The deciding issue concerning the position of the priest at the altar is, as we have said, the nature of the Mass as a sacrificial offering. The person who is doing the offering is facing the one who is receiving the offering; thus, he stands before the altar, positioned ad Dominum, facing the Lord.
If, nowadays, the aim is to emphasize the aspect of the communal meal during the "Eucharistic Feast" by celebrating versus populum, this aim is not being met, at least not in the way some might have hoped. The new arrangement has the "meal leader" positioned at the table, by himself. The other "meal participants" are situated in the nave, or in the "auditorium," not directly connected to the "meal table." ...
The focus must forever be on God, not man. This has always meant that everyone turn towards Him in prayer, rather than that the priest face the people. From this insight, we must draw the necessary conclusion and admit that the celebration versus populum is, in fact, an error. In the final analysis, celebration versus populum is a turning towards man, and away from God.
Die Reform der römischen Liturgie
[Image source: Mysterium Fidei - announcing the monthly Mass at the Basilica of the Most Precious Blood, in Bruges - next one on Aug. 28.]