The great cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, one of the most iconic buildings in the world, is on fire. They’ll probably be able to save part of it, but the whole building looks critically damaged. The cause appears to have been an accident during restoration work.
The real issue seems to have been poor coordination between the French government and the Catholic Church on upkeep and renovations. The cathedral was in pretty bad shape even before the fire. Were the renovations rushed and badly planned? It seems obvious.
Under France’s strict secular laws, the government owns the cathedral, and the Catholic archdiocese of Paris uses it permanently for free. The priests for years believed the government should pay for repairs, since it owned the building. But under the terms of the government’s agreement, the archdiocese is responsible for Notre Dame’s upkeep, with the Ministry of Culture giving it about €2 million ($2.28 million) a year for that purpose. Staff say that money covers only basic repairs, far short of what is needed. Without a serious injection of cash, some believe, the building will not be safe for visitors in the future. Now the archdiocese is seeking help to save Notre Dame from yielding to the ravages of time.
Ironically, in 1871 during the Paris Commune, the communards were going to destroy the great cathedral as a symbol of Catholic reaction but they decided against it.
Fortunately, the Committee of Public Safety immediately ordered that Notre Dame be evacuated. It survived. The Archbishop of Paris was not so lucky. On 24 May, with government forces closing in on the city hall, the Communard police chief ordered the aged Archbishop and other clerical hostages before a firing squad. Failing to kill him with two volleys, the firing squad administered the coup de grace with their bayonets.
What atheistical communist revolution failed to achieve, capitalist neglect and poorly thought out safety regulations finally accomplished.