contemporary needs that it possibly can meet. The need to emphasize its primary purpose is crucial. In so many of our churches already, because parking is not related to the principal entrance, we labor under that counterproductive situation of people coming immediately into the nave from every kind of direction.
Bishop David Foley (Birmingham): Thank you, archbishop, for this discussion. I’d like to address the first part of the document, on the theology, and just suggest that we have wonderful architects and liturgists, but I think the architects who want to serve us — and the liturgists — depend upon our theology. And particularly I see great value in the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s treatment of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in all its dimensions; particularly that the Mass is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as well as the assembly of the people and the communion of God’s people. I think that if they followed in the document the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and tried to at least outline it, it would be very, very helpful to our architects. I find that those architects, and even the liturgists, once they hear the teaching again placed before them simply, it helps them to go on then from there and get the beauty and the function and the needs that our churches have.
The second suggestion that I would have would be: In listening to the people I find, again, that the devotion of people and the love of people for the Holy Eucharist will come forth if we let the people of the parish express their concerns.
And finally, of course, not to be repetitious, but in my diocese I think the centrality of the tabernacle is the center. I found in the document there seemed to be this idea that, well, a priest shouldn’t have his back to the tabernacle. I think the only way we turn our back to Christ is by sin. And I think that I can have a tabernacle in the center for the sake of the people, and that that does not in any way, by the priest saying Mass facing the people, in some way liturgically offend.
Bishop Anthony M. Milone (Great Falls-Billings): Thank you, Bishop Fiorenza. I just want to add my thanks, too, to Archbishop Hanus and Bishop Rodimer and the committee for this opportunity to add a few thoughts. I would ask two things. I would feel very remiss if I didn’t bring to the committee’s attention the request for help from the small parishes and rural churches. There seems to be a kind of a presumption that we’re dealing with mainly large suburban communities. And I know that you want to be sensitive to that, and I just want to raise that. Some help for us in the small places and in the rural places would be really appreciated. And the second request is that whatever you can do to help us with our parish building committees, to make things easier for them to understand and to give them some guidance. Really be appreciated. Thank you.
Cardinal Hickey: Archbishop, I would like to second the position of those who favor the centrality of the tabernacle in the sanctuary. I think this is for several very important reasons. First of all, it makes it possible for us to reinforce our belief in the Holy Eucharist and the Real Presence by the way in which the Blessed Sacrament is greeted as the people come in, make a genuflection; as they keep a prayerful silence before the Mass begins.
I say this as if that is the norm; unfortunately, it is no longer the norm. Our Catholic culture of several generations ago was somehow or other invaded, I believe. And I think we should return to a position of the tabernacle that will make it possible for the genuflection to be reinstated, for the people to pray before the Blessed Sacrament before the Mass, and also for them to keep that sense of prayer when they realize that they are in the Eucharistic Presence of the Lord.
I think also this is important to foster Eucharistic devotions — Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament — it’s very difficult otherwise. But I think also we should not overlook the private visits to the Blessed Sacrament that have been so much a part of our life. These are the ways in which we sustain our faith in the Eucharist. We lament the lowering rate of belief in the Real Presence; I believe that we need to make these pedagogical means of reinforcing our belief in the Holy Eucharist.
Secondly, I hope that we will not be the captives of architects, who may or may not share our Catholic faith, and who may or may not accept the fullness of our Eucharistic teaching. The architect should not be the last word. Certainly the parishioners, the pastor and the bishop should have that final decision. I would hope that this question on the position of the tabernacle would be very thoroughly researched, and that the liberty — I stress, the liberty — that is given to us by the Code we should not be trying to diminish.
Bishop David Zubik (Aux. Pittsburgh): Bishop Fiorenza, thank you very much. I think that we all need to be very grateful to you, Archbishop Hanus, for this document. All of us have policies and procedures for the construction and renovation of churches, and this will be a wonderful companion piece because of its theological, pastoral and practical considerations.
I want to thank you for also placing on pages 97 and 98 the section on the disposition of works of art no longer needed for sacred use. But I do have some concerns about the information that’s contained in lines 2100 through 2103. It speaks about the fact that oftentimes pastors will indiscriminately have objects that were sacred end up in flea markets or art dealers. And in line 2103, the sentence states: "Other options are available." I’m not a canonist, but I think that there are certainly canonical considerations that any sacred objects should not be given over to art dealers or to flea markets. And I think that misconception should be corrected in the document. Thank you.
Bishop Nicholas DeMarzio (Aux. Newark): I’d like to thank Archbishop Hanus and my fellow suffragan Bishop Rodimer for the hard work that they put into this document. It’s a very difficult task. But I’d like to say "What’s in a name?" I think there’s a lot in a name. Domus Dei is a good name, but perhaps Porta Coeli, Gate of Heaven, might be a better name to underline the sacred place and the space which our churches are. If we can make a comparison to the Temple of Jerusalem, which was the place of the Ark of the Covenant and the place of sacrifice, in distinction from the synagogues of the Jewish people, which were meeting places for the celebration of the Word, I think we could understand that in our houses of worship we have both. I think we need to keep that understanding of the sacred space, especially with the place of reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. Where it is, perhaps, is not as important as the place it takes in the whole life of the Church. We are invited to the church, which is indeed God’s house, an invitation to the Beatific Vision of heaven some day. Our churches should be places of uplifting spirit so that we might indeed have that peek into heaven which they should be. The centrality of the Eucharist indeed assures us that. Thank you.
Bishop Carl Mengeling (Lansing): Thank you for this great opportunity. I think this is a discussion, now and whatever’s developing in the future, that will be very helpful for all of us on the front line.
I’m concerned about the section on the ambo; it sort of is in Limbo in a way. It is in all of my discussions with liturgists and everything else; we don’t seem to know what to do with the ambo. Its location is hardly mentioned here. (It’s page 35.)
You know, with the tremendous developments with the location of the baptismal font, liturgists now are having different ideas about the ambo, and the relationship of the axis between the font, the ambo, the altar with new churches. I really think it would be helpful if this very brief section on the ambo could be expanded to really deal with the interplay. The document mentions it in the General Instruction below. But it never tells exactly the location of the ambo, and that seems to be up for grabs in the minds of a lot of liturgists. I would benefit personally by some help regarding the location of the ambo. And I think, too, in many of our churches the ambo is miserable in a way. It’s off to the side; it doesn’t in any way do what the document talks about: the design which reflects "the harmonious and close relationship between the ambo and the altar." I think we need to emphasize that more. I would appreciate help with that section. Thank you.
Bishop Donald Trautman (Erie): Bishop Rodimer and his committee have certainly faced a Herculean task. And I thank Bishop Rodimer and his committee for their efforts. Permit, please, an observation regarding terminology. The document stresses the terms nave, narthex and apse; these are terms used in the Romanesque style of architecture; these terms are not used in any of the liturgical rites or legislation. So I think that has to be looked at.
Secondly, I think there’s some confusion in the text regarding the suggestions and Church directives. At times suggestions are made directives, even when the General Instruction of the Roman Missal does not follow that course. For example, regarding the placement of the presider’s chair on page 36. This document requires that the presider’s chair "be permanently set in the sanctuary." This is not required in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal #271. And there could be other examples cited in that regard. I think there is some confusion at times between mixing what is a suggestion with what is a directive.
And I would join with, I think Bishop Ramirez, earlier, who said : "When everything is emphasized, nothing is emphasized."
Bishop John R. Gaydos (Jefferson City): As wonderful as all this is, I think I found a few lacunae. Maybe not, you can’t be encyclopedic. One thing I was wondering about was — I did not notice anything about bells. You’re finding more and more churches these days aren’t even thinking about them, maybe because of economic exigencies. For instance, even the great Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis only got bells about ten years ago. It might be something to think about.
Another thing, pastorally in the kind of situation we’re in, maybe something about child care provisions. For instance, examining the plusses and minuses of cry rooms. You know, or maybe challenging architects to have some way where people don’t feel like they’re in some squalid place when they’re assigned to these cry rooms. They’re pretty awful things. I was just thinking those might be a couple of practical considerations.
Bishop Sean O’Malley (Fall River): All of us have heard the comments of our people very frequently: "This place does not look like a church." One of the comments that’s made that there’s a certain suburbanization of the heavenly Jerusalem that’s taken place.