The rector-archpriest of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris has denounced the idea of charging admission fees for tourists at France’s most famous churches, saying such a fee would make free access for believers all but impossible to ensure.
Mgr Patrick Jacquin spoke out after the culture ministry and national heritage officials discussed the idea at a meeting without consulting the Church. All religious buildings constructed before 1905 belong to the state, which is responsible for their upkeep.
With 14 million visitors a year, Notre Dame is the most frequented monument in France, the most visited country in the world.
“Imagine two lines, one for the faithful and one for tourists,” Mgr Jacquin told the daily La Croix. “It’s absurd - one would have to ask for baptismal certificates at the door.”
Fees might bring in sizable sums in Paris, he thought, but not in the rest of the 77 buildings the state maintains.
Any change in admission would require an amendment to the 1905 law separating Church and state.