'The church, which is the people, still remains': Catholic leaders in London react to Notre Dame fire

Officials with the Diocese of London say the “scope of loss is beyond comprehension” after a fire that tore through the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.

More than 400 firemen were needed to tame the inferno, which consumed the roof and collapsed the spire of the eight-centuries-old cathedral. Firefighters doused the last of the flames overnight, bringing the blaze under control some 14 hours after it began.


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“The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is one of the most beautiful and significant buildings on earth, as well as one of the most famous churches of all time,” officials with the local diocese said in a statement.

“Our hearts and minds are with the members of the faith-community… only days away from Good Friday and Easter, we are reminded that pain and destruction, in time, will be replaced by love and hope.”

Father Jim Mockler, the Rector at St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica in London, Ont., says the building’s congregation will live on — even if its physical structure is damaged.

“People who are parishioners of Notre Dame Cathedral will still gather this week, and they’ll pray, and they’ll reflect, and they’ll become aware of what this week is all about. The church, which is the people, still remains. And that’s the most important thing,” he said.


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But it was still “horrifying” to watch flames destroy parts of Notre Dame Cathedral, which is 625 years older than St. Peter’s, said Mockler. During a service that drew some 1,100 people to the downtown structure Monday evening, the Father spent some time looking up to its ceiling and walls.

“I was just thinking to myself how would I feel, or how would we feel as a parish family if we came and found our cathedral had been devastated by fire and began to make it very personal,” he said.

Notre Dame Cathedral is among the most famous from the Middle Ages. Construction of the iconic landmark began in 1163, according to its website. It was built on the ruins of two earlier churches.

The UNESCO World Heritage site was currently under a 6-million euro (C$9.07-million) renovation project.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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