World expresses horror, sorrow as Paris gem Notre Dame ravaged by blaze

World expresses horror, sorrow as Paris gem Notre Dame ravaged by blaze

Israeli leaders join international community in showing solidarity with French people in wake of devastating fire at iconic cathedral

Bystanders look on as flames and smoke billow from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris early on April 16, 2019. (Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)
Bystanders look on as flames and smoke billow from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris early on April 16, 2019. (Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)

The world expressed shock and sent prayers over the massive fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Monday, united in grief and in solidarity with the people of France.

Israeli leaders joined their counterparts around the world mourning the blaze which ravaged the iconic Gothic cathedral, though was stopped short of destroying the whole structure.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “deep sorrow over the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, a cultural and religious heritage site of France and of all humanity.”

President Reuven Rivlin and Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz also expressed solidarity with France

“The Notre Dame [cathedral] is among the most beautiful of Paris’s symbols and of France’s in general, but also one of the most important to any cultured person,” Rivlin said in a tweet Monday night.

President Reuven Rivlin speaks at the opening of a museum exhibition dedicated to diplomats who saved Jews during the Holocaust in Paris, France, January 24, 2019. (Haim Zach/GPO)

“Last January, I looked out over the Parisian skyline, all the more beautified by the cathedral’s spire,” he added. “Our hearts are with the citizens of France and the tales of Notre Dame, true and fictional, in prayer that they will endure forever.”

“On behalf of the State of Israel, I would like to express my deepest solidarity with France and the French nation over the terrible fire at Notre Dame, a world symbol of civilization,” Katz said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed “great sorrow” over the fire, according to the official PA news site Wafa.

He affirmed his “solidarity and sympathy with France and its friendly people in the wake of this event, which is painful for all of us.”

As the flames tore through the 12th-century cathedral, Spain’s prime minister offered France the help of his country in the recovery.

An image taken from a television screen shows an aerial view of the Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames on April 15, 2019, in the French capital Paris. (AFP)

The fire is a “catastrophe for France, for Spain and for Europe,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted Monday, adding that the flames are destroying “850 years of history, architecture, painting and sculpture.”

French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters near the scene that he will seek international help, including from the “greatest talents” in the world, to rebuild Notre Dame.

UNESCO secretary general Audrey Azoulay, a Jewish Frenchwoman, said the UN cultural agency “stands at France’s side to save and restore this priceless heritage.”

Flames and smoke rise from the interior of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019, after a fire engulfed the building. (PHILIPPE WOJAZER / POOL / AFP)

President Donald Trump, speaking at an appearance in Minnesota, spoke of the “terrible, terrible fire” that devastated “one of the great treasures of the world.”

“It’s a part of our growing up, it’s a part of our culture, it’s a part of our lives,” Trump said of the landmark.

The Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on an island in the Seine River in the heart of Paris, is one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations, drawing some 13 million people each year.

Tourists pose for a selfie while a French soldier patrols at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. (AP/Peter Dejong)

The fire’s emotional impact was widely felt. People from all over described in Facebook posts how they cried when they heard about the fire.

Former President Barack Obama posted an old photo of himself, his wife Michelle and their two daughters lighting candles in the cathedral.

“Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief,” Obama said on Twitter. Michelle Obama, who was in Paris on Monday on a book tour, said “my heart aches with the people of France.”

“The majesty of Notre Dame – the history, artistry, and spirituality – took our breath away, lifting us to a higher understanding of who we are and who we can be,” she tweeted. She predicted the cathedral would rise again.

Japan’s government early Tuesday expressed sympathy and said it would consider sending support to the French government. “Its damage is a loss to the world and our hearts ache,” said Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary.

The Vatican said Pope Francis “has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire.”

Pope Benedict XVI addresses the crowd after a vespers service at Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI is in France for a four-day visit that will take him from Paris to the shrine in Lourdes. (AP/Michel Euler, Pool)

As the flames spread, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, prayed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan for intercession.

“God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze,” Dolan said in a statement.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said “Notre Dame has for centuries stood proud and tall as an inimitable icon, a symbol of the country’s great culture and history.”

He expressed hopes “that the destruction can be restored to allow this unparalleled structure to return to its position of symbolic majesty on the Parisian skyline.”

A crown of thorns which was believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ and which was bought by King Louis IX in 1239 is presented at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Friday March 21, 2014. (AP/Remy de la Mauviniere)

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said many works of art and holy objects inside the church had been saved, but the art world was distressed about what might have been lost.

Barbara Drake Boehm, senior curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval Cloisters branch in New York, was desolate about damage to the cathedral, which she called “one of the great monuments to the best of civilization.”

“Civilization is just so fragile,” Boehm told a reporter in a trembling voice. “This great hulking monument of stone has been there since 1163. It’s come through so many trials.”

Crowds look on as flames and smoke billow from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. (ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP)

Jeff Ament, bass player for Pearl Jam, remembered spending hours at the cathedral in his first visit, in 1991, with record executive Michael Goldstone.

“Thinking about Paris,” Ament tweeted, with photos of the cathedral.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted that he’s “horrified,” calling the cathedral “a unique example of world heritage.”

In Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church’s secretary for inter-Christian relations Hieromonk Stefan called the fire “a tragedy for the entire Christian world and for all who appreciate the cultural significance of this temple,” the state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

People watch as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame Cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said it was following the blaze “with pain and sorrow.”

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri called the fire “an indescribable catastrophe for heritage and for humanity. Lebanon is in full solidarity with its friends, the French people.”

On Twitter, Trump suggested using planes to drop water on the flames. France’s Civil Security agency said that wasn’t feasible.

“All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral,” the agency tweeted.

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