Wow, I was honored to see that Fr. Z. blogged about a question which I sent to him. It feels like when a little kid gets a reply to his letter from his favorite sports athlete.
I know the question seems to be liturgical minutia, but I was honestly surprised to see the altar crucifix facing that way given what I have been used to seeing in the past at Saint Peter's with Archbishop Piero Marini at the MC helm. I am also interested in liturgical minutae because I just want to learn liturgy as best I can, and because I respect the liturgy. When you don't pay attention to detail, the liturgy can get sloppy. I can say this from experience. Knowledge and planning of the liturgy can make a world of difference.
But the question came up because I have seen priests make a big deal about this. At our parish, the priest has the crucifix facing him (as in the picture above). But at another place I go to Mass (which I would say is pretty conservative compared to many other places in the diocese), the powers that be insist the altar crucifix HAS to face the people.
It's good to have a reasonable answer now.