The horrific fire that has engulfed the glorious Notre Dame cathedral in Paris has hushed the world into silence as people wrestle with the reality that one of the West’s greatest monuments to God may burn to ash. Leaders from across the world have delivered gestures of solidarity to the French people, from the Vatican itself to President Trump.
As the news broke Monday, the president issued a tweet expressing the shock that many people felt as the news broke.
“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” Trump wrote.
Various others had expressed similar sentiment on social media. Unfortunately, flying water tankers would likely make the situation worse due to the building’s structure, according to the French Civil Defense agency.
“The drop of water by air on this type of building could indeed result in the collapse of the entire structure,” the agency said in French, according to NBC News. “Alongside those … who are currently doing the maximum to save #NotreDame.”
“Helicopter or airplane, the weight of the water and the intensity of the drop at low altitude could indeed weaken the structure of Notre-Dame and result in collateral damage to the buildings in the vicinity,” the agency added.
Later, President Trump delivered a message on the fire during a tax roundtable in Minnesota in which he referred to the cathedral as “greater than almost any museum in the world.”
I’ve been in communication with France. They’re having a terrible, terrible fire that you probably saw — some of you have heard, some of you have not because you’ve been here — but I will tell you the fire they’re having at the Notre Dame cathedral is something like few people have witnessed. When we left, we had a whole group of your great representatives, and when we left [Air Force One] it was burning at a level that you rarely see a fire burn.
It is one of the great treasures of the world, the greatest arts in the world. If you think about it, it might be greater than almost any museum in the world and it is burning very badly. It looks like it is burning to the ground. So, so, that puts a damper on what we’re about to say, to be honest, because that is beyond countries, it is beyond anything. That is part of our growing up, it is a part of our culture, it is part of our lives. That is a truly great cathedral, and I’ve been there, and I’ve seen it, and there is no cathedral, I think, like it. It is a terrible scene.
And they think it was caused by — at this moment, they don’t know. But they think it was caused by renovation, and I hope that’s the reason. Renovation, what’s that all about?
It is a terrible sight to behold.
The Vatican later issued a statement on the tragedy expressing “sadness” over the fire, calling on all Catholics to join in solidarity. “The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world,” said the Holy See.