Andrew Neil covered the tragedy of Notre Dame better than pretty well any other news medium. Neil grasped the historical significance and blended in the tragedy all at once. His was a twitter masterclass. You do not need to believe in God to feel sadness at what happened last night One of Neil’s tweets summed it all up for me:
“Among loss after loss in the Notre Dame fire, the wood-timber roof, which has survived since 12/13th centuries, is the greatest loss. Medieval craftsmen built it using 5,000 oak trees. It lasted til tonight.”
Of course, Notre Dame must be rebuilt and President Macron, who reminded us last night what it is like to have an effective political leader, said as much. It will take many years to achieve but it has to be done.
I expect people and governments from all over the world will wish to contribute to the renovation project. That’s good. Given the state of our world, there should always be a place for unique and wonderful art. One organisation should be in a position to help more than any other.
The Vatican is believed to worth around $15 billion. If the Catholic Church cannot persuade God, who was strangely absent yesterday, to put the Notre Dame back together again, then they surely have all kinds of obligations to make substantial contributions to its rebuilding.
I don’t ‘do’ God but I do ‘do’ historical buildings. And if we don’t respect the past, there is no worthwhile future for any of us.