Notre-Dame still at risk of destruction, says rector

Paris, France, Dec 27, 2019 / 09:12 am (CNA).- This year Christmas Mass was not celebrated at Notre-Dame de Paris for the first time since the French First Republic, and the cathedral’s rector says that there is a significant chance the building cannot be rebuilt safely.

The church “is not out of danger,” Monsignor Patrick Chauvet said to the Associated Press Dec. 24. “It will be out of danger when we take out the remaining scaffolding.”

The scaffolding, which was present on the building prior to the April 15 fire due to restoration work, fused together during the blaze. There are an estimated 551 tons of metal still present on top of the cathedral.

“Today we can say that there is maybe a 50% chance (the cathedral) will be saved,” said Chauvet. “There is also (a) 50% chance of scaffolding falling onto the three vaults, so as you can see, the building is still very fragile,” he added.

The last time Christmas Mass was not celebrated at Notre-Dame was in 1803, the final Christmas under the French First Republic. In 1793, amid the French Revolution which established the republic, the cathedral was “re-dedicated” to the “Cult of Reason,” a state-created religion that was intended to replace Catholicism. It was returned to the Church in the early 19th century.

Chauvet said that once the scaffolding is removed, the restoration work will begin. He does not think that this will happen until 2021 at the earliest.

“We need to remove completely the scaffolding in order to make the building safe, so in 2021 we will probably start the restoration of the cathedral,” he said. “Once the scaffolding is removed, we need to assess the state of the cathedral, the quantity of stones to be removed and replaced.”

After the reconstruction begins, it will take about three years before the cathedral can be open to the public, Chauvet said. Although French President Emmanuel Macron vowed in the days after the fire that the cathedral would be rebuilt in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics, which will be hosted in Paris, this appears unlikely.

When the fire began, it was feared that the entire building could be lost. After 12 hours of firefighting, only the roof and spire were lost, and the majority of the stone vaults held. The vast majority of the treasures and relics that were stored in the cathedral, including the Crown of Thorns, were removed from church and were undamaged.

In addition to the structural damage caused by the fire, the flames also released a large amount of toxic lead dust due to the collapse of the spire. Levels of lead concentration in and around the cathedral are approximately 500 to 800 times the threshold for acceptable exposure levels.

Since the blaze, one Mass has been celebrated in the cathedral. On June 16, the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral’s altar, a small Mass was celebrated in one of the side chapels that had not been damaged by the fire. All who attended had to wear protective hard hats during the Mass.

It is still undetermined what caused the fire. Authorities suggest it could have been either a cigarette or an electrical malfunction.

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1 Comment

  1. A Comment on The Holy family and the Unity of God’s Family. Notre Dame’s unprecedented crisis matches the crisis of the Christian Family. Lucia Dos Santos wrote 1983 then Pres Pont John Paul II Inst Studies on Family and Marriage Cardinal Caffarra in a widely known account that the Family would be the end times focus of Satan’s efforts. Editor Olson quotes John Paul II that “The family is the human communion by which life is received and love is given and then offered to others. The family is the core of social and relational life, and without it, humanity ceases to exist”. Lucia according to Cardinal Caffarra said Satan is constructing an anti creation agenda centered on the “sacred relation between Man and Woman” (Diane Montagna Aleteia). Olson notes the spread of same sex relationships in his 2007 article. Today we have a Roman Catholic Church that has virtually eradicated the legacy of John Paul II and is reevaluating homosexual behavior. The Holy Family is the centerpiece of Roman Catholicism attested to by that eminent father of the Church Saint Cyril of Alexandria. He identifies the Incarnation, the flesh and blood of Mary that enfleshed Jesus as the sacrament that conveys divinity and Unity. I add that the Real Presence evident in the love shared within the Holy Family mirrors the Trinity of Persons. Saint Cyril instructs us that the Holy Eucharist shared by the Christian body instills a communal bond of charity within us. Assault against this divinely instituted sacred unity of the Mystical Body is evident in the doctrines of Amoris Laetitia regarding Holy Communion for Adulterers, and other “irregular unions” implying cohabitation and homosexual relationships. Many, too many who attest to belief in Christ are in compliance with the Vatican’s New Paradigm believing if it’s from the Pontiff it must be divinely inspired. This is where the fiery crisis that threatens to reoccur and entirely destroy Notre Dame threatens the faith. Error can occur in non definitive non binding policy which is exactly the current crisis. All the more must we adhere to the witness of the Apostles and the splendid pure glow of divine love within the Holy family.

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