It’s been over one week since the massive fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, and I thought I would follow-up with a few observations and questions:
- The media coverage of the fire and the aftermath were intense. Note Dame is one of the most famous symbols and tourist destinations in France, Europe, and even the Western world with 14 million visitors annually. Why? What does Notre Dame mean to people that it evokes so much interest and coverage? France is largely a secular nation at this point with Catholic sources reporting that only 7 percent of French Catholics attend mass on Sunday. So why did France’s citizenry get so incredibly worked up over Notre Dame?
- Sympathy poured into Paris from around the world because of the fire. There were even messages of solidarity from individual “evangelicals” and organizations (see here and here). Why? The salvation system preached at Notre Dame, the same preached at every Catholic church in the world, is a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit.
- French President, Emmanuel Macron, vowed to rebuild Notre Dame in five years. Donations totaling $1 billion were pledged towards the rebuilding project in only a few days. Why? There are serious unfulfilled material needs throughout the entire world, but the Notre Dame fire triggered a huge and immediate outpouring of concern and “generosity” of a proportion rarely seen.
- We learned that as Notre Dame’s roof burned, church employees and first responders were busy “saving” the “Blessed Sacrament”* reposing in the church’s tabernacle box as well as several purported relics such as Jesus’ alleged crown of thorns, faux shards of the “true cross,” and a three-inch nail claimed to have been used in the crucifixion. Contemplate the misguided souls risking their lives underneath the flaming roof to “save” consecrated bread wafers, which Catholics believe to actually be Jesus.
- The cause of the Notre Dame fire is still being investigated, but it happened at a time when several Catholic churches in France have been plagued by arson and vandalism.
Once again, I don’t applaud the destruction of property or the endangering of human life, but I certainly don’t have any sad feelings about the conflagration at Notre Dame. Over a span of 800 years, millions of souls attending Notre Dame have been fed a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit.
The huge outpouring over Notre Dame is actually an interesting statement about the current state of the Catholic church and institutional religion in general. The majority of baptized Catholics no longer pay attention to the rigors and rituals of their works religion, but their membership in the institutional church and its monuments still have some significance for them, if nothing more than serving as sentimental familial and “tribal” identifications/connections.
*The New York Times was derided for misinterpreting reports of the “body of Christ” being saved at Notre Dame as a statue of Jesus rather than the consecrated Jesus wafers. See here. Of course, the Catholic church’s claim that the consecrated bread wafers are actually Jesus is the MUCH MORE serious error.