Vatican Corner 05-05-2019

con nued … Investigators so far believe that the terrible fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was an accident and not intentionally set. About 50 investigators are questioning people, including restoration workers, and are searching the charred ruins for evidence, as well as reviewing the security camera recordings. A Paris police official told the press that an electrical short circuit was most likely the cause. One Paris newspaper suggested a computer glitch or the temporary elevators used in the restoration work as possible fire causes. The police said “all leads must be explored.” The company that had put up the 200 tons of scaffolding around the Cathedral spire for the restoration work said they were not responsible for the fire. A spokesperson said the police confirmed that there were no heat sources on the scaffolding and no soldering work. The Cathedral was going through a renovation to repair centuries of decay, pollution, and the flow of 13 million visitors annually. Patrick Chauvet the Cathedral’s rector is requesting that a temporary wooden structure be built in front of Notre-Dame to act as a substitute while the Cathedral is closed to the public for its probable five-or-so years of repair. Experts are planning to spread a custom-made peaked tarpaulin across the top of the Cathedral with enough space to shield workers when they are rebuilding the roof. A competition was announced for the design of a replacement spire, and a more modern design could be a possibility. Even before the smoke had cleared, very wealthy donors pledged more than $1 billion to restore the Cathedral to its former glory. The cost of the restoration is unknown at this time but the amount of money pledged seems much more than adequate. The ease at which money is being raised has caused unease for some. France is going through rounds of protest over social inequality with some protests turning violent. Sixty-thousand police officers were recently mobilized throughout the country and demonstrations have been banned near Notre Dame, expecting violence. The perceived disparity between the concern for the fate of beautiful monuments and the lack of concern for the struggles of real people has angered many. The Cathedral has three hives of honey bees, each with about 60,000 bees living in wooden boxes on the roof about 100 feet below the main roof that burned. The beekeeper Nicolas Geant announce that the hives seemed to be intact but the fear was that the high temperatures could have melted the wax and glued the bees together killing them. But a few days later he confirmed from pictures that the insects were alive and flying in and out of their hives. The boxes likely filled with smoke during the fire, but because they don’t have lungs, smoke is not as dangerous to bees as to humans. Access to the hives will take some time, so until then it won’t be known if all the bees survived. The Vatican’s President of the Pontifical Council for Cultural – Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi offered the technical expertise from the Vatican’s Museums to help rebuild Notre Dame. He told reporters that the Holy See could take part in some specific area of reconstruction. “We have the type of know-how that the world recognizes as being of high quality,” he said. “So I think an eventual future offer by the Holy See will be significant.”