Chapter V. Designing Churches and Altars to Facilitate Active Participation of the Faithful
I. DESIGN OF CHURCHES
90. In building new churches or restoring and adapting old ones every care is to be taken that they are suited to celebrating liturgical services authentically and that they ensure active participation by the faithful (see SC art. 124).
II. MAIN ALTAR
91. The main altar should preferably be freestanding, to permit walking around it and celebration facing the people. Its location in the place of worship should be truly central so that the attention of the whole congregation naturally focuses there.
Choice of materials for the construction and adornment of the altar is to respect the prescriptions of law.
The sanctuary area is to be spacious enough to accommodate the sacred rites.
III. CHAIR FOR CELEBRANT AND MINISTERS
92. In relation to the plan of the church, the chair for the celebrant and ministers should occupy a place that is clearly visible to all the faithful and that makes it plain that the celebrant presides over the whole community.
Should the chair stand behind the altar, any semblance of a throne, the prerogative of a bishop, is to be avoided.
IV. MINOR ALTARS
93. There are to be fewer minor altars and, where the design of the building permits, the best place for them is in chapels somewhat set apart from the body of the church.
V. ALTAR APPOINTMENTS
94. At the discretion of the Ordinary, the cross and candlesticks required on the altar for the various liturgical rites may also be placed next to it.
VI. RESERVATION OF THE EUCHARIST
95. The eucharist is to be reserved in a solid and secure tabernacle, placed in the middle of the main altar or on a minor, but truly worthy altar, or, in accord with lawful custom and in particular cases approved by the local Ordinary, also in another, special, and properly adorned part of the church.
It is lawful to celebrate Mass facing the people even on an altar where there is a small but becoming tabernacle.
VII. LECTERN (AMBO)
96. There should be a lectern or lecterns for the proclamation of the readings, so arranged that the faithful may readily see and hear the minister.
VIII. PLACE FOR CHOIR AND ORGAN
97. The choir and organ shall occupy a place clearly showing that the singers and the organist form part of the united community of the faithful and allowing them best to fulfill their part in the liturgy.
IX. PLACE FOR THE FAITHFUL
98. Special care should be taken that the place for the faithful will assure their proper participation in the sacred rites with both eyes and mind. Normally there should be benches or chairs for their use but, in keeping with the Constitution art. 32, the custom of reserving places for special persons is to be suppressed.
Care is also to be taken to enable the faithful not only to see the celebrant and other ministers but also to hear them easily, even by use of modern sound equipment.
99. In the construction and decoration of the baptistery great pains are to be taken to ensure that it clearly expresses the dignity of the sacrament of baptism and that it is a place well suited to communal celebrations (see SC art. 27).
This Instruction was prepared by the Consilium by mandate of Pope Paul VI, and presented to the Pope by Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro, President of the Consilium. After having carefully considered the Instruction, in consultation with the Consilium and the Congregation of Rites, Pope Paul in an audience granted to Cardinal Arcadio Maria Larraona, Prefect of the Congregation of Rites, gave it specific approval as a whole and in its parts, confirmed it by his authority, and ordered it to be published and faithfully observed by all concerned, beginning on the first Sunday of Lent, 7 March 1965.