WisSJ: Madison Diocese mandates all parish tabernacles move to center of sanctuary by 2018

This is another example of my point that Doug Erickson is the best secular religion reporter in the state.  Heck, he's a better reporter than most reporters for Catholic publications.  People complain when he covers some apostates at Holy Wisdom Monastery, but this is not a diocesan paper.  He should cover it all, good, bad, and ugly.  As another aside, did you see that Annysa Johnson no longer covers religion at the Journal Sentinel?

So here's the scoop.
Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino has directed priests to move the tabernacle to a prominent spot at the center of the sanctuary at all diocesan churches.

The directive was announced at an annual gathering of priests in September and could affect about half of the 134 worship sites in the diocese, although no exact count is available, said Patrick Gorman, director of the diocesan office of worship, which coordinates liturgical matters for the bishop and will be leading the effort. At these churches, the tabernacle may be off to one side of the sanctuary or in a separate side chapel altogether.

Because church law requires that a tabernacle be immovable and made of solid material, the directive will require some cost and effort at some parishes, Gorman said. The bishop is giving priests three years to accomplish the goal, until October 2018.
full article at Wisconsin State Journal

Like a blooming flower, the Diocese of Madison continues to exhibit that it is flourishing in every way.  This kind of solid thinking followed by concrete action will not only ensure their continued vocation boom, but that the faithful will be again permitted to attend their local parish with a orientation toward Catholic worship(as opposed to either a Protestant non-sacramental oriented worship, or an orientation according to an erroneous "Spirit of Vatican II").  It is both a relatively minor change since the movement of a small object in a church, and yet an enormous change because it's dealing with the essential character of a Catholic church.  Even moderates, and left of centers would not necessarily disagree with this move.

Frequently I am emailed about recommendations of places to live in this state.  I always recommend the Diocese of Madison first.  There are places like Platteville that have seen their share of painful controversies, yet overall the diocese is positioning itself as a Catholic destination.  That's not to say there are not other solid pockets in the state, but to have a bishop and diocesan bureaucracy(not necessarily a bad word) moving forward together in a positive direction after many years of confusion and turmoil, it's near unprecedented.  Even the good curiae seem to sit on their hands in hope of maintaining some artificial peace or a paranoia about being perceived as a "hard-liner like .insert Catholic boogeyman."  In this day and age, parents are willing to up and move to a good place to raise their children in relative peace.  They need good parishes, schools (or for lack of solid schools, a homeschooling community), colleges, hospitals, and most importantly, good pubs....  Well, we've got the beer down, but in many areas the rest needs work.  

Also FatherZ, Deacon's Bench


  1. Bishop Morlino should be made bishop of the whole state.

  2. Nice to see.

    Who would have thought that in a City of Fruits and Nuts such things could happen?

  3. This is an absurd; I don't like Tabernacle's in a forgotten corner or niche, but I have been to many churches that have incredible Blessed Sacrament Chapels that allow for greater access for things such as Eucharistic adoration. The most impressive chapel I've seen of late is at the Cathedral in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This reminds me of when, in the diocese of Madison, we were told not to use any music in the first person, which we respectfully ignored because it would have prohibited us from using classic chants such as 'Ego Sum Pan' and 'Tu es Petrus'. Instead of being thoughtful and directed toward problematic Tabernacle placement, it's a thoughtless blanket mandate from an autocratic Bishop.

  4. This seems short sighted. There are many beautiful blessed sacrament chapels that offer improved access for Eucharistic adoration.

  5. @TAq: the chant "Ego sum panis..." is a communion antiphon (proper) of a particular Mass. The Bishop did not "forbid" use of that. Further, I am unable to put my finger on the "first person" in the chant "Tu Es Petrus."

    So you were just making it up, as is the wont of most rebels.

  6. Yes, of course it is historically, liturgically, theologically, traditionally normal for large cathedrals and collegiate churches to have the Blessed Sacrament reserved on a side altar. Indeed, the Caeremoniale Episcoporum even prescribes that the bishop assisting at Pontifical Mass first stops to pray at the altar of the Blessed Sacrament before processing to the high altar to begin the Mass. This does not make Bp Morlino's directive problematic, rather, he is just being realistic. We currently have no cathedral, and we have no such collegiate churches in the diocese.

    The use of a side altar of the Blessed Sacrament also harks back to a time when Communion of the Faithful at Mass was uncommon, thus the priest celebrant rarely had need to access the tabernacle during the liturgy. Since almost every Mass now includes the Communion of the Faithful, it is pragmatically problematic for Father (or the deacon) to have to run off to a side altar or separate chapel.

    If we bring back large churches, staffed by a chapter of Canons, lined on either side with a dozen or more side altars where each Canon says his private daily Low Mass before joining together at the high altar for the Conventual Mass, I will be the first to support a dedicated side altar of the Blessed Sacrament. Until then, taking the tabernacle off the high altar is unpragmatic, inefficient, and unnecessary.

  7. @Dad29; you're right, the words of Tu Es Petrus aren't in the first person; I should have clarified that in stating that we were directed to not utilize music quoting Jesus in the first person; but those are Jesus's words.

    Rebel? Is that what you call a chant loving, latin promoting, antiphon wielding Catholic?

  8. Regarding the Blessed Sacrament Chapels referenced by TAq, I agree they are a convenience for individual adoration but I've also noticed the vast majority folks are either apathetic or completely oblivious to the presence of God in their midst. They cruise past without even a thought of Who is there or that they should stop for a moment to pray. Perhaps returning the tabernacle to the center might get folks asking the question 'WHY?'. a good start.


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