By Theodore Shoebat
It is a sad day for us Christians, seeing such a monument of Christianity’s beauty and triumph, destroyed by flames. The fire has only been so far “potentially linked” to the renovation of the building, and currently this is being suspected as an accident. Nonetheless, so far we do not emphatically know the full story as to how the beautiful cathedral has been set to the flames. What we do know is that the edifice of the divine is being torn apart by the destructive flames. A report from Le Telegramme reads that “A fire broke out this Monday around 6:50 pm at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The fire would be ‘potentially linked’ to the renovation of the building. The fire, whose gravity still remained to be determined, took in the attic of the most visited historical monument in Europe.”
— Wladimir Garcin-Berson (@vladogb) April 15, 2019
So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
The top of the church is now falling apart:
— Nazeeha Saeed (@nazihasaeed) April 15, 2019
Horrific! Engulfed in flames. Poor Notre Dame! The smoke and flames are overwhelming. Complete mayhem here! pic.twitter.com/KueoKCxb0b
— Dawn Lehmann (@dclehmann) April 15, 2019
Could this have been a deliberate attack? While we don’t know for now, it would not be surprising given the fact that there have been several attacks on churches in France in recent months. For example, in March of 2019 the Saint Sulpice Church was set to flames in a deliberate attack according to Le Parisien:
For the police, no possible doubt: the fire that damaged the entrance to the Saint-Sulpice church (VI e ) Sunday afternoon did nothing accidental. “The fire is from a pile of clothes and clothes do not ignite by themselves,” says a police source.
The origin of the incident is, according to the first conclusions of the central laboratory of the police headquarters, “human” and “deliberate”. “An individual was ablaze and threw a few days earlier a cloth side street Palatine,” says the mayor (LR) of the VI th district Jean-Pierre Lecoq.
The Catholic News Agency wrote a detailed report on the numerous recent attacks on churches in France:
At least 10 incidents of vandalism and desecration of Catholic churches have been reported in France since the beginning of February, according to French news sources and watch groups.
Vandals in Catholic churches throughout the country have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist, burnt altar cloths and torn down crosses, among other acts of desecration of religious items.
According to La Croix International, one of the earliest incidents occurred February 4 at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles, Yvelines, where a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was found smashed on the ground. The church had experienced earlier incidents of vandalism just weeks prior, when the altar cross was found thrown to the ground and the celebrant’s chair was damaged.
The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, a Christian watchdog group, documented another attack at St. Nicholas Church on February 10, when the tabernacle was found thrown to the ground. A 35 year-old man later confessed to committing the act to police.
On February 5, an altar cloth was found burnt and crosses and statues torn down or disfigured at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, in south-central France. The fire was found early by a parish secretary and did not spread, though the smoke damaged the altar and adjacent walls.
The 800 year-old building had also recently undergone renovations, local sources reported.
On February 6, just a day after the Saint-Alain Cathedral incident, vandals at a Catholic Church in Nimes broke into the tabernacle and scattered the hosts on the ground, drew a cross on the wall with excrement and damaged other religious items in the church, according to local reports.
In a statement posted to the Diocesan website, Bishop Robert Wattebled of Nimes denounced the desecration, which “greatly affects our diocesan community. The sign of the cross and the Blessed Sacrament have been the subject of serious injurious actions. This act of profanation hurts us all in our deepest convictions,” he said.
The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe documented another incident on February 9 at the Church of Notre-Dame de Dijon in Côte-d’Or, about 175 miles to the south and east of Paris.
Again in this incident, the tabernacle was opened and the Eucharist scattered. An altar cloth was also stained and a missle book was torn.
Father Emmanuel Pic from Notre-Dame parish told La Bien Public news that since nothing of great monetary value was damaged, it seems the vandals wanted to attack the “heart of the Catholic faith.”
The vandals seemed to have known that attacking the altar and the Eucharist would be “a very strong symbol for (parishioners), since the hosts consecrated during the previous Mass are no longer just a piece of bread in the eyes of Christians” but the body of Christ, he added. The priest also posted photos of the desecration to his Twitter account. Mass resumed at the parish after a Mass of reparation was said by the local archbishop.
In a statement posted to Twitter on February 13, Prime Minister of France Edouard Philippe also condemned the acts ahead of a meeting with the country’s bishops.
“In one week, in France, 5 degraded churches. In our secular Republic, places of worship are respected. Such acts shock me and must be unanimously condemned. I will tell the bishops of France at the meeting of the forum of dialogue with the Catholic Church,” he said.
Besides the confession in the incident at St. Nicholas Church, investigations are ongoing as to the perpetrators of these acts of vandalism.
For now we do not know for certain what caused the fire in Notre Dame, but if it was deliberate it would not be shocking at all.