Friday, January 04, 2008

Churches and Bath-houses

Fr Finegan has the unfortunate news of the fate of the Jesuit Church in the Irish city of Limerick:
The article outlines Architect John Kennedy's plans for the Church. They will involve "very little alteration to the church" and "virtually all of the fabric of the existing structure" will be retained, including all five altars. The nave of the Church will become a swimming pool surrounded by a glass wall so that people can still see the High Altar. also at ground level will be a restaurant and juice bar. The gym itself will be on a new floor, five metres above ground level.
I'm curious about the canonical aspects of this case.
Can. 1212 Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they have been destroyed in large part, or have been turned over permanently to profane use by decree of the competent ordinary or in fact.
Can. 1220 §1. All those responsible are to take care that in churches such cleanliness and beauty are preserved as befit a house of God and that whatever is inappropriate to the holiness of the place is excluded.
Can. 1222 §1. If a church cannot be used in any way for divine worship and there is no possibility of repairing it, the diocesan bishop can relegate it to profane but not sordid use.
§2. Where other grave causes suggest that a church no longer be used for divine worship, the diocesan bishop, after having heard the presbyteral council, can relegate it to profane but not sordid use, with the consent of those who legitimately claim rights for themselves in the church and provided that the good of souls suffers no detriment thereby.
Question: Does the conversion of a church in this manner require the consent of the diocesan bishop?
Question: Are the Jesuits exempt from the oversight/approval of the Diocesan Bishop in the alienation of Church property?

Ironically, one of Rome's finest churches is the Basilica of S.Maria degli Angeli. It is constructed from the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian:
The thermae of Diocletian dominated the Quirinal Hill with their ruined mass and had successfully resisted Christianization. Michelangelo Buonarroti worked from 1563 to 1566 to adapt a section of the remaining structure of the baths to enclose a church. Some later construction directed by Luigi Vanvitelli in 1749 only superficially distracts from the grand and harmonious Michelangelesque volumes. At Santa Maria degli Angeli Michelangelo archieved an unexampled sequence of shaped architectural spaces. with few precedents or followers. There is no true facade (illustration): the simple entrance is set within one of the coved apses of a main space of the thermae. The plan is developed from a Greek cross, with a transept so dominant, with its cubical chapels at each end, that the effect is of a transverse nave.
That is how it's supposed to be done.

3 comments:

Quantitative Metathesis said...

Would one need to bow to the high altar before diving in?

Should someone remind the Jesuits in question that normally one oughtn't draw precedent from the church-conversion practices of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia?

Seraphic Single said...

Oh my.

John F. said...

Yes the Jesuits are supposed to seek ecclesiastical approval before the alienation of church property. Look at how they handled the sale of St. Louis University Hospital- the local ordinary and the Vatican said NO and then they proceeded to complete the alienation.