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Vatican expresses “shock and sorrow” over Notre Dame fire [UPDATED]

People gather to pray and sing hymns as firefighters continue to battle flames at one of Europe’s most historic churches.

Flames and smoke billow from the Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire broke out in Paris April 15, 2019. Officials said the cause was not clear, but that the fire could be linked to renovation work. (CNS photo/Julie Carriat, Reuters)

The Vatican has expressed “shock and sorrow” over the news that large portions of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral have been destroyed in a fire that has yet to be completely contained. The Holy See Press Office released the following statement April 15 (English translation by Christopher R. Altieri):

The Holy See received with shock and sorrow the news of the terrible blaze that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christendom in France and in the world. We express our closeness to French Catholics and the citizenry of Paris. We pray for the firefighters and all those doing what can be done to face this dramatic situation.

As of now, there is no official word as to the cause of the devastating fire, though firefighters at the scene have told French media outlets that it may be connected to the extensive renovations that were underway at the cathedral.

As firefighters continue to work to contain the flames, people have gathered in large numbers to watch, pray, and even sing:


There have also been reports that the priceless works of art and relics housed in the cathedral — as well as the Blessed Sacrament — have been saved from the flames:

Update: The Paris fire chief has told the press that the main structure of the cathedral has been preserved, including the famous bell towers and the building’s facade. Photos from the interior of the damaged church are beginning to appear in media reports.

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.


  1. What will Pope Francis say about the pledges of Billions for the reconstruction of Notre Dame cathedral? Surely, Christianity, nowadays isn’t about building costly and impressive buildings, but rather about investing in doing the Work Christ taught in the Gospels: helping the poor, the sick, the isolated, the homeless, the mentally unstable…
    Of course it will be good and right to rebuild Notre Dame, but it should be done in a simple, pragmatic, cost effective style. It is a place of Worship, not a Museum! The New Testament never taught christians to build expensive churches.
    Wouldn’t it be a much better testimony to the spirit of Christianity in a country that is turning away from the Catholic Church more and more, to renounce the pomp and Glory and opt for simplicity and purity of form, using the remaining millions to support the christian charities who help the poor and needy in France ?
    Pope Francis is quotes in Vatican News, November 18: “Yet we Christians cannot stand with arms folded in indifference, or with arms outstretched in helplessness. No. As believers, we must stretch out our hands, as Jesus does with us. The cry of the poor finds a hearing with God, but does it with us? Do we have eyes to see, ears to hear, hands outstretched to offer help? “Christ himself appeals to the charity of his disciples in the person of the poor” (Gaudium et Spes, loc. cit.). He asks us to recognize him in all those who are hungry and thirsty, in the stranger and those stripped of dignity, in the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:35-36).”

  2. Today’s ruin written in stone in Paris is nothing less than a metaphor for the Bergoglian conflagration ignited by Archbishop Liénart of Lille at “the” council on October 13, 1962.
    The fire has been raging for almost sixty years and it only gets worse.
    Observe well how secular materialism and a complicit episcopate connive to turn the restoration of Notre Dame into a temple of the zeitgeist. It will only be a miracle of the first order should the on going desecration be thwarted.
    Be vigilant.
    Watch and pray.

  3. Should not we as disciples of the One True Church encourage our beloved Holy Father to look to the miles and miles of priceless treasures under the Vatican as a source of income to not only help restore Notre Dame but to also help the Poor? I understand that the Notre Dame Cathedral building belongs to the people of France but has not our beloved Church benefited from the free leasehold it has been given for these many hundreds of years? I understand that there is no insurance on the building. Hopefully, donations will cover the restoration but I don’t understand one thing: Our dear Pope tells us in the USA that we should take care of the poor and that we should let everyone who wants to walk into our country be allowed in, even though we have our own poor citizens who need help and we would be risking the threat of smart criminals who know that to come through our Southern borders is an easy way to get in and do their evil. Our beloved Church sits on over 2000 years worth of somebody else’s wealth. Why is that? Our beloved Church has no military cost to support. For whom and for what is all of this wealth being saved? If we are to look to the example of our precious Lord Jesus, are we not to question why he lived so simply and the cardinals and others in Vatican City live like true Princes? I hope that you don’t consider this to be “combative” or “inflammatory”. If you do, I am sorry but I am voicing only what many of my fellow Catholics think.

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