Notre Dame fire: What Oklahomans said
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City: Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in the Western world, and for Catholics a place of pilgrimage, worship and devotion. It is an architectural wonder and a world treasure. The images of flames ravaging the 800-year-old Gothic church, as well as its vast collection of art and relics is difficult to watch. I pray for the people of Paris, the archbishop of Paris and for the safety of firefighters battling to put out the blaze.
Sister Maria Faulkner, founder of Gospel of Life Dwellings (GOLD) ministry: The whole world is touched by this (fire). It (the cathedral) drew people of all cultures and faiths. It's a crossroads of hearts and minds and cultures. I spent four years in Paris when I earned my degree in palliative/hospice care at the University of Paris. It is just a sad loss of a true treasure, one that I hope will reawaken our respect for God and the things of God. The reason the cathedral was built was to honor God and so that people would go there to worship Him. I pray that it inspires us to seek and cherish beauty. For Christians, it's a great symbol of that encounter with the love of Jesus. This is the beginning of Holy Week when we walk that walk with Jesus to the Cross. I was in Paris when 9/11 happened. When that happened, I went to the Cathedral to pray and I felt a great solidarity and support from the people who were around. I pray that the people of Paris feel our prayers.
The Rev. James Pruett, pastor of St. James the Greater Catholic Church: I visited the cathedral about a dozen times over the years. I'm very sorry about the fire. I don't want to think in terms of someone deliberately destroying that. It's one of the great holy places on the face of the planet. It would be a loss to humanity if they can't save some of it. It's really a loss to the Catholic community but not just the Catholic community. It's been a symbol of the faith and a symbol of freedom for years. Even in Nazi-occupied Paris, people still went there to pray. It's a place where many of the saints prayed, like Joan of Arc. It's been a center of the Christian faith for centuries and the thought of losing that is just heartbreaking. It will be rebuilt, if for no other reason than 12 million tourists go there each year. It's magnificent and you are keenly aware of people who have gone there to pray over the centuries. There are some things that they won't be able to rebuild. You just don't have the tools for that kind of workmanship anymore. Plus, I've learned that stained glass windows change colors over the years — the blues and the reds get deeper and deeper.
The Rev. Roger Bruns, senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church: I think the hearts of all Christians go out on this kind of devastating loss. There are relics in that cathedral and the one that touched me is that there are supposedly thorns from the true crown of thorns that Jesus wore. To an extent, our faith reposes in a building like Notre Dame. Our faith reposes in a relic like the crown of thorns. A place like Notre Dame builds faith, a faith that's really built on the faith and sacrifice of those who built it. I had the privilege of visiting Notre Dame years ago and my heart breaks over it.
Charles Kimball, chair of the University of Oklahoma Department of Religious Studies: Happily, after Vatican II, the centuries of hostility and conflict between Protestants and Roman Catholics have changed into cooperative ecumenical relationships. Most Protestants today are eager to visit the Vatican and great cathedrals like Notre Dame and Chartres in France in order to marvel at the majesty, the art, and the historical importance such structures represent for Christianity. I, and I’m sure other Protestants, were both saddened by the tragic fire but also relieved to learn that much of the structure and icons housed at Notre Dame were saved from destruction.
By Carla Hinton, religion editor
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