We can't just rebuild

The Rev'd Terence Chandra serves with his wife, the Rev'd Jasmine Chandra, in Saint John, New Brunswick. They are community priests at Stone Church, an Anglican ministry based in the urban core. 

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is not merely a triumph of Medieval architecture — a composite of stone, wood and glass, precisely and harmoniously balanced to produce a totality far in excess of the sum of its parts. Nor is it merely a grand repository of historical treasures.

Notre Dame de Paris is — like the many chapels, cathedrals and basilicas that adorn the cities and countrysides of Europe and North America — a monument to a time when the church and her teachings pervaded every nook and cranny of society, from the humble home of the peasant to the grand halls of the nobility. It stands as a memorial to a time when archbishops made rulings on matters of state and the word of a pope could unmake kings.


It comes as no surprise, then, that the sight of this great house of worship engulfed in flames should become emblematic of the decline of the church in the West: a slow and steady burn, 500 years in the making, that has devastated Western Christendom. It is tragically fitting that this catastrophe should take place in France, once the home of the Holy See and now among the most secular nations in the West.

In the course of my roughly decade-long ministry as an Anglican priest, I have not seen any churches or cathedrals burn. I have, however, seen many of them deconsecrated and abandoned, sold and demolished, remade into homes, shops, or museums. Although none of these closures made international headlines...

Leave a Comment