World leaders have been reacting with horror to the devastating fire which has ravaged Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral and caused part of the 800-year-old beloved Gothic structure to collapse.
The building, one of the most important for Christians worldwide, and a major part of France’s cultural heritage, was heavily damaged by the quick-spreading fire on Monday. The fate of the iconic structure is hanging in the balance as firefighters have warned that they are “not sure” whether the fire can be contained.
The spire and roof of the landmark church have already crumbled after being engulfed in the flames, which quickly spread to one of the rectangular towers of the historic building as tourists and Parisians looked on in dismay.
US President Donald Trump, reacting on Twitter, said it was “horrible to watch” the church burn and suggested that “flying water tankers” could be used to put it out. First Lady Melania Trump also offered sympathies, saying her “heart breaks” for the people of France.
The fire is a “catastrophe” for France and all of Europe, the flames ravaging “850 years of history, architecture, painting and sculpture,” tweeted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted that her thoughts “are with the people of France” and the emergency services still fighting the “terrible blaze,” while German chancellor Angela Merkel said through a spokesperson that she was “deeply saddened” by the fire and was thinking of “our French friends.”
In a statement, the Vatican said the fire had caused “shock and sadness” and that it was praying for the firefighters. “We express our closeness to French Catholics and the population of Paris and we ensure them of our prayers,” Vatican spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pence also tweeted to say it was “heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames” and offered prayers for firefighters and the people of Paris, while former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said the cathedral was “a symbol of our ability as human beings to unite for a higher purpose.”
The blaze at the cathedral has caused a “great sorrow” within the Orthodox Church, spokesman of the Moscow Patriarchate, Hieromonk Stephan told RIA Novosti.
“It’s certainly a tragedy for all the Christians and everyone who values the cultural meaning of the cathedral,” he said. “Yet besides the cultural value, we must remember that the Crown of Thorns, the greatest relic for all Christians, is kept there. We pray that it will stay safe and that God won’t allow human deaths amid this terrible event.”
The cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed, but so far it is thought to be related to recently begun renovations on the structure which was in major need of repairs. Restoration following the fire could take at least ten years, a curators’ representative said.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!