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Notre Dame Cathedral fire urges widespread support

by Matt Lauster - Staff Writer
Tue, Apr 23rd 2019 10:00 pm
smoke filled air The historic Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire on Monday, April 15. The fire was reportedly caused by an electrical short. The aftermath of the fire.
smoke filled air The historic Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire on Monday, April 15. The fire was reportedly caused by an electrical short. The aftermath of the fire.

On Monday, April 15, people all around the world watched in shock as a destructive fire tore down a beautiful and historic symbol of the Catholic faith; the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. 

The fire, which lasted almost an entire day, weakened the structure. Architects and crews with cranes worked hard at removing artifacts after the flames were extinguished, according to a report by CBS News. While there was a present response to the fire, a majority of the structure was damaged. 

Despite the magnitude of the fire, not all has been lost. The two front pillars have been saved along with the famous Crown of Thorns. According to the Associated Press, in a display of strength after the incident, the Crown was used in a Good Friday service within a week after the fire. 

CBS News stated that while the fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical short-circuit, a glitch from a computer inside the church is what led to the rapid spread of the flames as the computer showed the fire in a different part of the cathedral, delaying crews in finding the exact location of the flames. 

Perhaps what has led to the upcoming reconstruction plans of the structure and restoration of the artifacts in the Cathedral is the huge amount of money that has been donated to the recovery effort. According to the Washington Post there has been over $1 billion raised to help with the rebuilding of the famous church.

The donations are mainly attributed to multiple French businessmen who accounted for the aid sent to the cathedral. In fact, there was a donation of 100 million euros which translates to 112 million US dollars from a French luxury goods magnet Francois-Henri Pinault just a short time after most of the flames were put out. 

Joining Pinault in the generosity was the Bettencourt Meyers family who are of the main controllers of L’Oreal cosmetics. Also donating was oil giant Patrick Pouyanne who is the Chief Executive of Total. According to NBC News, companies such as Apple, Gucci and Chanel also have donated to help rebuild the cathedral. 

If there ever was a silver lining to the cathedral’s fiery destruction is the unity that has been provided by people all around the world. No matter the home, country or religious view, it seems that everyone realizes just how big of a deal this is and the over $1 billion that were raised is a clear indication of that. 

In a society where it seems people are divided more often than not, it is a nice change of pace to see people come together to help keep an iconic building from remaining in ashes.  

Even though the donations contributed are noble, there has been backlash to the philanthropic efforts from some of the highest in French society. Funding toward rebuilding the cathedral caused many to question if the same would be done for places of worship that is not associated with the christian faith. 

Those doubts were solidified when three prominently black baptist churches in the southern part of the United States burned down around the same time as the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. Those churches did not receive the same aid or recognition from outside parties or even from the President of the United States, Donald Trump. 

It is unfortunate that both these locations of faith did not receive the same attention from these large companies that have major stakes in the U.S. as well as the countries own leadership.

Besides the destruction of these buildings, the aftermath is a testament to the difference in treatment regarding race in America.

Perhaps the most prominent example of this hypocrisy came from Trump who, in a tweet, offered condolences and said he would offer any aid when it comes to the rebuilding of the iconic building. The tweet of course was met with opposing views from many tweets that pointed out how Trump famously was far more reluctant to offer aid to Puerto Rico after a destructive hurricane. 

Despite the large amount donated, the restoration and rebuilding process will be a long one requiring a large amount of effort. Even though the damage was disheartening as a proud member of the Catholic faith I know the building in France will be back. This disaster will not deter the faith, it is the people that make the church not the brick and stained glass holding it up.

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