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Thursday, July 16, 2009
Bishop John M. D’Arcy Promulgates Norms for Tabernacle Placement
Last year I attended a retreat weekend, on the grounds of a very prestigious Catholic High School. Sunday morning I entered the school's modern Church to attend Holy Mass. As I walked down the isle my eyes looked for the tabernacle. I looked behind the altar, to the left side of the altar, to the right side. No tabernacle to be found. Finally I asked a parishioner, "Where is the tabernacle"? Well, I found Jesus in a small room off a side isle. A cold dark room, with a lit candle. Now, why would an architect designing a "Catholic Church" hide the tabernacle? It's hard for me to understand. Obviously this is not only a problem in my state - it is also a problem in Indiana. Bishop John D'Arcy, of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese in Indiana, has issued a directive that the tabernacle should be centrally placed in all churches of that diocese. Here is the directive off the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend website.
To Priests, Deacons, Religious, and to All the Faithful,
The presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is at the center of our faith and of the devotional life of our Catholic people.
In recent years, the place of the tabernacle in our churches has become a source of controversy. This should not be. The Eucharist, whether we are referring to its celebration or to the place of reservation, should always be a means of unity and communion, and never of division.
The place of the tabernacle in our church should reflect our faith in the real presence of Christ, and should always be guided by church documents.
My experience is that our people, with their instinct of faith, have always desired that the tabernacle be central and visible. They find it confusing when the tabernacle in their churches is not visible, and if possible, central.
Because of my responsibility to foster the devotional life of our people, and to keep it sound, I have asked our Office of Worship to prepare norms for the placement and design of the tabernacle in this diocese. These norms were brought before the Presbyteral Council, the Liturgical Commission and the Environment and Arts Committee. Suitable refinements and improvements were prepared.
These norms are promulgated to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend on June 14, 2009, the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of the Lord. They will be effective on Aug. 4, 2009, the feast of St. John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of priests, in whose honor the present Year for Priests has been dedicated by the Holy Father Benedict XVI.
I urge all priests to follow these norms carefully and completely, and most importantly — to foster devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend John M. D’Arcy
* above image of Catholic Altar by Doug Lawrence