Bishop Paprocki: I Direct the Eucharist be Placed in the Center of the Sanctuary


His Excellency Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki; Ars celebrandi et adorandi

On the Art of Celebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy

Mother of the Eucharist

The art of celebrating the liturgy properly and adoring the Lord in the Eucharist devoutly (ars celebrandi et adorandi) is the key to fostering the active participation of the People of God in divine worship. (Part 1 of series)

The Reservation and Adoration of the Holy Eucharist

18. While the Holy Eucharist is reserved in the tabernacle of every parish church in our diocese, the faithful in some places do not frequently come to pray before the tabernacle to be in the presence of the Lord. Several reasons for this certainly exist, but one among them is the reality that the tabernacle is not always easily found in many of our churches today. Over the past few decades, tabernacles all too often were moved from prominent places in the sanctuary to obscure and remote rooms that in some cases were previously supply closets.

19. The present legislation of the Church concerning the placement of the tabernacle states, “In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, conspicuous, worthily decorated, and suitable for prayer.”13

Regrettably, this is not always followed.

20. In some churches and chapels, the tabernacle is set on a “side” altar in such a way that the tabernacle, though noble, is neither prominent nor readily visible. The same is often the case with the location of some Eucharistic chapels, whether they be in the nave itself, behind the sanctuary, or in another room. They are not always prominent or readily visible.

21. The great majority of our parish churches and chapels were designed to house the tabernacle in the center of the sanctuary; removing the tabernacle from these sanctuaries has left a visible emptiness within the sacred space, almost as though the building itself longed for the return of the tabernacle. With the removal of the tabernacle from the center of the sanctuary, the architectural integrity of many churches and chapels has been severely compromised.14

22. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Eucharist in 2007, “The correct positioning of the tabernacle contributes to the recognition of Christ’s real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, the place where the Eucharistic species are reserved, marked by a sanctuary lamp, should be readily visible to everyone entering the church. … In any event, final judgment on these matters belongs to the Diocesan Bishop.”15

23. With this in mind, in order that more of the faithful will be able to spend time in adoration and prayer in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design. Tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary or are otherwise not in a visible, prominent and noble space are to be moved to the center of the sanctuary; tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary but are in a visible, prominent and noble space may remain.

24. Some may object to this directive and point, by means of example, to the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome to suggest that tabernacles should not be located in the sanctuary. Saint Peter’s, of course, is different from the average church or chapel in many respects. Chief among these differences is the number of tourists who visit the Basilica each day, with no intention of praying to the Lord therein. These tourists enter this remarkable edifice built to the honor of the Prince of the Apostles simply to look around, to see the architectural beauty and perhaps to see some aspect of Catholic worship, but not to pray. The Eucharist is reserved in a special chapel into which tour groups are not permitted so that the reverence and adoration due the Eucharist can be properly accorded him by pilgrims seeking to speak with him.

25. At the same time, it should be noted that the Eucharistic chapel in Saint Peter’s is itself larger than many of our parish churches. There is more than enough room to accommodate all those who wish to pray in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord in the chapel; it is not always so with every Eucharistic chapel in this Diocese.

26. This deep-seated desire to be in the presence of the Lord resounds in the heart of every person, even if they cannot at first name this desire for what it truly is. We should therefore do all that we can to help them encounter the Lord who waits for them to seek and find him. In this regard, I strongly encourage keeping our churches open to the public in so far as can be done with the safety of people and the building in mind. Pope Francis spoke about this in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, Evangelii Gaudium: “The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door” (no. 47).

27. Regularly scheduled times for exposition of the Most Holy Eucharist in a monstrance or pyx, as well as an annual solemn and lengthier exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, are highly commended as ways to stimulate the faithful to spiritual union with Christ which culminates in sacramental communion. The norms in the liturgical books for Eucharistic exposition and benediction are to be observed.16

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36 comments to Bishop Paprocki: I Direct the Eucharist be Placed in the Center of the Sanctuary

  • JoAnn Dempsey

    I agree, Jesus should always be very visible and in a place of prominence. When people enter a church they should not have to search to find the tabernacle.

  • May a quick response follow the Bishop’s appeal

  • God bless this dear Bishop Poprocki. May every Catholic church follow suit. How many enter church and bow to the altar and ignore the tabernacle. We should pray before the tabernacle before and after Mass to give an example to others.

  • […] Bishop Paprocki: I Direct the Eucharist be Placed in the Center of the Sanctuary LES FEMMES – THE TRUTH […]

  • Hoping in Saint Paul

    God bless Bishop Paprocki. Let us pray he is protected from the attacks that will surely come. Now that the proper place is being restored for our Lord in his diocese how about reverence?

    A few years ago the Bishops of this country decided that our Lord was only to be reverenced with a genuflection at the beginning and end of mass (entering and leaving the Sanctuary). With the tabernacle again front and center genuflections should be done every time one passes the tabernacle as was the prior practice. If the bishops think our Lord is only worthy of a bow maybe they don’t believe in the real presence? Let us continue to pray for our Bishops and Priests and that other Bishops will have the courage to put our Lord back front and center.

  • Maria

    Jesus is the KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS .God Bless you Bishop Paprocki.

  • John Earl

    Thank God for men/priests like Bishop Paprocki. If we are to save the Catholic Church in America we must get behind brave men like him. Why was the Eucharist remove in the first place? Perhaps that face to face meeting in the morning after a night out with the “boys” was too much to deal with.

  • Bobbie Noonan

    God Bless you Bishop Paprocki . You are truly a Shepard .

  • Janet Duncan

    Read True Life In God- July 16, 1991 – Satan has covered the entire earth with his smoke

  • ir lives too see this

    Like the USA and many other countries my home Australia is a mixture after living in at least 3 major cities in our Country where Jesus is hidden or pushed into some inaccessible place on the pretext that he is being protected. I have returned to a small coastal Town on the South Pacific Coast to find Jesus up front and central how many dear friends in those places would give their life to live or at least have the same thing in their Parish.
    God Bless all
    ken Lees

  • Let us pray for dear Bishop Paprocki. May our unhappy friends,who have longed for this day now join in thanksgiving to Jesus and Mary. Father Rutler during the 9/11 disaster made a decision to do this and located some materials that fit perfectly into the architectural design in his church in New York.

  • I attended a church that several years ago had a very large pumpkin on the back altar where the tabernacle used to be placed. I was so appalled but was new and did not voice my anger, but someone else must have been upset as much as I was – maybe the pastor – anyway, the pumpkin was removed and the tabernacle put back where it belonged.

  • God Bless Bishop Pabrocki! I, too, have been troubled by the placement of the Blessed Sacrament away from the most prominent place in the Sanctuary. This morning at Mass and Communion I prayed to the late Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., who was dedicated to the promotion of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, for the relocation of the Blessed Sacrament to the most prominent place in the Sanctuary in my own Church and all other Churches that have not already done so. I was delighted to see that Spirit Daily website ( noted Bishop Pabrocki’s statement regarding the Real Presence in the Eucharist in today’s (6/26/14) website. Fr. Hardon is being considered for Beatification and Canonization. It is encouraging and greatly appreciated to see Bishop Pabrocki following the example of Fr. Hardon

  • johnnie l. phillips

    Thank you.

  • Tanya

    So very happy to hear this! God bless.

  • Socorro

    Amen to bring back the tabernacle to where it belongs,the middle and also the communion railings so we give our respect to our Lord when receiving from the hands of the priest kneeling down .It bothers me terribly to see the priest and the Eucharistic ministers passing the Holy Host like candies.To bring back the faithful to kneel down and the consecrated hands of the priest to give on tongue.By the way are the hands of the Eucharistic ministers consecrated? I thought only the priest hands are consecrated. Hope Pope Francis will re-enforce the old custom to receive Holy Communion on tongue to avoid disrespecting our Lord and land in the hands of the evil.Our hands are not consecrated I thought only consecrated hands can hold the Host.

  • Joy

    Thank you Bishop Paprocki. It is a sad reality with us as a church today to have lost the sense of who we are worshiping when we come to church today. Having the most blessed sacrament tucked away in a corner does not help either. Outside of the placement of the most blessed sacrament in the middle of the church we need to re educated ourselves on who resides within that tabernacle and give Him due respect. Genuflect before we enter our pews and explain to the younger generation why we do that. On the feast of Corpus Cristi I happened to attend mass officiated by an outspoken priest in our parish. He explained the gospel regarding the institution of the eucharist well. Telling people why do you come to church looking like you just came from the wearing shorts and slippers when who you are coming to see is the Savior of mankind.

    God bless you and may the. Holy Spirit abide in you! Thank you for your brave words …

  • We all (including priests) know that it is proper to have Jesus
    in the center of the altar ,the same as He was in the center at the last supper.
    They use MANY excuses for removing Jesus & FINDING some other place for HIM.
    All will be questioned at the final judgement .Also, the question===why did you not
    tell your suffering parishioners to take their sufferings to JESUS-at daily Mass -at Exposition
    of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.Too late then. Richard-FOR THOSE WHO HURT-Apostolate

  • rob

    about time!!! That should piss off the masons

  • Psalm 139v13

    I would love to see the tabernacles put back in the center of the church! I would also like to see them remove the Eucharistic from the tabernacles when the church has a Christmas, Easter, and or Spring Concerts, and/or talks, seminars, and other non-Mass services. It is disrespectful to have people sitting in the church talking like they are at happy hour at the local bar (I don’t go to bars but you get the example). Most of the time I like to have the priest facing the people but in my parish sometimes the pastor is looking around during the elevation of the Host and it is very distracting. My pastor is in his 70 and is the worse celebrant of the Mass that I have ever seen. Extremely disrespectful of the Eucharistic that I sometimes wonder if he believes in the true presence. The examples I could give you would be endless and make you cry. We have six priests and all of the others are respectful with the exception of one priest where his liturgies are beautiful but he passes out Holy Communion as though he was pass out cards at a poker game. Please God, help all of us to go back to treating Jesus with all the respect that is due Him who is the Son of the Living God.

  • I am very pleased to have found this site. My sons and I have kept the Latin mass available at St Johns North Geelong for sixteen years. I am in my 82nd year and pray that it will continue. One thing I would like to see is the return of the Altar rails. For one thing, it shows the sacred area of the Sanctuary. The tabernacle where it should be and the Sanctuary light burning. Many Questions arise. If a lay person can handle the Eucharist , why don’t people go to confession to a lay person. Why does a priest have consecrated hands etc. God Bless. William

  • Larry T.

    As a parishioner of his own Cathedral I was delighted to read this first pastoral letter of his, and the directives within it fostering proper respect for the Eucharist. In addition, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, when this letter was sent, the Cathedral hosted a procession of the Blessed Sacrament in downtown Springfield for the first time in recent memory.

  • Tom Kearney

    For what reason, other than, say, that of safety, is the Blessed Sacrament permanently removed from Its rightful place on the altar of a Catholic church ?

  • Willow

    I am praying that Bishop Lennin in Cleveland follows suit. In one local church, the Tabernacle was moved out of sight but the priest put a chair in its place and he sits there like a king. I can’t go back there.

    • Betsy Russ

      I wonder if this is the same church, where last year, the priest said in his opening remarks, “today is the feast of Corpus Christi, not to be confused with Krispy Kreme donuts.” Some people laughed, but I got up and said it was not funny and walked out and have never gone back, although they do have a 24-hour chapel I will visit when I can.

  • Elizabeth

    Praise God! Thank you so much for this information. Our church is presently going through this controversy and what a struggle it is! We’re hoping and praying to be able to restore Jesus to His proper place. God bless you

  • Susan Goeller

    This does my heart good. It would break my heart when I found the tabernacle cast to the side, in another room or out by the bus stop. The king needs to be in the center of his dwelling and honored with all due respect. He shed his blood for us, and he still chooses to remain among us. Thank you
    Bishop Paprocki. May you be blessed for your courage.

  • Maria

    Yes, Bishop Paprocki, I totally agree with you. The tabernacle should always be placed in the center of the church, which is the most prominent place. I am sure that all Catholics that truly love the Eucharistic Jesus will be very happy to read your article and will stand behind you on your decision. God bless you! +

  • carmen

    I certainly hope it spread.I hope our church Go back to bringing the Eucharist up front.

  • tg

    A bishop after my heart. That’s one of my biggest complains about Catholic churches today – the tabernacle removed from the center. I belong to my current parish because the tabernacle is in the center and it still looks like a Catholic church. I can’t belong to a parish with the tabernacle on the side or any room. I can’t stand to see the priest sitted in the middle. It looks so man centered. Let’s bring back beautiful churches and beautiful art in the church. I love my saints and bells ringing every hour. (Susan Fox, thanks for making me smile. Your comments about the choir made me laugh. I need it today.)
    Thank you Bishop Poprocki. I wish you were my bishop.

    • tg, It definitely is a funny story now. But it wasn’t during the ’90s when we had to endure that choir every Sunday at Mass. However, God can bring good out of our worst mistakes. We learned to pray tuning out what is distracting in the Mass. We also lived through lukewarm sermon after lukewarm sermon — “As we are teeing off in the great golf course of life, what will our scorecard say?” Or rehashes of Guidepost. Or I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the heresy that the miracle of loaves and fishes was a miracle of sharing. (Everyone was hoarding fish and bread under their coat. That miracle is a type of the Eucharist. What does that make the Eucharist? Eww, I think that makes the people the body and blood.) But through 30 years of that, I learned to give myself sermons reflecting on the day’s Mass readings. Hence I became a Catholic blogger 🙂
      I won’t burden you with the parodies of “Catholic” hymns my family created after Mass on Sundays. But you would be rolling on the floor. God bless you. Susan Fox

  • Now, lets hope the Bishop orders facing the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Pope recently said in a homily that the priest sometimes is in front of the people leading, sometimes in the middle of them, sometimes behind them. Well, in the Liturgy of the Eucharist the FIRST is the desired and Apostolic way of worshipping God by the Sacrifice. How little do the clergy realize that facing the congregation automatically has the effect of the people LOOKING AT THE PRIEST LOOKING AT THE SACRAMENT, rather than LOOKING AT THE SACRAMENTAL CHRIST.

    • Amen! The priest facing the altar with his back to the congregation means he is our intermediary with God, and God is the object of worship. God bless you. Pete Salveinini.

  • Three cheers for the bishop! In some churches now days you have to ‘look’ for the reserved Blessed Sacrament!

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