‘In an age of darkness light appears
And it wards away the ancient fears
March to the anthem of the heart
To a brand new day, a brand new start’
The Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris with its magnificent stained glass windows and its pinnacles jutting up into the sky is burning. The ‘demons’ that vertically climb its spires are burning – those disturbing gargoyles of Viollet-le-Duc, punctuating the grave dangers of the highest road of all. These devils burn with pleasure in their own element, fire. Their presence is no longer necessary, their admonition to a Western civilization which has neglected all transcendence and is pummeled, dazed and defeated in the turbulence of its crude inconsistencies, is useless.
The first day of Holy Week is in flames in the drama of a modern Christianity that has lost the sense of the sacred by feasting on worldliness, in its own words: ‘The Holy See witnessed 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.We express our closeness to French Catholics and the people of Paris and are praying for the firemen and all those who are doing everything possible to face this dramatic situation,’ declares a message from the Vatican. And where is Pope Francis, where has he hidden his face and why doesn’t his hand warn us? Why doesn’t the Pontiff give a solemn shake of the papal crown, why does not Christian Europe tremble?
Here comes a broken Emmanuel Macron, even more than usually mellifluous: ‘Like all our compatriots, I am sad tonight to see a part of our very selves go up in flames’ while Donald Trump takes it on with typical American pragmatism bordering on comical swagger and inanity: ‘It’s terrible to watch the Notre Dame fire. Perhaps fire-fighting planes could be used to extinguish the flames.We must act quickly!’. But it is Chancellor Angela Merkel who exceeds the lot, joining in with participatory indifference with a final synthesis, emblematic of the huge demagoguery of unified European secularist thought: ‘Notre Dame is a symbol of French and European culture.’ Here is the apotheosis: the beating heart of the European Union regrets the decline of the culture that it itself has renounced, knowingly and profoundly, repeatedly opposing the validation and recognition of its millenary tradition, denying the Christian identity and roots kept well away from its constitutive principles. Suddenly, therefore, the fetishes of European civilization return, improvised and burned like dying beasts in the desert of consciousness and contemporary morality: a symbol falls, they say, of Christianity and culture! Listen instead to the prophetic and fateful words of Pope Joseph Ratzinger from Passau: (on the revolutionary and reformist thinking of the 1960s, ed.) the argument that morality should be defined only according to human purposes is widely made... Therefore there cannot be anything absolutely good nor anything absolutely evil, but only relative evaluations. Good no longer exists, but only what is relatively better at the moment and depending on circumstances.’ The triumph of the directed relativism of the secularized Europe of caste, bureaucracy and international finance’s Realpolitik.
The cathedral of Notre Dame will be properly rebuilt. Vittorio Sgarbi is sure of it: enough of this instrumental rhetoric about the symbols of an afflicted and wounded Christianity. It was an accident, everything will return to its original splendour as already happened with La Fenice in Venice or at La Scala in Milan.
Christian Europe burns. Yes, but it is a phenomenon of self-combustion.