Devastated Notre Dame Cathedral Risks “Disneyland” Restoration, Critics Warn

GodefroyParis, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Please pray for Notre Dame’s restoration process!

The UK’s Telegraph published an article on Nov. 26 revealing the possible interior restoration plans for Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral.

The French-Gothic cathedral is one of the most well-known churches in the world. It was more than 850 years old before the devastating fire on April 16, 2019.

The article explains that the exterior will be “rebuilt as faithfully as possible to the original designs.” The interior, however, may undergo many “modernist” changes.

Proposed Interior Restoration Plans

“Under the proposed changes, confessional boxes, altars and classical sculptures will be replaced with modern art murals, and new sound and light effects to create ’emotional spaces,'” the article says.

The article adds that “themed chapels” on a “discovery trail” will emphasize Africa and Asia. They will “project onto chapel walls” Bible verses “in various languages, including Mandarin.”

The cathedral’s plans also include a chapel with a “strong environmental emphasis,” reflecting the likes of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ encyclical.

Critics Warn of “Inappropriate Christian Theme Park”

Award-winning French architect Maurice Culot said “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. It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial, given the grandeur of the place,” he said.

“When you see the seriousness with which the cathedral is being restored using top craftsmen and first-rate materials, this seems totally inappropriate.”

Historian and Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley described the “modernist” interior cathedral changes as “unnecessary”.

“The chapels were relatively unharmed,” Stanley writes. “It was the exterior that suffered the worst fire damage in the blaze of 2019.”

Italian professor Maria Luisa Ceccarelli Lemut said “one should simply conduct restoration and not choose solutions that could alter the architectural layout or arbitrarily ‘modernize’ the edifice.”

However, the Archdiocese of Paris denied the “theme park” claims.

Fr. Gilles Drouin oversees the project and said the proposed plans “can better welcome and inform the public ‘who are not always from a Christian culture.'”

The archdiocese will present the plans to the National Heritage and Architecture Commission on Dec. 9.

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[See also: Rooftop Swimming Pool at Notre Dame? Here’s 6 Bizarre Renovation Proposals]

[See also: Will Notre Dame’s Fire Convert People to Catholicism? One Man’s Powerful Story]

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Jacqueline Burkepile is the editor for the English edition of ChurchPOP. She is a journalist, former university campus minister, and a wife and mother. You can follow her posts on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.