Bishop Robert Morlino, Bishop for the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin have officially asked all Parish Priests in his Diocese to reposition the tabernacles to the center of the church behind the altar, instead of the majorly adopted system of having tabernacles in side chapels or sanctuaries of the church (since Vatican II’s dawn). The Bishop instructed that this be done by 2018 in the Parishes of his Diocese.
Bishop Morlino has long before now, right from the moment he was made Bishop of Madison in 2003, clamored on the issue of parishes centering the position of the tabernacle. Especially for Churches that are being constructed within the Diocese. But now he has made it an official instruction to be followed by all the parishes.
“Obviously the reason is because he wants to reiterate that this is the living God residing in the tabernacle,” Patrick Gorman, director of the Office of Worship for the Madison diocese, told CNA.
“After Vatican II, (the tabernacle) could be in a sanctuary or separate chapel… it still had to be prominently located, which is where we were finding some of the confusion. Tabernacles were being placed in chapels that weren’t even adjacent to the nave of the church let alone the sanctuary, so that when you walked into the Church proper, there would be none visible.
I think that was the first step of the confusion, to say that the Church has these two options, and this is what they’re supposed to be. The chapel kind of got divorced from the worship space of the church and kind of got put aside for a separate thing almost.
There are several major Cathedrals and Basilicas – like St. Peter’s in Rome, for example – that maintain separate chapels for tabernacles and Eucharistic adoration, but this is primarily because they are churches that see a lot of visitors and tourists”