Tags: paris | notre dame | fire

French Sentiment Swings From Despair to Hope as Notre Dame Will Be Saved

French Sentiment Swings From Despair to Hope as Notre Dame Will Be Saved
This picture taken on April 18, 2019, shows Notre Dame cathedral three days after a fire engulfed the 850-year-old gothic masterpiece, destroying the roof and causing the steeple to collapse in the center of the French capital Paris. (Michel Euler/AFP/Getty Images)

By
Thursday, 18 April 2019 04:28 PM Current | Bio | Archive

From a rooftop in Paris where the smoke and glimmer of fire clouded the evening sky just three days ago, these are thoughts that may provide some context, some understanding, of what Parisians, the French, are feeling and expressing at this moment.

Notre Dame, stricken with flames bursting through its roof and spire, was witnessed in the first hours of Monday by hoards of shocked and speechless bystanders who, along with the millions watching the live broadcast throughout the world, were gripped with fear.

The first reaction was astonishment and disbelief at seeing the burning, without, during the first hour, any visible fire engines or hoses.

Is France punished, cursed, with either an Act of God or intentional evil act of man, for its infighting, complaining, lack of solidarity in its politics, social and political divisiveness?

And is the political system also to blame for its inability to prepare and mobilize modern sprinkler systems and fire hosing from the air and from boats on the River Seine? Has the mayor, Annie Hidalgo used her office to turn the city into a dirty polluted traffic jam by closing off major arteries to traffic, and has the president allowed the streets each week to be closed because of the country’s mobs of Yellow Vests, while neglecting to prepare for a national disaster? Was the fight against this monster fire as backward as the way the French army began fighting the First World War on horse back?

As time progressed spirits calmed.

A declaration in the first hours from one of the presiding priests gave a moving and deeply Christian interpretation to the tragedy — one I heard with my own ears.

He said: “I am not in rage or anger because the ways of the Lord are difficult to comprehend. What is happening in front of our eyes has incited the entire world to look to, and at Notre Dame and what it stands for. A few hours before the fire this proud mass of wood and stones, the Cathedral was standing alone and intact and would have left the world unmoved, blas√©, as if this majestic even heavenly beauty is ours for always."

The allusion to the suffering of Jesus, that Catholics take to be a message of peace and redemption, was evident.

This was an extraordinary moment because France has a history of separation of Church and State that goes well beyond what we have in the United States. The word God cannot be mentioned, even on euros where the trust is not on God but in government. The French Revolution made Church as much the enemy as the royalty.

Notre Dame however stood alone as an exception because by its place, size, beauty, and position in the middle of the Seine it reigns over the river, the city, as a monument to French history and French civilization.

Awestruck crowds amassed everywhere in the vicinity of the Cathedral, some offering prayers, and messages of support came from every corner of the globe, with only the message from Donald Trump offering advice on how the French should fight the fire.

The misgivings noted above turned to admiration that a brave and efficient fire department succeeded to navigate narrow medieval streets to bring brave and professional fire fighters to the Seine. Eyes were lifted toward the towers and spires with hope that by good fortune and finally good management the 500-degree inferno destroying the massive wooded beams and interior, the altar, and 115 foot high oak roof, could miraculously not bring down the stone structure.

The country drew a breath of relief and came together with no politician either blaming their adversaries or taking credit for averting the disaster of a fallen destroyed structure.

The president on behalf of the French people made a vow that the Cathedral would be restored within 5 years.

Major wealthy families began making major contributions in the hundreds of millions of euros to a fund to finance what will be a billion-euro enterprise.
Three days after, at exactly the same time, 6:50 p.m., that the fire was declared, church bells rang from every cathedral and church in France.

Although the bells of Notre Dame will be silent, they were saved, as were religious relics dating from as early as the 4th century.

The Lady that was theirs, has clearly become the Lady, the Dame, that has brought warmth and light to Paris, and has become Ours as well.

Let us hope that this moment of spirituality of evil turning to good, of disaster turning to hope, will be a moment of healing, that will have repercussions throughout French society.

In any case the destruction and hope of restoration is a moment that will mark the history of our time.

Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l’EDHEC. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
MarkLCohen
From a rooftop in Paris where the smoke and glimmer of fire clouded the evening sky just three days ago, these are thoughts that may provide some context, some understanding, of what Parisians, the French, are feeling and expressing at this moment.
paris, notre dame, fire
874
2019-28-18
Thursday, 18 April 2019 04:28 PM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved