Divisions emerge over Notre Dame restoration

Inside Notre Dame Cathedral following last month’s fire (CNS/Philippe Wojazer, Reuters)

One month after fire ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, one of the iconic landmarks of western civilisation still stands, but controversy lingers as restoration efforts are now under way. Source: Crux.

To date, more than $1.4 billion has been pledged to rebuild the historic cathedral. Last week, Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit said that the Foundation of Notre Dame, as well as the diocese of Paris, continue to accept donations as the needs are “far from finished.”

President Emmanuel Macron – who just days after the fire said he’d like the rebuilding to be complete in five years, before the city plays host to the summer Olympic games in 2024 – kicked off an international competition for plans to redesign the cathedral’s roof, which was devastated in the fire.

Notre-Dame was nationalised in 1789 during the French Revolution, and remains the property of the French state. By law, the Church has exclusive use of the building, but the government covers the cost of building maintenance and repairs.

Last week a bill made its way through the National Assembly, France’s legislative body, put forward by La République En Marche (LREM), Mr Macron’s party, which has garnered criticism from its own members, the opposition, and especially art historians and preservationists.

The bill has a stated aim “for the restoration and conservation of the cathedral and establishing a national fund for this purpose.” In its current form, it would allow for up to 75 per cent of donations toward the efforts to be tax deductible and would allow state authorities to manage the worksite, construction, and preservation initiatives, with the president of the French Republic granted wide-ranging executive decision-making power.

Much of the controversy centres on whether the funds will be used to restore the cathedral to its original design or if it will entail a complete redesign, or at a least a modified one.

Many have expressed concern that Mr Macron could make the cathedral’s rebuilding a personal vanity project, over national interests.

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French president faces questions over Notre Dame restoration (Crux

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