Notre-Dame interior restoration plan sparks fiery debate

Notre-Dame interior restoration

Leaked information about the interior restoration proposed for the fire-damaged Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris has sparked controversy, with some fearing the proposals would turn the site into “a kind of theme park.”

The Archdiocese of Paris will soon present its design to France’s National Commission on Heritage and Architecture (CNPA) to restore the interior of the building damaged in the fire on the evening of April 15, 2019.

The Daily Telegraph English newspaper reported on Nov 26 that critics feared the changes would turn the building into a “politically correct Disneyland.”

The article said that “confessional boxes, altars, and classical sculptures will be replaced with modern art murals, and new sound and light effects to create ‘emotional spaces.’”

“There will be themed chapels on a ‘discovery trail,’ with an emphasis on Africa and Asia. Quotes from the Bible will be projected onto chapel walls in various languages, including Mandarin,” it added.

Maurice Culot, an architect who has seen the plans, told the newspaper: “It’s as if Disney were entering Notre-Dame.”

The man in charge of the project is Gilles Drouin, a priest of the Diocese of Évry, he is also director of the Higher Institute of Liturgy at the Catholic University of Paris.

Fr Drouin was asked to improve the way tourists are accommodated and provide a more effective means of showcasing the cathedral’s works of art. Both are issues that predate the blaze.

Drouin developed options in tandem, careful to consider both the pastoral and patrimonial aspects.

The project took shape with the help of architects, lighting and sound specialists, stage designers and artists. Then the various options were submitted to heritage professionals.

“Each step was validated by Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris,” Father Drouin explains.

Catholics of Paris have raised concerns and demanded the archdiocese do a better job informing the public about the stages of the restoration project.

They called for more open discussion and urged planners to act with the “greatest humility” dealing with a work meant for the ages.

Drouin has readily acknowledged the criticism. But he says that earlier proposals that are now completely obsolete are still in circulation, which may fuel fears.

The cathedral will reportedly reopen for worship with a Te Deum on April 16, 2024, five years after the blaze.


La Croix International

Catholic News Agency


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