French Senate: Notre Dame Cathedral must be restored to ‘last known visual state’

A government funding request was approved that rules out 'inventive reconstruction,' as suggested by President Emmanuel Macron.
Wed May 29, 2019 - 8:14 pm EST
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The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris

PARIS, France, May 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The French Senate is calling for the restoration of the famed Notre Dame Cathedral to its original state after the disastrous fire of April 15 that heavily damaged the historic church.

Senators voted Monday to approve the government’s funding request but stipulated in an additional clause that it must be restored to exactly how it was before the fire.

The move is considered a blow to President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who had launched an international competition to come up with ideas as to how the veritable symbol of Catholic Europe should be restored.

The bill for the restoration will allow repair work to be completed before the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Conservative members of the Senate, the upper house of the French national legislature, have been critical of Macron’s vow to complete the restoration within five years. The Senate bill requires that the church be restored to its “last known visual state.”

The bill also stipulates that the coming restoration must re-create Eugène Viollet-le-Duc's spire, and that any use of new materials must be justified. The spire was an addition built in the 1800s to the church, whose cornerstone was laid down in 1163.

As ideas and designs began to circulate since the fire, debate arose between traditionalists, especially Christians, and those on the left who offered suggestions that included an “endless spire” of light emanating from the church, and a rooftop garden or swimming pool.

Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist mayor of Paris, however, requested that Notre Dame be restored to its original state, declaring herself a “conservative” on this point. President Macron had suggested “an inventive reconstruction” to make it “more beautiful” than before.

In addition to the clause regarding restoration of Notre Dame, the Senate is requiring the government to adhere to regulations regarding environmental and national heritage protections, planning, and public tenders. The law allows the government to create public project, under the authority of the Ministry of Culture, to oversee the works.

Macron does not have veto power, and because of the added clauses, the bill must be reconciled by the Senate and the National Assembly to reach an agreement on a version that will become law.

A 1905 law separating church and state allowed the government to seize churches, making them government property. French officials are in the midst of fundraising in order to renovate the cathedral after centuries of decay and neglect, including its desacralization during the French Revolution.

Before the fire, experts said in 2017 that addressing the building’s structural integrity would cost as much as $112 million. According to Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, only about 11 million euros have been donated to complete the project so far.

  anne hidalgo, catholic, edouard philippe, emmanuel macron, france, french senate, michel aupetit, ministry of culture, notre dame cathedral, paris

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