Notre-Dame De Paris, April 17, 2019 © Anita Sanchez

Notre Dame of Paris, 'Notre Dame of the Heart,' One Month Later

Press Release of the Archbishop

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One Month after the Fire in the Cathedral, Where Are We? 

“Our Lady of the Heart”

The global wave of support after the fire in the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris at the beginning of Holy Week, on Monday, April 15, belongs henceforth to the history of this building. The collection of funds, as well as the promises of gifts, supports in kind and competence, express the global momentum ignited in just a few hours. Not to mention the spiritual fervor that resulted, which will never be able to be measured.
Two essential question marks remain to this day and lead to important commentaries:

  • The necessary budget, duly verified, is still unknown, so that faithful and tourists can enter there again to recollect themselves, to admire the building, in fully satisfactory conditions of safety and security. Expert opinions are far from being complete.
  • No Foundation or Authority has consolidated the collection evoked (the famous “billion”). Although there will probably be no questioning of the most important gifts promised by renown patrons, who committed themselves publicly, it remains true, nonetheless, that the greater part of gifts have not yet been concretized. The reason is simple. The discussions are just starting to prepare private law conventions. They will also serve as framework to express the will of important donors.

It’s the same for the messages, very numerous, which have accompanied the most modest gifts. They are the object of a very careful examination by the Notre Dame Foundation, which will be able to make this expression public in mid-June, that is, two months after the fire.
This is why the collection continues! In fact, as the experts’ work advances, the needs appear considerable. Every euro donated will be a euro that will serve to rebuild the heart of the Cathedral. It will help to finance an ambitious but necessary program that responds to the expectations that were to be satisfied before April 15,” stressed the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Michel Aupetit, in response to numerous questions that continue to be posed by all publics. In regard to the Notre Dame Foundation has collected 9.5 M euros, about 43,000 from individuals, French and foreign (notably 7,000 Americans), and 4 M euros from important donors, namely 13.5 M euros.
The priority and essential objective is the restoration and conservation of the building. The Ministry of Culture has already made an appeal for funds amounting to 3.6 M euros for securing the construction site. Therefore, a part of the collection already realized will serve this indispensable employment.
The pursuit of funds will be done with the efforts of all, notably with the support of patrons. MM. Francois and Francois-Henri Pinault. M. Bernard Arnault and his family, as well as the LVMH group, have gladly committed to contribute 100 and 200 M euros respectively, for the restoration of the building, which is inscribed in the “Cathedral Program.”
Other patrons will make themselves known in the coming weeks. All the contributions will be the object of conventions with the Notre Dame Foundation, which will proceed by successive stages of transfers to public powers for the advancement of the construction site.
In addition to the conservation and restoration of Notre Dame, “the Cathedra Program“ aims also to find innovative solutions for:

  • The renovation of the cracked altar and of the furniture and liturgical objects (the reliquary of the Crown of Thorns, for example), deteriorated or partly destroyed.
  • Urgent support for the Higher School of Sacred Music (formation for diplomas, concerts).

A new access to visit the Cathedral’s treasure (one of the only regular resources  of the latter before the fire)

  • The re-transmission material by screen for the faithful, damaged and partly destroyed.
  • The equipment of the TV KTO chain (re-transmission), damaged or partly destroyed.
  • Indispensable studies on the reception circuit in the Cathedral and the interior layouts, in regard to the needs proper to the reception of faithful, tourists, pilgrims, visitors (13 million free tickets each year, which must remain so).
  • Safety and security regarding the responsibility of the diocese of Paris.

Moreover, according to the local possibilities of implantation, it will include:

  • Projects geared to persons in social difficulties, in keeping with the tradition of the Cathedral’s builders of past centuries. For the Church, it’s an inseparable priority of the building’s history.

In part of unoccupied areas of the Hotel-Dieu, dependent of the AP/HP, several activities could be held, which must be continued during the works. The Cathedral needs to be re-deployed. Works will be indispensable and the costs to be borne also.
The needs will necessarily be spread over several years, and the Notre Dame Foundation must be able to respond to them, the Cathedral no longer having any resource of its own.
The amount of works has not yet been figured out, but the needs are considerable.
As soon as possible, Monsignor Aupetit will celebrate a Mass in the Cathedral. For obvious security reasons, the public won’t be able to attend it except by intention. The KTO chain should be able to transmit the Office accessible to all (clear and on the Net).
It’s expected that many people will soon celebrate the Offices, and the diocese of Paris is making every effort to find solutions that guarantee recollection and security.

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Anita Bourdin

France. Journalist accreditated to the Holy See press office since 1995. Started Zenit in french in january 1999. Classical litterature (Paris IV-Sorbonne). Master in journalism (IJRS Bruxelles). Biblical theology (PUG, Rome).

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