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Paris archdiocese to present plans for Notre-Dame’s interior amid outcry

CNA Staff By CNA Staff

Repair scaffolding on Notre-Dame de Paris, November 2019. (Image: Vicente Sargues/Shutterstock)

Paris, France, Nov 29, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

The Catholic Archdiocese of Paris will present its plans for the restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral’s interior next week after it dismissed criticism that its proposals would turn the site into “a kind of theme park.”

Officials will submit their proposals to France’s National Heritage and Architecture Commission on Dec. 9 amid a new outcry over the restoration of the cathedral badly damaged by fire in 2019, reported AFP.

The news agency said that the archdiocese denied foreign media reports that the celebrated French Gothic cathedral, built between 1163 and 1345, risked being transformed into a theme park or filled with jarring contemporary art.

The Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported on Nov. 26 that critics feared the changes would turn the building into a “politically correct Disneyland.”

It said that “confessional boxes, altars, and classical sculptures will be replaced with modern art murals, and new sound and light effects to create ‘emotional spaces.’”

“There will be themed chapels on a ‘discovery trail,’ with an emphasis on Africa and Asia, while quotes from the Bible will be projected onto chapel walls in various languages, including Mandarin,” it added.

Maurice Culot, an architect who has seen the plans, told the newspaper: “It’s as if Disney were entering Notre-Dame.”

“What they are proposing to do to Notre-Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or St. Peter’s in Rome. It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place,” he commented.

In an interview with AFP, Father Gilles Drouin, the priest overseeing the interior restoration, appeared to confirm the proposals but argued that they did not amount to a radical change.

He explained that the restoration sought to preserve the cathedral as a place of worship, but also to welcome and educate visitors “who are not always from a Christian culture.”

He said that side chapels would feature “portraits from the 16th and 18th century that will be in dialogue with modern art objects.”

“The cathedral has always been open to art from the contemporary period, right up to the large golden cross by sculptor Marc Couturier installed by [the then archbishop of Paris] Cardinal Lustiger in 1994,” he said.

The French government is overseeing the cathedral’s structural restoration and conservation, but the cathedral authorities are responsible for its interior renewal.

The plans must ultimately be approved by France’s Ministry of Culture. Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot has previously suggested that the restored cathedral should look “identical” to before the fire.

This is not the first time that restoration plans have generated controversy. Critics denounced a proposal leaked in December 2020 to replace architect Viollet-le-Duc’s historic stained-glass windows with colorful contemporary designs in the chapels around the nave.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese told the National Catholic Register at the time that “it goes without saying that the archbishop has never had any intention to turn the cathedral into an airport or a parking lot.”

The cathedral will reportedly reopen for worship with a Te Deum on April 16, 2024, five years after the blaze. Later that year, Paris will host the Summer Olympics.

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  1. If these absurd proposals are being seriously considered, it is nothing short of disgusting. This church is a house of worship for a specific religion, that of the Catholic church. There is no good reason to use lights, projections of foreign languages and other touristy gimmicks to lure visitors and non-catholics. Nor to turn it into the equivalent of a shopping mall or commercial building lobby, with just as much emotional appeal. This is not THEIR church. Nor should they install modern atrocities of “art” such as faceless and twisted lumps of steel which are supposed to represent saints, such as those I have seen elsewhere. Most of these are non-inspirational pieces of junk that could be replicated by the average artistically unskilled 8 year old. Something you could never say about a Michaelangelo. I would have imagined that falling attendance numbers and low collection plate hauls would have been enough to notify the woke clergy that leftist “one size fits all” attitudes, and modern global “renovations” are not welcome in their church structures. It’s as if they intend to appeal to everyone in the whole world, EXCEPT those who will actually worship here. How sad that they are so convinced of their own self-righteousness that they can’t understand this. I think they had better replace Father Drouin immediately, if not sooner, before he effects any permanent damage with this nonsense. Disgusting.

  2. They claim they will incorporate biblical verses. There are many that invoke warnings against vanity. Maybe the first verse they might use were they to take seriously enough the Catholic principle of never presuming superiority to the peoples of the past, hopefully leading to an reconsideration to cancel their whole stupid project would be: “What is man, that thou are mindful of him?”

  3. In the French Revolution of 1789 the bloodthirsty and atheistic mob installed a naked prostitute on the high altar of Notre Dame as the “Goddess of Reason.” In 2021 the same bloodthirsty and atheistic mob want to exceed this blasphemy by turning all of Notre Dame into a Pachamama temple devoted to the worship of its Marxist this-world materialism, ecologism, modernism, and cultural and sexual “diversity.” This is occurring under the direction of an Archbishop of Paris who has been accused of fornication and adultery with a married woman.

  4. When the cathedral was torched in 2019 conscientious people knew what would transpire — not the restoration of a timeless work of ecclesiastical architecture but the sacrilegious desecration of a consecrated church. Then we were assured that would not happen — and now here it is. I never believed it would be otherwise. A temple to earth goddess Pachamama is announced just days after Macron visited the South American Jesuit pope in Rome.
    Hopefully, if this cannot be adverted, the ruin will collapse.
    “What they are proposing to do to Notre-Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or St. Peter’s in Rome.” Really? We’ve seen nothing yet. We are in the hands of demonic liars in both Church and society.

    • I agree entirely. I am.utterly convinced that the burnig down of Notre Dame was deliberate and is extremely significant, a warning in fact to Europe and the world. Such desolating times,and yet a wonderful opportunity to keep the faith and by that I mean in Jesus Christ.

  5. In the modern era, the persistent glory of French cathedrals has always been that as part of the national architectural heritage, whose maintenance is the responsibility of the state, they are mostly immune to the ravages of post-conciliar “renovators.” For many years, I have told my students that the worst thing that could ever happen to a French cathedral would be to transfer its custody to the French Catholic Church, instead of keeping it in the hands of the French government. I explained that the Church authorities would immediately set about “updating” the interiors in the same manner that German, Austrian, Swiss and American churches have very often been destroyed. Now, we are about to witness the truth of this in the tragic “Disneyland renovation” of Notre Dame de Paris.

    In most nations, the liturgy was turned into an amusement park first, and the Churches wrecked afterwards, to better reflect the nonsense taking place in the interior. Since “wreckovation” has mostly been impossible in France, the dignified interiors have worked to check the worst abuses of liturgy. However, once Notre Dame’s interior is destroyed, it will become just another site for pantheistic expression, with Pachamama soon making her demonic presence on the altar.

  6. He said that side chapels would feature “portraits from the 16th and 18th century that will be in dialogue with modern art objects.”

    Vacuous and yet revealing. No sensible person speaks this way.

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