A little after 11 o’clock, on the morning of Monday, April 15, I received a text from my Mom. She sent me a picture of her television screen with the message: “Oh my!!! Spire collapsed!!!!”
I enlarged the image. I couldn’t believe it. Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was in flames. During Holy Week, no less. What does it all mean?
For the next 15 hours, I was tuned in to France24. During that time, I experienced a bunch of emotions. I was sad as I followed the news intently. Next, I grew concerned: was anyone hurt or trapped inside? Puzzled, I wondered how the fire started. I also felt nostalgic and grateful for the times I visited Notre-Dame.
Then I feared the worst: that Notre-Dame would burn to the ground and be gone forever. But thankfully that didn’t happen. It suffered major damage to its roof and lost its spire, but Notre-Dame is still there.
On social media, links to organizations collecting donations started to pop up. One after another. Reposted. Retweeted. Repeated.
But guess what?
I won’t be donating any money to rebuild it.
Maybe you’re thinking:
Say what? Don’t you love everything French? You’re Catholic. Aren’t you supposed to help others?
I know, I’m surprised at myself, too.
I just don’t have the heart to donate money to rebuild Notre-Dame because seeing it engulfed in orange and red broke it a little bit. 💔
It’s not that I think Notre-Dame is less important or not important at all. Without a doubt, I have only respect and admiration for all of the people who built the remarkable structure and maintained it throughout the centuries. Not only years, but hundreds of years! That fact blows my mind.
I believe it’s not cool:
- for some media to capitalize on, exploit people’s sentimental feelings, and extract money from fans of Notre-Dame/Paris/France when they/we are emotional wrecks at the moment!
- when there are some people who only do good when it can be seen or when they can be recognized for their generosity. This is Holy Week and a Bible verse comes to mind that roughly means “don’t give oneself credit for providing charity to others; just give and forget about it” (Matthew 6:3).
For example, some corporations have made huge pledges, which will certainly help expedite the rebuilding of the beloved cathedral. But why be showy about it by disclosing the amount? It feels cheap to me. Can you imagine various corporate logos somewhere on the Notre-Dame of the 21st century? I hope that won’t happen.
What I’d like to see happen
In France, cathedrals are owned by the state, not the Catholic Church, so it bears the financial responsibility of repairing and rebuilding it. Since it’s no secret that the Catholic Church is worth billions, in my opinion, the Catholic Church should make a generous charitable contribution to rebuild Notre-Dame. The action would also help repair the Catholic Church’s tarnished reputation.
Like a gargoyle protecting Notre-Dame’s cultural and historical importance from being watered down and eroded of its sanctity, by not donating, I’m not giving in to cheap, manipulative tactics by some to crowdsource funds.
There are far wealthier sources. I have faith the Church will do the right thing by making a generous charitable contribution to rebuild Notre-Dame.
Whether damaged, in the midst of rebuilding, or fully restored, I’m looking forward to experiencing the cathedral again. In the meantime, I’ll be thinking of the hundreds of courageous firefighters who extinguished the blaze and wishing the injured individuals a speedy recovery!