Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Report: New Vatican commission to crack down on church architecture

It's hard to believe this is a Catholic church building.  It is Église Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay, in Nevers.  It was designed in the 60's and 70's (no surprise).  Source

Vatican journalist, Andrea Tornielli, is reporting that the Holy See is about to form a commission under the Congregation for Design Worship to assist dioceses with their architectural plans.  It seems that the Holy Father has seen enough cubes, space eggs, and "garage churches", among  other oddities.  Tornielli writes (emphasis mine in bold; comments in red):

A team has been set up, to put a stop to garage style churches, boldly shaped structures that risk denaturing modern places for Catholic worship. Its task is also to promote singing that really helps the celebration of mass. The “Liturgical art and sacred music commission” will be established by the Congregation for Divine Worship over the coming weeks [It can't come fast enough]. This will not be just any office, but a true and proper team, whose task will be to collaborate with the commissions in charge of evaluating construction projects for churches of various dioceses. The team will also be responsible for the further study of music and singing that accompany the celebration of mass. [Deo gratias!]

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Benedict XVI, consider this work as “very urgent”. The reality is staring everyone in the eyes: in recent decades, churches have been substituted by buildings that resemble multi purpose halls [and space eggs, space ships or just "worship spaces" - a word I refuse to use in reference to a Catholic Church where the Sacrifice of the Mass takes place]. Too often, architects, even the more famous ones, do not use the Catholic liturgy as a starting point and thus end up producing avant-garde constructions that look like anything but a church. These buildings composed of cement cubes, glass boxes, crazy shapes and confused spaces, remind people of anything but the mystery and sacredness of a church. [Bingo!] Tabernacles are semi hidden, leading faithful on a real treasure hunt and sacred images are almost inexistent. [In the geographical parish I grew up in, there were green blobs that were suppose to represent Mary and Joseph, and the tabernacle looked like something worthy of the Borg, complete with a 1970's pukey green door.  Thankfully, the new pastor, some years ago, replaced them with some real treasures he obtained from closing parishes and Our Lord is housed in a beautiful gold tabernacle]. The new commission’s regulations will be written up over the next few days and will give precise instructions to dioceses. It will only be responsible for liturgical art, not for sacred art in general; and this also goes for liturgical music and singing too [I hope guidelines are used for mega-Masses for youth and other large venues.  Pope Benedict XVI and his MC, Msgr. Guido Marini, have restored some dignity, but you can see that not everyone is getting the message]. The judicial powers of the Congregation for Divine Worship will have the power to act.
Well, that last sentence basically says it won't be a commission full of wall-flowers.

Keep in mind, this is just a report.  We've had reports like these only to have, "the Vatican" refute them days later.  I'll believe it when I see the press release from the Holy See.
But, for the pure pleasureful thought.... Continue reading Tornielli's report...

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