Controversy keeps the Notre Dame fire in the news

Jennifer Ackerman, Staff Writer

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 On Apr. 15, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was burned by an accidental fire.  Although the event occured weeks ago, it remains in the news because of controversy over reconstruction of the building.

  In the fire, the spire and roof collapsed, but the main structure was saved.  Since the tragic event, billions of dollars have been raised to restore the building back to its original state.  

  The New York Times reported that numerous wealthy individuals, including Europe’s wealthiest man, have donated hundreds of millions of dollars each to the cause.  Other smaller donations have also come in from around the world.

  Although some might view this as generous acts of philanthropy, others disagree.  Some people say that such large sums of money should not be spent on a building, but should be given to “more worthy” causes such as aiding the poor.  

  Many believe that those who donated large amounts money to the Notre Dame repairs did so only to improve their image.  Furthermore, some say there is no reason to mourn the loss of the building, as nobody was severely injured.

  More conflict arises from the argument that the building is a religious place of worship, and therefore only has significance to Catholics.

  Supporters of the Notre Dame cathedral repairs argue that the building has significance to everyone as an inspirational work of art, regardless of an individual’s religion.

  Lakeview art teacher Sharada Sharp explained that although she understands both sides of the issue, she personally is in favor of rebuilding the cathedral.

  “Notre Dame is such an iconic building, and there is so much, not just art, but history and religion.  It’s such an important part of France and world architecture that I do think it was important to help reconstruct it,” Sharp stated.

  Indeed, the 850-year-old cathedral certainly does hold historical significance.  Not only is it considered a masterpiece in itself, but it also houses many valuable pieces of artwork.  The French have long revered it as a national symbol.

  Lakeview history teacher Nicole Rakozy explained why the damage to Notre Dame was tragic regardless of its religious affiliation.  She said that the building’s value lies not just in its ties to Catholicism, but in the devotion and beauty that went into it.

  “Notre Dame Cathedral is a piece of history.  It’s a piece of passion, and it’s tragic what happened to it,” she expressed.

  Rakozy stated her personal belief that the intense opposition towards the donations has gotten out of hand.

  She elaborated, “I think the reality is people have a right to raise money for whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt other people.  It’s their money.”

  Sharp also acknowledged the accusation that money going towards Notre Dame should instead be given to the poor.  She explained her belief that although helping the poor is certainly important, it comes with complications.

  For example, there is the difficult decision of choosing who to aid first.  In addition, it can sometimes be difficult to assure that donations intended for the poor actually end up going to needy people.

  Sharp admitted that she did purchase three necklaces made with stained glass from Notre Dame cathedral.  A portion of the proceeds go toward the reconstruction project.

  She expressed, “When you give money, you never knew where it’s going to.  I know this for sure is going to help rebuild that. You see your money in use.”

  Regardless of one’s viewpoint, the burning of Notre Dame cathedral was an event that will go down in history.  

  Sharp ended, “I’ve seen Notre Dame in person.  It’s really beautiful and it did really upset me that it burned.”

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