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Images of Cofton Park sanctuary put online

By on Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Images of Cofton Park sanctuary put online

Organisers of the papal visit have put online three computer-generated images of the sanctuary for the beatification Mass at Cofton Park.

The images show a domed stage with a sweeping stained glass backdrop and a large crucifix hanging from the ceiling. The altars, ambo and papal chair, all made in American white ash, are just about visible.

A poll by the American blogger Fr John Zuhlsdorf suggests that the design has not been well received.

At the time of writing, 962 readers had given it a thumbs down, “actually stabbing the thumb downward repeatedly and with jeers and whistles of derision”. Only 34 people gave the design an enthusiastic thumbs up, with applause and a cheer.

Damian Thompson, meanwhile, said the organisers appeared to have gone for the “Scientology look”.

  • http://twitter.com/RCYouthWorker Jack Regan

    I can see why the sanctuary isn't to everyone's taste, though personally I quite like it and 'm sure many others will too.

    While I respect the views of those on Fr. Zuhlsdorf's site, might I suggest that this site perhaps doesn't represent the best cross-section of the Catholic community, being that it is very, very traditionalist.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XVQYFX7HNUREFSQCSYNJYCL2PE Luiz Carlos

    How could anyone be a good catholic without being traditionalist?

  • Andyclarag

    An unappealing setting for the Holy Father to offer the Mass. Perhaps we in Britain need to let the so-called 'experts' know that until we experience a return to a liturgical hermeneutic of continuity with sacred tradition we are not happy to have the Faith semiotically orphaned

  • TantumErgo

    My “thumbs down derision” can be summed up to one, solitary, inarticulate monosyllable: Bleahhh!

  • Andy Milam

    My name is Andy Milam and I posted this over at Fr. Z's blog:

    How hard is it to actually have a Papal Mass in a church? Why is it that since Pope Paul VI, most Masses have to be outdoors? With cctv and the like, there is no reason why we can’t move the Holy Father back to where he belongs…..in a church at a permanent and fixed altar.

    Also, whomever is in charge of these designs, regardless of the locale, seems to be a holdover from the 1970s. They are simply garish and dated in design…..certainly not dignified for the Vicar of Christ, especially when there are cathedrals and/or churches that will hold several thousand people.

    My addendum: Why in the world can we not simply have what we are entitled to as Catholics? Why can't we have a properly celebrated Papal Mass with the dignity that it is due? In a space that is truly apt for the liturgical action. When we have these Masses around the world that celebrate everthing from Humanism to architecture, we quickly lose sight of the real reason we're there. We are there to worship Our Lord Jesus Christ and bring our spiritual gifts to the altar, so the Holy Father can offer them on our behalf as mediator, in the great Divine Liturgy that is the Mass. When we settle for anything less, we are compromising our participatio actuosa, which is to worship. The designers of this monstrosity have lost sight of that. There are churches in London (and elsewhere for that matter) which can handle the crowds. If not, issue (not sell) tickets and provide CCTV outside of the church for ease of viewing, or better yet, have people simply join in worshipping from where ever they are. The side question is, how did we have Papal Masses before 1969? These are serious questions and serious times for our formation as Catholics and how we approach the liturgical action. We cannot be more serious than we are right now. And it starts with the faithful crying to heaven for the ability to worship properly by having the clergy and TPTB give us the proper liturgical action in the proper liturgical space. It is time for both the faithful and the clergy to put up…because we've spent way too much time shutting up.

  • Andy Milam


    As Catholics, we are called to be traditionalists. We have four pillars to our Church, and those four pillars (that the Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic) are supported by two foundations, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. If we lose on one of the foundations, the pillars fall. If the pillars fall the Church fails. That cannot happen, so by it's very nature the Church is traditionalist.

  • Gail F

    I'm here from Fr. Z's blog. I would consider myself fairly traditional but not a “traditionalist.” I just think this is ugly. England is such a beautiful country, why not make something attractive? You're designing something for the pope, not for a a trade show! And why doesn't it have anything to do with Cardinal Newman? Something important is supposed to be happening here, but this looks like the new model Toyota is about to be introduced. Of course you have to design for an outdoor event, but there are lots of better ways to do it. I've written an entire book about designing for outdoor events, and this would not have made the cut. It's boring, and it does not communicate what is going to happen.

  • Mollybenton5

    Oh dear.

  • http://twitter.com/RCYouthWorker Jack Regan

    Charismatics claim that everyone is called to be 'charismatic' because the Holy Spirit works charisms in all of us and therefore since we all want to be open to those charisms, we are all 'charismatic.'

    This is true on the surface, but then there is a sharp divide between the general notion of being open to the Holy Spirit and being part of the charismatic movement as it is commonly understood.

    I suspect that much the same differentiation in the usage of a term applies to the term 'traditionalist!'

  • TJBC

    Considering that HH Pope Benedict loves beauty as is his inclination when he offers Mass — Vestments, chant, the use of accoutments from past papacies, to name only a few examples, I find this design utterly disgusting and ugly. Perhaps Cardinal Newman wouldn't care but this design is simply not in keeping with the popes intention to reform the reform. This design is a slap in the face of the pope and lacks respect.

  • guest

    Why do they always have to add some space-age-looking twist? Why not use nice 90 degree angles and try to approximate a traditional church sanctuary? This thing looks like it is designed to be aerodynamic.

  • guest

    Why do they always have to add some space-age-looking twist? Why not use nice 90 degree angles and try to approximate a traditional church sanctuary? This thing looks like it is designed to be aerodynamic.

  • pattif

    One is forced to conclude that whoever designed and approved this either has not read any of the Holy Father’s writings on the important connection between beauty and worship (notably The Spirit of the Liturgy), or they have read them and they’re not interested. Either way, not very welcoming.

    I’d love to know how much this thing cost.

  • Andy Milam

    Hi Jack,

    It really isn't the same, because you are applying a universal principal to a specific. When I (and all) speak of being a traditionalist, it is as a universal. The Church is Traditional by her very nature and while there are labels that are put forth, the reality is this, Tradition is something that all Catholics are called to participate in.

    To the contrary though, when you apply the term charismatic, you're speaking of a particular being applied as a universal. That isn't the case. We are not all called to be “charismatics.” Sure, there may be some who feel that way, but the Church doesn't define charism as the same as Tradition. A charism is a specific action, Tradition is foundational to all Catholics and something that we ARE called to participate in and safeguard; even if TPTB don't like the terminology.

  • Jules

    This new age space is just plain ugly, cold, and sterile. Nothing in it gives tehe impression of the sacred. It is as far from being Catholic and religious as can be. My only question is WHY? Who designed it and who accepted the design? The Pope should refuse to say Mass in such a place. He really needs to start putting his foor down!

  • http://twitter.com/RCYouthWorker Jack Regan

    The point I'm trying to make is that a group takes a universal concept and then uses a specific application of a term related to it to tell the entire Church that they should all be just like them.

    Traditionalists claim that because tradition is so important we should all be 'traditionalist.' Charismatics claim that because the Holy Spirit is working in all of us, we should all be open to the charisms it brings, and therefore be 'charismatic.' Sounds simple enough. Only problem is that the term 'traditionalist' and 'charismatic' as applied by those groups are not what everybody else in the church would see them as being, and understand them.

    So, no.

  • Donna

    Actually, the to-be-Blessed basically designed a church, with the help of a fellow convert and friend who was an architect :


    This shows that the to-be-Blessed's sensibility was a lot closer to the Holy Father's than that of whoever designed this …thing.

  • Jayesmclean

    I was there yesterday and I think the papal altar was lovely so beautiful and appealing to the eye. You most definately do not have to bve a traditionalist to be a Catholic. Wake up !!!!