Repost: Old and new altar

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

I so very much appreciate your blog.  I don’t mind admitting that when it comes to liturgy I tend to think I know most things (or at least have a good sense of things) liturgical; but you make me think and re-think.  So thank you!

I have 2 questions regarding an upcoming renovation of the interior of our church.  The old altar (specifically the lower but large remnant of the old altar) has remained looming in place even though unused for the last 60 years.  It is to be removed as part of the renovation.

My first question is: is there any requisite Rite to “de-consecrate” it before it is disassembled?  (Naturally if there is still a relic imbedded, that would be salvaged.)

My second question is: when a new marble altar is assembled and installed during Phase 1 of the renovation, can we still use it unconsecrated until the end of Phase 2 (i.e. for about a year), when the archbishop would THEN come and dedicate the entire renovated church and consecrate the new altar simultaneously?

I appreciate any direction you might offer in the way of pointing out requirements or just thoughtful advice where there are no specific requirements.


A: Thanks for your comments on my blog.

Regarding question #1, I need to refer you to a canonist. I don’t know of any such liturgical rite, but the Code of Canon Law takes up the question in 1212 and 1238. I suggest you contact a specialist in that field.

Regarding #2, The Order of Dedication of a Church and an Altar has, in chapter 3, The Order of the Dedication of a Church in Which Sacred Celebrations Are Already Regularly Taking Place. I have a commentary on that chapter in my book, New Church, New Altar. There are plenty of examples of Masses taking place on yet-to-be-consecrated altars, but it’s not ideal. Your archbishop may have specific views, so it’d be worth asking.

Blessings on your ministry.