The Assumption Grotto in the US has removed its forward facing altar, so all Masses are now celebrated facing East. The Rector writes:
When I carefully studied the book The Spirit of the Liturgy by then-Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), I realized that we ought to be facing East once again and not towards the people since that position inadvertently created a “closed circle” that did not aim towards heaven, towards God (East), but towards man (symbolically indicating that man and not God was the focal point of the Mass). In the early years of my pastorship here, the low altar was used variously: first, facing the people; then facing East; and then, with a move of the altar farther back some feet towards the main altar, with the priest still facing East. We were getting progressively more in line with an ideal.It makes sense, there was apparently talk, there is always talk of course, in the CDW of issuing a statement/decree about the unicity of altars, only having one, on a sanctuary or in a side chapel. It was really designed to promote the use of original High Altars and promote eastward or apsidum facing Mass. The idea was dropped because of course it would have meant more destruction and most probably of the old altar rather than its johnny-come-lately sanctuary-mate. However having two altars, one in front of another, on a sanctuary is just a destructive sign of "the altar" which is the sign of Christ, the Rock.
Over time I began to think it foolish for us to use the low altar while neglecting the church’s original. In addition, there was a problem having two altars. There ought to be only one altar prominent (main) in a church, not two. Moreover, for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass (now once again available to us), the low altar kept getting in our liturgical way.
Fine, you may say, but what is to be done should a visiting priest want to celebrate Mass facing the people? We have already provided for that in having readily available an altar that can be set in place in a matter of minutes. It too is suitably made, containing an true altar stone and thus worthy of Holy Mass.
The problem with anyone who has read Ratzinger on the liturgy, and takes him seriously, a has serious problems with not facing East. A few brave souls have actually started to celebrate this way, I have most of the Masses celebrated here face east, people asked for it after we had the sanctuary floor up for a month and it was impossible to say Mass facing the people, but I think most other clergy, those who have not read modern liturgical authors tend to regard it as more than eccentric. Most bishops would regard it as totally bizarre, and be suspicious of priests who celebrate Mass this way, indeed I suspect that Fr Perrone's "wheel on" altar is really for visiting bishops. The truth is that facing either direction is a free choice for any priest, in the Ordinary Form, it is as much an option as the choice of Eucharistic Prayer or Penitential Rite. It isn't like the choice between using the Introit or substituting a hymn where the preference should always be for the appropriate liturgical text.
I have been hunting on the net for the CDW response to an American who wanted to forbid priests in his diocese from celebrating Mass facing "ad apsidum" and was told he could not.