Bishops: tabernacle in centre (United States).
As The Wanderer notes: "One after another, nearly three dozen bishops, including three cardinals, acknowledged how the liturgical changes and mandates of the postconciliar period have weakened, damaged or destroyed the faith of the Catholic people.
"And by far the biggest mistake, it was finally acknowledged, was the recommendation' that the tabernacle should be removed from a central altar" (Dec. 2, 1999).
The barrage of criticism was caused when a new document, Domus Dei, continued to push the same approach found in the earlier, 1978, document Environment and Art in Catholic Worship. How do we know? Because unlike in Canada, where the annual bishops' sessions are closed to the press, in Washington the deliberations are held in public.
Consequently, in the United States there is far greater openness and wider discussion about new documents which are launched by one or other Church committee. Some of the documents are discussed for years before being amended and submitted for a final vote. One document on feminism was discussed for eight years before being dropped altogether.
In the case of Domus Dei, the Conference made it absolutely clear that its recommendations, especially on removing the tabernacle, are slated for flat out rejection.
Cardinal Law of Boston pointed out that the Vatican will be publishing liturgical guidelines soon, and that it is unwise to make any national ones before these guidelines come out. (Perhaps the Canadian bishops will see wisdom in this before going ahead with their own newly prepared Our Place of Worship.)
Archbishop Sheehan of Santa Fe said: "We have all experienced a lessening of devotion to the Eucharist, a loss of the sense of the Real Presence; the sense of the sacred has suffered. I can't help believing that placing the Eucharist in a separate chapel, often hidden and small, is part of the reason we have a crisis in belief in the Real Presence....Out of sight, out of mind, is what has happened."
Archbishop Curtiss of Omaha asked why the new book adopts the "recent development" that Christ is present in the assembly just as much as he is in the Blessed Sacrament, adding: "It's misleading to say all forms of Christ's presence are equal and all should have prominence of place. The prominent place is the altar and the tabernacle."
Cardinal Hickey of Washington, D.C., observed: "If tabernacles are reinstated it will help restore a sense of prayer to our churches....We should not overlook private visits. These are the ways we sustain our faith in the Eucharist."