French President Emmanuel Macron vowed in April 2019 that the 850-year-old Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, one of the most monumental and iconic manifestations of Europe’s now largely discarded Christian faith, would be built back better after being destroyed in a devastating fire. “The fire at Notre Dame reminds us that our history never stops and we will always have challenges to overcome,” Macron declared. “We will rebuild Notre Dame, more beautiful than before — and I want it done in the next five years. We can do it. After the time of testing comes a time of reflection and then of action.” As it turns out, by “more beautiful,” Macron meant “more woke.” The new Notre Dame cathedral, which is slated to open in 2024, will not be a monument to Christianity, but to Europe’s new faith of Leftism.
Macron directed in 2020 that the cathedral’s magnificent spire, which collapsed in the fire, would be rebuilt exactly as it had been before, after initially saying that it would be replaced with “a contemporary architectural gesture.” However, that fidelity to tradition will not go for the rest of the cathedral, and really, what did you expect? How could today’s woke France possibly produce a monument to the Christian faith that it no longer holds? And so, according to the UK’s Daily Mail, the cathedral is “being turned into a ‘woke theme park.’” This will involve the scrapping of confessional boxes, side altars, and sculptures, so as to make room for “trendy art murals, with sound and lighting effects creating ‘emotional spaces.’”
The new Notre Dame will also focus on the real threat to humanity: not the inclination to sin that is inside every human soul (that’s so twelfth century), but global warming, of course. The new and improved cathedral will feature a chapel dedicated to ‘reconciled creation’, referring to Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical which lamented environmental degradation and global warming.”
That’s not all. The new cathedral will also celebrate diversity and multiculturalism — how could it not do so? “A ‘discovery trail’ will lead visitors through various chapels, with an emphasis on Africa and Asia, and scripture will be beamed onto the walls in various languages, including Mandarin.…. Africa and Asia are given prominence, while Europe, the Americas and Oceania are tucked behind the apse or totally absent.”
Why the emphasis on Africa and Asia? I guarantee you it’s not to celebrate the brotherhood of man (sorry, the siblinghood of humankind). Why not emphasis on Europe itself, where the culture flourished of which Notre Dame was such a brilliant expression? Why, that would be “white supremacist,” and possibly even “Islamophobic.”
And so instead, according to Paris architect Maurice Culot, “It’s as if Disney were entering Notre-Dame. What they are proposing to do to Notre-Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or Saint Peter’s in Rome.” Don’t be too sure, Culot! In a similar vein, another opponent of the plans asked: “Can you imagine the administration of the Holy See allowing something like this in the Sistine Chapel?” Why, yes. Yes, I can. The same mindset that is giving us this ridiculous new Notre Dame cathedral is alive and well in the Vatican, so a Built Back Better Saint Peter’s Woke Basilica is not at all outside the realm of possibility.
Another critic of the new Notre Dame said that the new cathedral would be a “politically correct Disneyland.” Culot added: “It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place.” That stands to reason since contemporary European culture is childish and trivial compared to the culture that gave us the original Notre Dame cathedral.
Yet another traditionalist summed up the problem with Macron’s new show palace of wokeness: “This is political correctness gone mad. 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.”
Yes. But to rebuild the cathedral back exactly the way it was would require the faith that built it in the first place, and that is long gone from France and much of the rest of Europe as well. The new Notre Dame will stand as a monument to the new faith of a Europe that has lost a sense of itself and of its own purpose. Those who visit it will be introduced to the trivial concerns and hysterical propaganda of the early twenty-first century, and if they had any familiarity with the old cathedral, they’ll gain a new understanding of why France in the early twenty-first century was in such a state of decline. The new cathedral will sing of France’s loss of itself and of its nerve. But it probably won’t do so for the 850 years that the old cathedral stood.