Catholic church’s proposed redesign of Notre Dame interior provokes outrage

Will the fireplace-ravaged interior of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris be more like Disneyland than France’s most emblematic place of worship when it reopens immediately after a significant restoration? So panic the outraged critics of a new interior style and design for the monument—planned by Catholic church officials—which was introduced throughout a movie convention previously this yr.

Although the challenge has not been formally announced, Father Gilles Drouin presented an overview throughout an on the web conference in May possibly for the general secretariat of Catholic education in France, which has been posted on YouTube. Final Friday, the British conservative newspaper The Telegraph denounced the reimagined Notre Dame as a “politically accurate Disneyland” and an “experimental showroom”.

Father Drouin, the director of the liturgical institute of Paris, explained during the presentation that he was chosen two a long time in the past by the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, to “revamp the inner space” of the cathedral. He proposes a seem-and-light-weight path together the aspect chapels, providing a “fruitful dialogue with contemporary art”. He programs to replace “the straw chairs, which occupy 80% of the space” with luminous “mobile benches”. Most of these could be taken out in the course of weekdays to depart much more place for site visitors. Altars in the chapels would also be displaced and only four confessionals taken care of on the ground floor.

Drouin described that Notre Dame “was not adapted to cope with large numbers of tourists”, which rose to 12 million before the cathedral was devastated by fire in 2019. Website visitors “come for diverse motives, most of them from non-Christian or submit-Christian cultures”. So the chapels, some of which could be renamed following Asia, Africa and other themes, ought to screen “multiple offerings” this sort of as light projections of Bible rates in overseas languages which includes Chinese. Drouin confirmed models showcasing a stained-glass window and a chapel wall included in a contemporary abstract portray of clouds.

“It’s Notre Dame de Paris turned into Disneyland,” claims the Paris-dependent architect Maurice Culot, the writer of many books on religious architecture in the 19th century. “It does not make any perception,” he tells The Art Newspaper. “We are rebuilding the cathedral and the spire as it was, with historic resources like stone, wood and guide, and now we’ll have a concept park for international travelers inside of. Why wasn’t the style and design entrusted to the same architects to preserve unity amongst the within and outdoors of the creating?” Pointing out that churches and cathedrals are owned by the point out in France, he asks: “How could a priest pick out, on his have, the interior decoration of a cathedral that belongs to the common heritage of humanity and is staying rebuilt with donations coming from all around the globe?”

Culot’s concerns are shared by the French architectural historian Alexandre Gady, the writer of a book on the historical past of Notre Dame. “Obviously the job lacks breadth and depth,” Gady says. Even so, he is far more fearful for the destiny of the cathedral’s forecourt, which is owned by the town, and deplores the prepared transformation of the nearby historic hospital, Hôtel Dieu, into a buying centre.

Father Drouin’s proposed inside redesign of Notre Dame will be submitted to France’s national cultural heritage fee on 9 December and the culture minister, Roselyne Bachelot, could have the ultimate say on issues like the removal of the historic stained glass. But Culot argues that the authorities “has presently authorised a compromise by leaving the Church the initiative for the inside of the cathedral”.

Father Drouin has denied the proposed overhaul of Notre Dame is radical. “For 8 hundreds of years, Notre Dame de Paris has been through continual evolution and the Church intends to renew the tradition of commissions to residing artists,” he says. In an job interview this week with AFP, the French news agency, he defended the programs to welcome readers “who are not normally from a Christian culture”, including that Notre Dame noticed a lot more people from China lit candles in a chapel focused to a Chinese martyr soon after explanatory texts in Mandarin were being mounted.

In the meantime, Jean-Louis Georgelin, the army normal who sales opportunities the particular agency in charge of Notre Dame’s reconstruction, is functioning towards the clock to honour the determination created by President Emmanuel Macron to reopen the monument ahead of the 2024 Olympic Video games in Paris. Experts already acknowledge that the works will not be completed and the spire will not be rebuilt by then, but Georgelin has promised to keep a Te Deum service in the cathedral on 16 April 2024, marking the fifth anniversary of the catastrophic hearth. He could unquestionably do with out a controversy that could even further hold off the restoration.

The latest discussion comes a 7 days soon after the Paris archbishop offered his resignation to the Pope right after push promises that he had an affair with a woman in 2012. Michel Aupetit, who has been reportedly criticised for his authoritarian management model, acknowledged an “ambiguous” romance but explained it was platonic.