The fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, which began on Monday night, has had one beneficial effect – it has united France after months of yellow vest demonstrations and riots. This may only be temporary.
Long term, there may be other long lasting effects.
Prior to the conflagration, just one day earlier, a fascinating article appeared on the Gatestone website: “European churches: Vandalized, defecated on and torched “every day”.” In fact, twice a day churches are desecrated, just in France.
- “In virtually every instance of church attacks, authorities and media obfuscate the identity of the vandals. In those rare instances when the Muslim (or “migrant”) identity of the destroyers is leaked, the desecraters are then presented as suffering from mental health issues.
- “Hardly anyone writes and speaks about the increasing attacks on Christian symbols. There is an eloquent silence in both France and Germany about the scandal of the desecrations and the origin of the perpetrators , , , Not a word, not even the slightest hint that could in anyway lead to the suspicion of migrants . . . It is not the perpetrators who are in danger of being ostracized, but those who dare to associate the desecration of Christian symbols with immigrant imports. They are accused of hatred, hate speech and racism.” — PI News, March 24, 2019
(Gatestone, April 14th.)
All Christians should be very concerned about these attacks. Many may not like these ancient churches, full of idols that defy the second commandment (Ex.20:4), but attacks on them reflect a growing intolerance to all forms of Christianity. While the loss of relics (the crown of thorns worn by Christ at the crucifixion; and a piece of the actual cross on which He died), may not mean anything to non-Catholics, the world’s biggest religion attaches a great deal of importance to them. David Muir, of ABC News and a Catholic, described these relics as if they are real, beyond question. This is the way that many feel.
It is not known, yet, whether the fire was started deliberately, but after two attacks on French churches a day it seems quite likely. Also, the timing is indicative of a deliberate attack, coming on the second day of Holy Week, the most sacred week of the year in the Catholic calendar.
We can only speculate on what caused the fire, but what is known is that jihadists, worldwide, celebrated when news of the fire reached them.
“Jihadis celebrated the destruction of large parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in a devastating fire on April 15, 2019. Reactions by jihadis on social media refer to the cathedral as a symbol of Christianity and a major point of origin for the Crusades. Several describe the fire as punishment for various crimes attributed to France or to Christians in general, such as France’s military intervention in Muslim countries or the mosque massacres in New Zealand. Some jihadis, including leading figures, view the incident as a good omen heralding calamities for the West and the global order.” (MEMRI, 4/16)
At the very least, the presence of millions of Muslims in the West is complicating National security. One day after the fire, Shemima Begum, an ISIS fighter originally from Britain, was granted tax-payer funded legal aid to fight the British government’s ban on her returning. With so many anti-British “liberals” in England, it is becoming impossible to do anything about these security threats.
It’s likely that Shemima will return to the UK and live off British welfare while espousing her hatred and contempt for all things British! She remains loyal to ISIS.
COULD THE FIRE REVIVE THE CHURCH?
Rachel Donadio, a Paris based staff writer for the Atlantic, writes:
“Commentators were seeing the fire as a symbol of how the Catholic Church needs to be restored as an institution as much as a building. Like so many of Europe’s great churches and places of pilgrimage, Notre-Dame is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This is the Church as mother and protector, an aspect the institution has not excelled at in the years since the sexual-abuse crisis erupted.
“It’s hard to convey just how significant Notre Dame is for France. Listening to the newscasters wrestle with their formulations about the crown of thorns, it became clear that the devastation of the cathedral had laid bare all the paradoxes of the country. Here is a secular republic, dedicated to the principle of laïcité, or the absence of religion in public life, that has as its national symbol a cathedral. Here is a country that deposed its king in a revolution, yet now sees its embattled president as a new monarch—one that some of its “yellow vest” protesters want to depose again.” (“France’s Paradoxes, embodied in a cathedral”, 4/16.)
Mr. Macron, France’s president, has pledged to rebuild the cathedral within five years, in time for Paris to host the 2024 Olympics.
EU-US TRADE WAR
Brussels has warned that US products from hazelnuts to tractors could face punitive tariffs in retaliation for state support to Boeing, as Washington and Brussels gear up for the next stage of their long-running transatlantic dispute over aircraft subsidies. The European Commission on Wednesday published a draft list of products that could be targeted for additional duties. The move follows a victory for the EU at the World Trade Organization, which ruled last month that Washington had failed to end an illegal tax break to Boeing. The list’s publication comes only days after the US announced similar plans to target up to $11bn of EU products in response to WTO rulings against subsidies for Airbus. (“Brussels sets out 420 billion list of US goods facing tariffs; http://www.ft.com, 4/17)
Former Peruvian president Alan García shot himself dead on Wednesday after police arrived at his house to arrest him as part of a corruption investigation. The government said that when officers arrived at his home, García withdrew to a closed room to phone his lawyer. They heard a gunshot minutes later, broke down the door and found the former president with a wound to the head. They rushed him to hospital where he underwent surgery. He died a few hours later. President Martin Vizcarra confirmed the news on Twitter, sending his condolences to García’s family and loved ones. (Financial Times, 4/17)
GERMANY BRINGS BREXIT TO A CLOSE
Germany’s foreign minister has warned London that there will be no Brexit extension beyond October, sending out the strongest signal yet that Berlin’s patience with the UK’s deadlocked political system is starting to wear out. “They will have to decide what they want by October,” Heiko Maas told the Financial Times in an interview. “You cannot drag out Brexit for a decade.” (Tobias Buck, Financial Times, 4/17)
PELOSI DICTATES ON BREXIT
LONDON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation to Britain and Ireland this week. What’s being discussed? “Brexit, Brexit, Brexit,” she said.
In the old days, bilateral U.S.-U.K. talks would be all about counterterrorism, intelligence sharing, NATO, Russia and China – and the special relationship.
Today, Brexit dominates. And on one particular point, Pelosi is emphatic: Don’t mess with the Irish peace accord.
The speaker said Tuesday that she had warned Prime Minister Theresa May, Conservative pro-Brexit hard-liners and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that if the churn of Britain’s messy break with the European Union in any way weakens the Northern Ireland peace pact known as the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, the U.S. Congress will block any trade deals Britain might seek with the United States.
“Don’t even think about that,” Pelosi said she had warned. “We made it clear to all that if there were any harm to Good Friday accords, no treaty.”
Pelosi did not have to remind her hosts that the Trump administration can negotiate treaties and trade deals. But she emphasized that Congress has to approve them. (William Booth, Washington Post, 4/16).
Mrs Pelosi is a Catholic, and is siding with the Irish Republic on this issue.
WHAT’S THAT NOISE?
Sunday morning, while listening to a CD of Rachmaninov, our seven-year-old grandson looked up from his train and asked: “What’s that noise?” He clearly is not a fan.