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Confessionals out, video installation in: Diocese of Paris wants to transform Notre-Dame

Paris - In the future, a video installation will be shown in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris instead of the side chapels. The diocese of the French capital announced on Thursday during the presentation of the reconstruction concept of the church that burned down in 2019. The clergyman commissioned with the project, Gilles Drouin, described the idea behind the work as an “aesthetic and catechetical journey”, according to the French news portal La Croix.

For example, there are plans to redesign the centuries-old side chapels and to enrich them with a so-called “catechesis course”. Confessionals that are not in use should also disappear from the church.

In April 2019, large parts of the cathedral were destroyed in a fire. Millions of people had donated money for the restoration of the heavily damaged structure. This resulted in almost a billion euros.

German construction worker pleased about the removal of confessionals
The head of German reconstruction aid, Barbara Schock-Werner, was delighted with the initiative of the diocese of Paris to redesign. “Attentive visitors to Notre-Dame have already noticed in recent years that the side chapels have been neglected and they have no longer contributed to the dignity or ecclesiastical aura. That's why I think it's right to think about how you can use these side chapels,” she emphasized on Thursday according to the church news portal She also considers the removal of unused confessionals from the cathedral to be a good cause.

Artists and scientists warn against “distortion” of the cathedral
On Wednesday 100 artists, scientists and journalists had advertised in the French daily Le Figaro for a faithful reconstruction of the world-famous church. “The Diocese of Paris really wants to use the restoration work to transform the interior of Notre-Dame into a project that will completely distort its decoration and liturgical space,” they warned.

The diocese seems to think that the destruction caused by the fire is an opportunity to change the understanding of the entire structure. The fire was limited to the roof and spire and almost nothing of the cultural heritage inside the cathedral was destroyed. The philosopher Alain Finkielkraut and the historian Pierre Nora were among the signatories of the open letter. For weeks now, critics of a church redesign have been warning of a “politically correct Disneyland”.

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