European churches are currently engaged in an architectural culture war.

Cardinal Gian­franco Rav­asi declared the outbreak of hostilities in 2013 with a sweeping condemnation of many recently built churches in Italy, which, he said, were intended to win design prizes rather than to serve the needs of liturgy. Instead of seeking to create a suitable mood for celebration or meditation, architects have extolled ab­stract geometric form. Ig­noring religious needs, they “tend instead to focus on space, lines, light and sound.”

Nonsense, replied those pro­gressive architects. Con­cepts of the appropriate setting for Christian worship have changed enormously through the centuries. Throughout history reactionaries have condemned innovative buildings that over time come to be recognized as epochal masterpieces.