Thursday, December 1, 2011

Renovation of the Cathedral of Reggio Emilia - Full article

Cathedral Restoration; the Curia counterattacks: stop the controversy.

Monsignore Landini versus the Architect Maccarini: “His (book) is an attack on the bishop. Wait for the inauguration on November 20th

(Editor's notes in red)

After thunder comes rain. In the wake of the store of criticism of the renovation of the cathedral, the curia’s reply, entrusted to spokesman Don Emilio Landini, attacks the presentation of architect Stefano Maccarini’s book: Murder of the Cathedral, Assumptions, dramas, and wounds of a disfigured church: The Case of Reggio Emilia, to be presented tomorrow [November 20th], at the Captain’s Hall – Hotel Posta.

Don Landini: “Maccarini swept away by the controversy”

Don Landini writes: Beyond the publication, I personally admit that, initially, the architect made a contribution, a request to rethink some ideas presented as definitive. Then he was overwhelmed by the controversy, and carried out a true campaign of denigration, in the newspapers and national magazines, and on his website, with contributions by authors more or less brought about by he himself. We have, among the pieces contained in the appendix, an essay in which (his) omissions were simply defamatory.

It is sufficient, that when he appeared on Libero, on the 5th of last August, he spoke of the “destruction of the cathedral of Reggio Emilia that is traumatizing all the faithful these days”. And a bit later: “Therefor the Cathedral will soon be, upon the completion of the works, a theater of ambiguous and pathological rites, rotten with pride”. Sometimes, there are even accusations of potential Protestantism (Translator’s note: The Italian word is cattoprotestantesimo, which has no English equivalent.), in questions which certainly do not touch upon Catholic Orthodoxy. It is true that these articles do not bear Maccarini’s signature; however, he inspired them, placed them on his site, and, despite repeated requests, has not removed them.

The Controversy

Concerning the liturgical adjustment of the cathedral, a furious controversy has erupted, directed against an alleged excess of “modernism”. Italia Nostra president Enrico Lusetti, and ex-superintendent Elio Garzillo have sided with the architect Maccarini against the project Particularly surprising is the Japanese Crucifix of Nagasawa, in which Jesus is missing, which was then not commissioned. (Translator's note: More on this later)

An Attack on the Bishop

The publication inevitably appears as an attack on the Bishop, whose departure from the diocese is imminent, while only a blind rage [or righteous anger?] can define the great work of restoration as a “Murder”, although it was, in effect, a joke. Mon. Capriolo is recognized as particularly competent in theological and liturgical matters. He must also be recognized, for his courage to have made important changes to the initial project, which made the harsh criticism baseless. It would be honorable for the author of the volume to make a brave, calming gesture, to make “reparation”, for having spread a deformed image of the Church of Reggio Emilia , and for certain expressions which were, to say the least, disrespectful, contained in articles in newspapers and national magazines, which are, in part, attached in the appendix. Within their discretionary field, each has a right to support their position, then can one alone (position) be realized. And perhaps the choice is for the Bishop. It’s legitimate to express personal opinions, but not to try to obscure the beauty and splendor found in the cathedral, of which the people of Reggio Emilia can be proud. Don Landini continues: “It is surprising that Maccarini, despite repeated requests to at least delay publication of the book, has not waited to see, on Sunday November 20th, the liturgical adaptions actually made, especially to the more problematic liturgical poles still hidden by scaffolding. In the book are interwoven various topics and remarks: Architectural, Historical, Theological, Liturgical, and also retellings of stories, As well as citations from general works which are outside the scope of the renovation. At times, there is preoccupation about the conservation of objects which in reality have only a sentimental value; traditional, rather than profoundly spiritual.[Part of the problem here is that Liberal Churchmen have been literally destroying the patrimony of Catholicism in order to create spaces that fit the banality of their drab and minimalistic Liturgies, and many of the proposals were indeed shocking. ]

The Architectural choices

Don Landini concluded his speech by touching upon the details of the architectural choices.[I know the author of this article doesn't touch on those. Perhaps it would be good to point this out in editor/translator's note? it seems he goes into detail on these below.] Some points which were discussed merit particular attention, as they touch upon the sensibilities of the people. [You mean they touch on sensibilities those in charge want to project? We understood that many people were dismayed by these changes.]We give the nod.

The Removal of the Historical Altar

Firstly, the removal of the “historical” altar, which, as Maccarini acknowledges, “was perhaps not a work of art”, but was removed “To make a place for a circular stone structure, which, being of stone, cannot be experimental”. The interesting history of the old altar has been reconstructed; it begins in 1621 with modifications in 1806, and most recently in 1968. So, what came down to us before the restoration is really the result of various modifications and mutilations. [Various modifications which are informed by the finest artists in Europe and the spirituality of the Catholic Church as it had always been, without rupture, until today, apparently.]Of the new marble altar, however, the author gives a brief description, without having yet seen it. [It's still in a box. it's free-standing, that's for sure.]

The Nagasawa Cross was not commissioned

The problem of the Cross was certainly the one which brought the most clamor, writes Maccarini. And he explains: “above the new altar will be placed perpendicularly, a great ‘glorious cross’, the work of the Japanese artist Hidetoshi Nagasawa”.

In reality, the architect does not know yet, but we will actually not be hanging any cross by this artist; the one commissioned at the time, although appreciated from an artistic standpoint,[It looks like a couple of pieces of wood thrown together in strange shapes, like a weather vane...rather than a cross.] was deemed to be not immediately understandable in its symbolism. (Translator's note: So, the cross really was commissioned, and then canceled, likely due to the outcry from Catholics)

The Bishop’s Cathedra out of the sanctuary

Criticism is also directed against the removal of the cathedra from the presbytery. It is a respectable opinion, which could be reconsidered in the future, while noting that the new seat was not improvised, and that the expansion of the presbytery, if its dimensions are small, was provided for in the Nota Pastorale della Cei of 1966, “on the modification of churches”.[Putting the presider at the center, like in a Masonic Lodge where the "Worshipful Master" sits.]

The removal of the pews

The removal of the pews, debated in various diocese and parishes, has touched upon the sensibilities of many people. To clear up the question, they should remember they made their appearance in churches only lately. Besides, everyone knows, for instance, that in St. Peter’s and St. Mary Major in Rome, there are not pews in the central nave. In the Cathedral of Reggio, the 18th century pews are still present in the two transepts, which the elderly can use, albeit with some difficulty, owing to the 8 steps. Don’t forget that in the Basilica of St. Prosper in Reggio, the pews do not provide the possibility of kneeling. So really, the question of the pews versus the new chairs falls in the realm of the debatable.

The Crypt

Concerning the 13th century crypt, Maccarini writes that, upon descending, one is “shocked” at the glass and steel parapets, the recessed lighting, and more. In his opinion, it would have lost its original sacrality, with this museological illumination. He seems to almost ignore the fact that the crypt, at first disregarded by all, has become a place of daily Eucharistic Adoration.

(Translation by: The Seneschal

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