Conservatives don’t like Notre Dame’s renovation plans

The Institut Catholique of Paris wants to make Notre-Dame a religious space capable of welcoming visitors from outside the Christian culture, but the idea has not received universal praise.

Photo by Sebastien on Unsplash.

In the now globalized conservative world there’s great indignation over the restoration of the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame’s interior. The attack comes primarily from British publications – The Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and The Spectator – worried that the Medieval Cathedral could reopen as a “politically correct Disneyland”. This comes from the decision to make Notre-Dame more accessible to visitors of all faiths than it was prior to the April 2019 blaze, that risked to destroyed it. The monument structure – including its iconic spire, roof and beams – will not see any modern insert: it is being rebuilt under French government supervision and the plan is basically to replicate the cathedral’s pre-fire state. 

Conservative American media – as Fox News andWashington Examiner – did not miss the opportunity to fuel the controversy. “What they are proposing to do to Notre-Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or Saint Peter’s in Rome,” lamented Paris-based architect and urbanist Maurice Culot to The Telegraph. “It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place”.

Father Gilles Drouin – who heads the Department of Liturgy and the Sacraments at the Insitut Catholique in Paris and who is overseeing the renovation of the interior of Notre-Dame – speaking to Agence France-Presse denied the accusations about a “radical transformation”. He described instead a series of proposed alterations and new features designed to better accommodate a more diverse swath of visitors. Drouin’s aim for Notre-Dame is to literally rise it from the ashes as a sacred religious space and a monument able to welcoming and informing those “who are not always from a Christian Culture”.

The interior renovation work is helmed by church officials, but plans must ultimately be reviewed and approved by France’s National Heritage and Architecture Commission (CNPA). Like any other culturally and historically sensitive restoration project of this scale, much could change between now and its public debut ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics.

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