18 April 2019, The Tablet

View from Rome

View from Rome

During Holy Week, all eyes in Rome have been on France, as the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris became engulfed in flames. The Notre Dame fire was played live across social media and watching it was a soul-burning experience. It felt to many as though a symbol of the Church and of European civilisation was being destroyed before their eyes. Yet as the flames subsided, hope rose from the ashes. Notre Dame’s exterior and its towers remain intact. Precious relics and the stained glass windows were saved. The cathedral is blackened and wounded but can and will be rebuilt.

It all felt like an apt image for Holy Week, with the new light of Easter Day emerging from the destruction of Good Friday. The story of Christianity is one of finding hope in the wreckage. It inspired St Francis of Assisi ten centuries ago, when he heard the words: “Rebuild my Church.” This is also the mission that drives the Pope, who took the name “Francis” from the poor friar from Assisi.

As he celebrated Holy Week, opposition to his renewal of the Church ratcheted up.

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