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PARIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - Donations have flooded in to the tune of nearly $1 billion within days of Notre Dame Cathedral's ravaging by fire.
Stephane Bern, envoy for presidential cultural heritage, told France-Info Wednesday that $995 million has already been pledged in less than two days since Monday's blaze, which ripped through the roof and toppled the spire of the 850-year-old cathedral. Among the big donors were L'Oreal, Chanel and Dior, as well as Apple, along with smaller donations from various Catholic dioceses and parishes within and outside France.
Indiana's University of Notre Dame also pledged to give to the rebuilding project, noting that in April 1879, the Main Building, capped by the Golden Dome and the university's iconic statue of Our Lady, burnt to the ground.
"One hundred and forty years ago this month, we had a similar catastrophe," said Dennis Brown, spokesman for the university.
A number of commentators have weighed in, calling the blaze a symbol of the destruction of the Faith in a largely post-Christian France.
"Viewing the ravage of the Cathedral of Notre Dame by yesterday's fire," Cdl. Raymond Burke said in comments to LifeSiteNews, "men and women of faith are led to consider the attacks upon the infinite beauty of the faith by the grievous sins and crimes of our day."
"What took decades of dedicated labor of the most excellent kind to build is destroyed in a matter of a few hours," he noted.
He went on to say that the fire was "a sobering reflection upon the destructiveness of man's rebellion against the beauty, truth and goodness with which God has created us and our world and has redeemed us and our world by the Redemptive Incarnation of His only-begotten Son, the very event celebrated in the building of the Cathedral of Notre Dame."
Quoting British author Hilaire Belloc, who once said, "the faith is Europe and Europe is the faith," Paul Kengor wrote, "the state of the faith in much of Europe is in flames.
"[T]his seems, at the least, an undeniable symbol of France's failure to protect its Christian heritage," he added.
And in an article titled "Only by returning to the Faith can we truly rebuild Notre Dame," Catholic commentator Chad Pecknold wrote:
As the spire cracked and buckled, millions of us felt civilization trembling. But trembling at what? At the loss of God? At the sudden recognition that, for all our progressive confidence, deep down everyone knows that Western civilization lacks the philosophical and religious principles that once made such a structure possible in the first place?
We tremble because we know that the world has been drawing down a Christian inheritance for centuries, drawing down the cultural wealth of the Faith into rampant prodigal decadence.
Rachel Lu, writing for The Week, also weighed in.
"Catholics were especially devastated, though, by the images of the cathedral in flames. We're keenly aware that our Church, as an ecclesiastical body, is not in a state of pristine health," Lu wrote. "Our leaders are venial and corrupt, and the abuse scandals never seem to end; the pews are predictably emptying as Rome tramples whatever moral authority it once had in the culture at large."
She went on to note, "Notre Dame needs considerable renovation, much like Catholicism, and human civilization more generally. But none of these things are truly dead."