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Home/Rod Dreher/Church Wreckovators Prepare Notre-Dame Attack

Church Wreckovators Prepare Notre-Dame Attack

Notre-Dame de Paris survived the fire, but will she survive the renovations planned by the Archbishop of Paris? (Source)

The Telegraph‘s Tim Stanley, along with colleague Henry Samuel, scored quite a scoop: he reveals a secret plan to renovate — that is, wreckovate — Notre-Dame de Paris, and turn it into a Gothic Epcot Center. Read on:

Paris’ fire-ravaged Notre-Dame cathedral risks resembling a “politically correct Disneyland” under controversial plans for its renovation seen by the Daily Telegraph.

Critics have warned that the world-famous cathedral will be turned into an “experimental showroom” under plans to dramatically change the inside of the medieval building.

Under the proposed changes, confessional boxes, altars and classical sculptures will be replaced with modern art murals, and new sound and light effects to create “emotional spaces”.

There will be themed chapels on a “discovery trail”, with an emphasis on Africa and Asia, while quotes from the Bible will be projected onto chapel walls in various languages, including Mandarin.

The final chapel on the trail will have a strong environmental emphasis.

“It’s as if Disney were entering Notre-Dame,” said Maurice Culot, a prize-winning Paris-based architect, urbanist, theorist and critic who has seen the plans.

“What they are proposing to do to Notre-Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or Saint Peter’s in Rome. It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place,” he told The Telegraph.

A senior source close to the renovation said the plans risked turning the global beacon of Christianity into an “experimental showroom” that would “mutilate” the work of Viollet-le-Duc, the celebrated architect who restored the cathedral following the ravishes of the French Revolution in an effort to recapture the spirit of Medieval Christianity.

“Can you imagine the administration of the Holy See allowing something like this in the Sistine Chapel?,” said the senior source with access to the latest plans. “It would be unimaginable. We are not in an empty space here.”

“This is political correctness gone mad,” said the senior source. “They want to turn Notre-Dame into an experimental liturgical showroom that exists nowhere else whereas it should be a landmark where the slightest change must be handled with great care.”

Read the whole thing.

Tim is right here. I too have seen the plans, and they are shocking. For example, here is what the Archbishop of Paris and his wreckovators intend to do to the side chapels:

Down comes all the medieval stuff, including stained glass, and up goes abstract modern art. They also plan to project words in light onto the walls of the chapels.

I too spoke to a French expert about this, and the expert told me that the parts of the cathedral set to undergo the radical change are parts that survived the fire! That is, the Archbishop and his team plan to destroy parts of Notre-Dame that came through the fire intact. The fire is a pretext for modernization.

This is a scandal of global proportions. As Stanley and Samuel report, donors from around the world contributed a billion dollars to restore the great cathedral, and of course the French taxpayers are paying handsomely for this. Do they know that they will be paying to turn the place into a Disney exhibit?
The idea, I was told and Stanley & Samuel confirm, is to make the mother church of the French nation into a museum exhibit that will tell the story of Christianity to the millions of visitors who come through her doors. Again, I have seen the plans, and this is far more like an Epcot-style plan than anything to do with the Middle Ages, and the cathedral’s history. You don’t expect the French to fall for this kind of thing, but it does appear that the Archbishop and his associates are trying to ram this thing through without the people knowing what’s being done to their patrimony — and with their money!

Tim Stanley, a historian as well as a journalist, was just the right person to write this story, because his latest book, Whatever Happened To Tradition?, explores the meaning of tradition in the contemporary world. I read the book a couple of weeks ago, and it’s really quite good. You can get it by Kindle now, and it will be released next month in hardback in the US. Kale Zelden and I are going to have Tim on our podcast to talk about the book, and about Notre Dame, very soon. In a sidebar commentary in the Telegraph, Tim writes:

Yet while the exterior will be painstakingly reconstructed to look exactly as it did before – under public pressure – church leaders seem to be taking the opportunity to turn parts of the interior into a walk-around the history of Catholicism, complete with lighting and sound effects.

Out come some sculptures, confessional boxes and altars; in goes modern art. We’ve seen it done in English Cathedrals, and memories will return to the infamous helter-skelter installation at Norwich, or the crazy golf course at Rochester.

This is far more serious-minded, of course. The basic idea is that the tourists who come to Notre Dame have no idea what Catholics believe, so here’s a chance to teach them. But this experiment is being imposed on a far larger scale than anything I can think of in an English church, and it meddles with a masterpiece.

He goes on:

What’s needed is revived worship at Notre Dame. In a panic, some powerful people have opted for a museum.

 

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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