The Cathedral Controversy – Where Should the Money Go?
By Amelia Killackey
On April 15th, the world watched helplessly as one of the most significant cultural and religious landmarks went up in flames. Notre Dame, a Catholic cathedral located in France, was constructed over 850 years ago and is now regarded as one of the wonders world. Although significant damage has been done, French President Emmanual Macron declared that the church will be restored in five years.
It is because Notre Dame is such an iconic symbol of France that people across the globe were deeply impacted by its destruction. As a result, many of these people have donated large sums of money to help restore the cathedral. But others believe that the billion dollars raised is going to the wrong place.
Currently, France is going through economic trouble and critics are arguing that the billion dollars raised should be directed towards helping the country’s wealth inequality. Others argue that giving money to an inanimate building should not be prioritized over helping living, struggling people. Others argue that preserving the history of Notre Dame is essential. While people recognize the benefits of giving money to restore history, there is still the question of why the multi-millionaires of France are not giving money to the people in need in their own country.
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmental activist delivered an emotional, yet logical speech after Notre Dame burned in front of the European Parliament. She said that “Notre Dame will be rebuilt. I hope that its foundations are strong. I hope that our foundations are even stronger, but I fear they are not.” Thunburg referenced people’s immediate reaction and help towards rebuilding Notre Dame in contrast to the virtually non-existent reaction on a global scale to the ever-present crisis of climate change. In approximately less in than 11 years, we will have had crossed the threshold and begin an irrevocable chain-reaction that will change the earth as we know it. Greta questions why we aren’t treating the world as if it were a burning cathedral and she demands action.
Although Notre Dame is a revered religious monument, many people believe that the sheer amount of money given to the cause of rebuilding the cathedral could have been put to better use. Critics believe that the world needs to wake up because there are more urgent issues that need to be addressed before we repair a mere building. The world has witnessed its strength in unity after raising an extraordinary sum in a matter of days, so, when are we going to prioritize a healthy planet with economic parity for its citizens and band together to accomplish it?