French Officials Avoid Drawing Hasty Conclusions as Notre Dame Fire Erupts on the Heels of St. Sulpice Arson
by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - French investigators are still “favoring the theory of an accident” as the cause of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire that began Monday evening and ended Tuesday morning, despite an unnamed police source telling French reporters that the case was “extraordinary,” according to the news outlet Le Monde.
The fire burned for eight hours as Holy Week began and consumed most of the 6.8 million dollars in renovations that had been invested in the structure in an ongoing effort to restore it.
"Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame," said Cathedral spokesman Andre Finot, though several artifacts from inside the church, among them the great organ and putative crown of thorns worn by Jesus before his crucifixion, had been salvaged from the charred structures that remained.
Remy Heitz, the public prosecutor for Paris, said that the investigation thus far had yielded “nothing [to] suggest...that it was an intentional act,” as all but the most controversial media commentators have been loath to associate the fire with a series of underreported church attacks in France over the last two months.
The attacks, in which crucifixes, consecrated hosts, and statues of the Virgin Mary were either desecrated or mangled, were twelve in total, and culminated in a fire at the Church of Saint Sulpice, the second-largest edifice of Christendom in Paris after Notre Dame, on March 17th.
In that case, firefighters deemed the cause to be arson.
Ellen Fantini, Director of the Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, said her organization had noted a 25% increase in anti-Christian acts in France in the first two months of this year over against the first two months of 2018.
The German site PI-News, moreover, documented 1,063 acts of vandalism against French Christian monuments in 2018 in a country so steeped in Christian symbolism and history that it was once known as the “eldest daughter of the church,” serving as the seat of the papacy for almost a century.
The figure was itself a 17% spike from the previous year.
“[There is] a rising hostility in France against the church and its symbols...coming from the radical secularists or anti-religion groups,” observed Fantini about the trend, which recently led two members of the French National Assembly to call for an investigation into “the multiplication of anti-Christian acts” across the country.
Over the centuries, Notre Dame, which finished construction in the 14th century and took 182 years to build, saw King Henry VI of England crowned king, Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor of France, and Joan of Arc declared a saint within its walls.
The symbolic value of the Lord of the Rings-esque images of the church’s burning spire that surfaced online was lost on few.
“It is as if God Himself wanted to warn us in the most unmistakable way that Western Christianity is burning -- and with it, Western civilization,” radio commentator Dennis Prager lamented after seeing what is perhaps the most iconic repository of the West’s Christian heritage go up in flames, calling the event an “omen.”
French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the historic landmark within five years, an effort to which over a billion dollars has already been donated.
Among the parts of the cathedral still standing was a golden cross at the back of the sanctuary, which seemed to have been untouched by the blaze.
Cross still standing at Norte Dame after the flames cleared. Where there is light there is always hope! pic.twitter.com/7qdZFPEi3u
— Jason Bauer. (@jbowsk16) April 17, 2019