This is an unofficial translation of a message from Archbishop Aupetit of Paris sent in response to the fire in the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
‘“Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people,” says your God.’ (Is 40, 1) These words of the prophet resonate deeply this Holy Week, the week in which we accompany the Lord Jesus in his Passion and death and as he prepares our hearts for the joy of his Resurrection. Notre Dame, our dear cathedral, witness to so many of the most significant moments events in our nation’s story, has been destroyed by a terrible fire in spite of having resisted so many of the twists and turns of history. France weeps; and with her weep all her friends across the world. She is touched to the core to find her very stones witnessing now to hope, to an invincible hope, the same hope which, through the skill, courage, genius and faith of builders raised up this luminous lattice-work of stone, wood and glass all those centuries ago.
Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, thank you for the countless gestures of friendship and encouragement which have reached me from all over the world. Thank you for the expressions of solidarity, for your fervent prayer which is so consoling to our hearts. We should make the most of this great wave of emotion to live all the more intensely this Holy Week so vitally significant to Christians. Let us try to rediscover through all of this the gift the Father made to us when in our baptism he allowed us to be his children. God is always faithful and waits with open arms for us to return to him.
All the faithful of Paris are invited to the Chrism Mass which will take place in the Church of Saint Sulpice. It will be an opportunity for us to show our unity, our faith, our confidence in the future. We understand that we need not only to rebuild our cathedral but at the same time to rebuild a Church whose face has been so wounded. I would like to invite all people of goodwill to place in their window on Easter night a light, as we will be doing in every church at the start of the Easter Vigil with its rite of new fire. That rite signifies that the light enlightens the darkness, that life has triumphed once and for ever over death.
Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, my fervent prayer is that the tragedy of what happened last Monday night will help our nation rediscover its unity, enable us to build anew that which we see inscribed on the front of all our public buildings: fraternity. It is our firm belief that the origin of fraternity is to be found in the fatherhood of God who is the source of all love.
Paris, 17 March 2019