We should network our brain power for this. Father’s tired.
From a reader:
I once wrote (by invitation) an article for a diocesan newspaper in which I mentioned, inter alia, that Vatican II never called for the priest to face the people, even though we have subsequently witnessed the virtual abolition of ad orientem worship. The local bishop pulled the article before the paper went to press and wrote me a private letter of explanation in which he said:
"I am going to put this on hold because there seems to be some great lacunae with regard to ‘Mass facing the people’ as it was sometimes called, that is, the Novus Ordo. [NB: This bishop simply assumes NO = facing the people.] I don’t understand how all of a sudden with regard to the Mass, the priests in the entire world could turn and face the people if there had not been some sort of Vatican legislation or permission granted to episcopal conferences for something which led the entire world to turn and face the people during Holy Mass. There seems to be a lacuna in this column. I think that without explanation this can cause grand confusion." [On the other hand, this bishop then based his own assumptions on another assumption he never really verified. That, in turn, became his law.]
This is indeed something I have always wondered about: how DID it happen that, almost overnight, ad orientem was thrown out and versus populum embraced? Can educated readers out there tell me the  basic history,  the key documents,  the permissions, etc.? In my opinion, versus populum is the single worst mistake that has ever been made in liturgical history, [Klaus Gamber would agree.] and so it seems very important that Catholics who are trying to "restore the sacred" should understand how this mistake could have happened in the first place. Otherwise I think we will have nothing intelligent to say when we are given the sort of response quoted above.
There was no document that required the destruction of existing altars. Vatican II did not required it. There was experimentation with it during the Liturgical Movement, often by those with protestantizing tendencies. The scholarship in those years which was advanced in support of Mass "facing the people" as an "ancient" practice, was later repudiated by the authors (e.g., Bouyer, Jungmann). The fact that they changed their minds was never given as much press as the errors they had committed earlier. This was a desideratum of liberals from long before the Council.
The great liturgical scholar Klaus Gamber said that of all the harmful things that came from the post-Conciliar reform, turning altars around was the most damaging.
There was a document which stated that for new construction, it should be possible for one to walk around the altar. The new GIRM in 299, widely and infamously mistranslated, states that if it is possible altars should be constructed in such a way that Mass can be said from either side.
The rubrics of the post-Conciliar Missale Romanum clearly assume that Mass is not "facing the people", that it is actually ad orientem.
Let’s get other readers involved.
PLEASE…. don’t … I repeat … don’t post comments such as "I like/don’t like Mass facing the people", or "Mass ad orientem is better" or "We need to return to Mass facing God!". UNHELPFUL! IRRELEVANT!
We want documents, articles, books, etc. We want some analysis.
How was this assumption of "facing the people" imposed?
Let’s see if we can build up sources.
Another directive: Don’t just dump links. Say why the links are important, what is said, what is useful from each. Quote or give a precis.