293. The suitable arrangement of a church, and of what goes with it, in such a way as to meet appropriately the needs of our own age requires not only that care be taken as regards whatever pertains more immediately to the celebration of sacred actions but also that the faithful be provided with whatever is conducive to their appropriate comfort and is normally provided in places where people habitually gather.
The first thing that comes to mind for me is accessibility. Do churches provide a hospitable place for the elderly, those with mobility issues, and also with sensory impairments? One issue that may be of higher consideration than seat padding is the ergonomics of pew design. In one parish I served many years ago, people did complain about the pews and there was a call for padding. When I consulted with an expert he said that pads weren’t going to help as many people as a more sensible design for seating. In my very first parish, I remember there wasn’t enough room under the pews for people with larger feet to kneel comfortably. It was a combination of a canted floor in the nave, high kneelers, and low seating. It’s amazing what the accumulation of an inch in each of those factors will deliver in terms of a penitential experience.