Should the Tabernacle be visible to the congregation?

Why have Catholic churches that have undergone renovations within the last several years moved the Tabernacle to the side of the alter?

Two churches that I have been back to recently have completely removed the Tabernacle from the center of the alter and placed it to the right side “out of the way”. The most recent has been more of a concern. The Tabernacle is no longer visible from most of the seating area. The enclosure also has a sizable backlit depiction of the sun and the moon above the door of the Tabernacle. It seems to me this is paganistic symbolism that has no place in a Catholic church.

Thanks for your help.

When the tabernacle is in the body of the church, it must be …

Readily Visible

General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

  1. 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, readily visible, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer.

Prominent and conspicuous

Code of Canon Law:

Canon 938

º1. The Most Holy Eucharist is to be reserved regularly in only one tabernacle of a church or oratory.
º2. The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved should be placed in a part of the church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer.

In a most worthy place with the greatest honor

*Catechism of the Catholic Church * states:

1183 The tabernacle is to be situated “in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor.” The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

In a spot in the church which is very prominent, truly noble…….

Inaestimabile donum

  1. The tabernacle in which the Eucharist is kept can be located on an altar, or away from it, in a spot in the church which is very prominent, truly noble, and duly decorated, or in a chapel suitable for private prayer and for adoration by the faithful.(34)

In *Redemptor hominis * Pope John Paul II calls on bishops and priests to “be vigilant in seeing that this Sacrament of love… be at the centre of the life of the People of God…”

This Sacrament of love resides in the tabernacle! Why hide the true Light of this world (John 8:12)? After all, “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” (Luke 8:16)

On the centrality of the tabernacle in the sanctuary, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick says the following:

“I have always had this concern about the placement of the tabernacle … It seems to me that ninety percent of our people come into church only on Sunday mornings. And if the Blessed Sacrament is nowhere to be seen in the body of the church, they will be missing something very, very important in their spirituality and in the theology…In the Archdiocese of Newark, no new church is allowed to be completed without the Blessed Sacrament being visible to the vast majority of the congregation …”.

Full text is here.

Recommended reading:

Locating a Tabernacle

Where Should We Put the Tabernacle?

The Tabernacle, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

Answer continued below…

Concerning the depiction of the sun and the moon above the door of the Tabernacle, one would hope it has some biblical significance (e.g. Matthew 13:43, Psalm 72:5). Perhaps someone at the church would be able to answer your question.

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