The Burning of the Notre Dame – Disaster or Messenger of Truth?

In light of the recent fire that devastated the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019, there were many things that occurred in response to this event that felt very disturbing to me and highlight both the current and historical hypocrisies that exist in our business and geopolitical landscapes.

Soon after the blaze was extinguished and the damage was assessed, there was a groundswell of support to fund the rebuilding of the structure after the French president Emmanuel Macron promised to rebuild the structure within the next five years.

“Major donations kicked off the evening of the fire, with French billionaires (and often competitors) Francois Pinault and Bernard Arnault pledging €100 million and €200 million, respectively. Over the next few days, companies like L’Oreal, Société Générale, and JCDecaux all made multi-million dollar pledges” the New York Times reported, “bringing the total donations up to €850 million, or about $995 million. That was all before American companies like Apple chipped in, bringing the total donations to more than $1 billion.” (1)

Archpriest Nikolai V. Balashov, the vice chairman of the department of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, called the fire “a huge tragedy for the whole Christian world,” and said that Russians value “these wonders of the old God’s world, these remnants of holy wonders.” (2)

On face value these reactions to the partial destruction of the Notre Dame cathedral may seem noble and well-intentioned. But considering the current state of affairs in the world, with massive amounts of illness/disease, poverty, drug-abuse, homelessness, famine, domestic abuse, and war-savaged countries, wouldn’t the $1 billion raised be better spent on these types of social issues that are prevalent in France and around the world?

It is very telling that we can raise $1 billion dollars virtually overnight to fix a building but can turn a blind eye to the many challenges that real human beings are experiencing. Thousands of people lined the streets of Paris and the Seine river to mourn the destruction of the Notre Dame cathedral (once again, a building, not a person) while in their own country the rates of the above social issues continue to rise. Where is the public out cry to fundraise for these problems?

The fact that $1 billion can be raised in such a short time shows that there exists no shortage of funds and resources to help alleviate many of our world’s problems, only a lack of will to make a difference and a misappropriation of these funds to either further one’s own self-centred business value or influence political landscapes that provide a more lucrative business environment through campaign contributions (aka  political bribes).

And on that note, another very telling fact is that Pope Francis himself, the global leader of the Catholic church, is not contributing one cent to the restoration of the burned cathedral of Notre Dame, which has been a major landmark symbolising the Catholic church for 860 years. The pope stated after the fire in words sent to the Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris:

“Following the fire that ravaged a large part of Notre Dame Cathedral, I join you in your sorrow, as well as that of the faithful of your diocese, the inhabitants of Paris, and all the French people.” (3)

Instead of money, he only offered his prayers to the inhabitants of France and those mourning the partial loss of the structure at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Most estimates of the current net wealth of the Vatican alone place it between $10 -15 billion, but the total wealth of the Catholic Church worldwide, with all its real estate holdings (that combined are as large as the Canadian province of Alberta), investments in virtually every aspect of business and finance, and all its parishes across the globe is almost impossible to determine due to the secrecy and lack of accountability of religious organisations, but it has been stated by a nationally syndicated Catholic priest that:

The Catholic church, he said, must be the biggest corporation in the United States. We have a branch office in every neighborhood. Our assets and real estate holdings must exceed those of Standard Oil, A.T.&T., and U.S. Steel combined. And our roster of dues-paying members must be second only to the tax rolls of the United States Government.” To add to this statement another financial analyst noted; “But this is just a small portion of the wealth of the Vatican, which in the U.S. alone is greater than that of the five wealthiest giant corporations of the country. When to that is added all the real estate, property, stocks and shares abroad, then the staggering accumulation of the wealth of the Catholic church becomes so formidable as to defy any rational assessment.” (4)

Let’s not forget that the Catholic Church does not pay any taxes, including capital gains and property taxes, and all the donations that go to them are tax free. These tax savings amount to several billion dollars a year. With the facts stated above, and this is only scratching the surface of the total wealth of the Catholic Church, the fact that the Pope has not offered one cent to the reconstruction of the Notre Dame cathedral is an act of greed almost beyond any scale that could be imagined and exposes the corruption that has fuelled this religious organisation since its inception.

Another graphic display of this corruption displayed by the Catholic Church can be found when in 2012 The Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, Canada sold 250 properties and liquidated its assets to pay a $15-million settlement for sexual abuse involving clergy Rev. Raymond Lahey.

“… the bishop [Rev Raymond Lahey] who brokered the multimillion-dollar sex-abuse settlement deal, was then sentenced to 15 months in custody after he was charged with the possession of child pornography. Phyllis MacDonald, a member of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Port Hood, Nova Scotia stated, “Now we have to raise money to keep above ground, to keep our parishes going, to pay for heat in the church.” Ms. MacDonald said the settlement, which has forced cash-strapped parishes to give nearly all their reserves to the diocese, should be paid by the top level of the church hierarchy, the Vatican. “They came like thieves in the night to take our money and they took it away without even blinking an eye,” Ms. Samson, a former Catholic nun and active member of her parish in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia said. “It’s a shame. It’s our parents that worked to place [the churches] there and our grandparents, and they don’t care. They just have to sell them.” But the church said there is no alternative source. “We have no indication that the Vatican sees or is able to do something,” said Rev. Paul Abbass, a spokesman for the Diocese of Antigonish based in New Glasgow, on the eastern mainland.”(5)

This seems like the Vatican is punishing the people that comprise these local Catholic parishes by making them pay for a massive child sex abuse settlement when they could easily cover the cost for a case like this that involves one of their own employees. It also sends a message to the local people as a deterrent for others to speak up, lest they all have to pay out of their own pockets for something like this in the future.

Finally, to glorify the structure that is the Notre Dame cathedral, is to glorify all that it represents. And that is, that the Catholic Church, who are responsible for its construction, built it at a time in history when anyone and everyone who challenged their rule and religious doctrine were literally crushed. Any high school history class will expose this as the truth as it played out in the French Inquisition against any group they deemed heretical, namely the Cathars and Waldensians, and during the many Crusades against Muslims in the Middle East, all led by the Roman Catholic Church, where these groups were both tortured and killed in a genocide that rivals those committed during WW II by Hitler and Stalin.

When we respond to these events I feel it is important to consider the whole picture and exactly what type of organisation we are providing support for, especially when considering monetary donations. And in the case of the Notre Dame cathedral after the current fire that partially destroyed it, let’s allow the richest organisation in the world to pay for its own building’s restoration and consider that this fire may have been a karmic sign of all that the Catholic Church has been responsible for during its history of torture, war, child sexual abuse, slavery, and financial corruption. Because when we support a project and an organisation like this in any way, we are by default condoning the very deleterious behaviour that we would never want to have in our society.

By Michael Goodhart, Aircraft Technician, B.A. Psychology, Lover of Nature and being playful with life, North Carolina, USA

References:

  1. House Beautiful. (2019).Notre Dame’s Rebuild Has Already Raised $1 Billion—and Stirred up Controversy. [online] Available at: https://www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/a27207274/notre-dame-rebuild-1-billion/ [Accessed 29 Apr. 2019].
  2. com. (2019).Fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral Leads to Expressions of Heartbreak Across the World. [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/world/europe/paris-cathedral-fire.html [Accessed 29 Apr. 2019].
  3. (2019).Pope says he joins sadness of Catholics, Paris and all the French. [online] Available at: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2019/04/16/pope-says-he-joins-sadness-of-catholics-paris-and-all-the-french/ [Accessed 29 Apr. 2019].
  4. Earth, T. (2019).The Catholic Church is the Biggest Financial Power on Earth. [online] Humansarefree.com. Available at: http://humansarefree.com/2012/03/christian-church-is-biggest-financial.html [Accessed 29 Apr. 2019].
  5. The Globe and Mail. (2019).Nova Scotia churches balk at paying for the sins of the fathers. [online] Available at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/nova-scotia-churches-balk-at-paying-for-the-sins-of-the-fathers/article1357727/ [Accessed 29 Apr. 2019].

Further Reading:
Our Charities: How Charitable Are They?
Charities exposed for Cold-calling: What is True Charity?
Aid, Corruption, Abuse and War – closer to you than you might think?

115 thoughts on “The Burning of the Notre Dame – Disaster or Messenger of Truth?

  1. Exposing the obvious is something that has been hidden and suppressed for way to long. Now that the obvious is exposed, that which has been hidden and suppressed cannot but begin to leak out and show to the world the corruption that we all have been a party to. Something that we can say we weren’t aware of or didn’t know, but the truth is we always know. The caliber of a person in years to come will be seen and felt in the way one upholds the truth we each innately know, or how one constantly hides and bludgeons what we have already felt and know to be an absolute truth.

  2. The more one digs, the more one sees how deeply corrupted our society is. But what’s more disturbing is that all of this is in the public eye, easily researched, with concerns regarding this being raised for centuries by many, but it still remains the same, because we, humanity, have been okay with it. However, in truth, these ‘bodies’ hold no power, for the walls of the corrupt always come crumbling down, as ironically witnessed by the fire of Notre Dame and the exposé of the many child sexual abuse cases – this is only the beginning. Hold onto your hats folks, we are in for a rocky but refreshing ride as there is still more to come; the false rule has been exposed and in its place, Truth will uprise.

  3. There is the money and the capability to solve all our issues in the world. However if we only focus on our little world individually there is no care for whats going on around us. Playing victim is also a way of focusing on ones own little world. Addressing our need to be an individual is a start to ending this separation.

  4. ‘It is very telling that we can raise $1 billion dollars virtually overnight to fix a building but can turn a blind eye to the many challenges that real human beings are experiencing.’ It is quite uncomfortable to have our boat rocked and quite uncomfortable to admit that we are in comfort when the plight of others is reflected back to us. Is it that we just find it easier to support a cause that isn’t related directly to poverty, hunger, illness and disease, war and people displacement etc., so that we don’t have to connect to and deal with the very real struggle and pain of others so as to avoid feeling our own hurts?

  5. It is really amazing to review everything that we are aligned to, part, members, supporters and/or customers of and realise that we are responsible for the imprint of all of these in life. Two things: it wakes me up to my responsibility and also stops me feeling like one person cannot make a difference.

  6. Jesus was born in the humblest environment and his inner wealth was out of this world. Catholic church has tried for centuries to represent him, but what has done is indeed far away from what he truly lived. I would say, the exact opposite. The facts talk by themselves

  7. Everything is said in that final paragraph. The choice/responsibility we have to bring our awareness to all our activities and what we are supporting and condoning. The burning of Notre Dame is an amazing opportunity to step back and review what we have allowed and/or aligned to.

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