'A catastrophe for Christianity. Now the Church must overcome divisions'

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'A catastrophe for Christianity. Now the Church must overcome divisions'

By Domenico Agasso/ lastampa.it

“It is a catastrophe for Christianity and for the faithful throughout the world. It shakes us hard. And it calls us to put aside the divisions that are afflicting the Church”. French Cardinal Paul Joseph Jean Poupard, historian of religions, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is desperate. A leading figure in the Roman Curia. "I can't get my eyes off the distressing scenes on TV", says the 88 year old Cardinal from his Vatican home. "I feel annihilated by those flames that are tearing Paris and destroying the spiritual heart of the whole country". The "devastating" fire in Notre-Dame Cathedral "seems to me a scene from a movie, it's incredible. I can't believe it" he insists.

Then he underlines: "It is a huge drama not limited to France and the French; it is for the whole planet". It's not a collapse of "walls and stones: a "fundamental pillar" of culture and history, the history of humanity, of all countries, from Europe to America, has come down".

Personal memories of his time in the capital of France come to Poupard’s mind: "I was rector of the Catholic Institute, a post I held for ten years. I have been to Notre Dame many times, I have given lectures and participated in conferences". In my mind "and in my heart the images of those moments are flowing whirling inside of me. And of the thousands of faithful, pilgrims and tourists who every day admired Notre Dame with open mouth".

But Poupard, as a man of faith, also wants to think about the future. Immediately. "Precisely at this very difficult and troubled moment in history for the universal Church, the tragedy of Notre Dame, the symbol of Christianity, must unite us. It must bring all Christians together in harmony". Because the flames of Paris are "something that goes beyond our divisions. It must be so".

Thinking of the faithful, Poupard suggests: this perhaps irreparable incident, whatever the cause, "must also make us think of our earthly existence, reminding us that it is precarious, fragile, unpredictable. And it must teach us that life must be lived by putting the essential things at the center". Beginning with "fraternity". And a sign that the Cardinal does not underestimate is the "immediate solidarity that is coming to Paris from many countries and from ordinary people": the feeling "of union that one breathes will certainly help to face this terrible moment, its depressing damage, and to rise again from this ruinous fall"

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 16:20
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