World News: Our Lady Tempted by The Private

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The fire of Notre-Dame de Paris raises the issue of funding the maintenance of religious buildings under the control of an indebted state and tempted by the call to private to save a heritage time counted.

Past the controversies over the donations dedicated to the financing of the renovation work of Notre Dame de Paris, polemics typically French and which have not finished punctuating the upcoming comments on the future renovation, arises also and above all an essential question: What about the state of national cultural heritage and how in the years to come will the state contribute to its maintenance?

From the outset, let us dispel some of the prejudices, namely that a large part of the heritage is of private essence and that their owners are responsible for it. But with regard to the public heritage (with exception), including religious buildings (church, cathedral, temple, mosque and synagogue), the problem is quite different.

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A legal and historical reminder is needed. In France, since the promulgation of the law on the Separation of Churches and the State in 1905, religious buildings are under the responsibility of the State which ensures the maintenance and the inherent risks (the fire of Notre Dame is the typical example). In this case, the state is its own insurer.

Proof of Time and Public Finances

However, this legacy has become all the more cumbersome as over the years, the heritage in question is subject to the test of time and the public finances, supposed to provide the funds necessary for their maintenance, are subject to the deficit test ...

Historic Notre Dame Cathedral Destroyed

Some would argue that it is economically necessary to privatize all or part of this heritage in measures specific to each building, measures that should be fixed. "Horror! Would say the fierce defenders of a heritage under the control of the community. The argument of dispossession for the benefit of the private sector is audible, understandable and legitimate and it is up to everyone to know whether he is welcome or not.

For example, remember that the Eiffel Tower, a non-religious but private building, posted a revenue of 100 million euros in 2018 when Notre Dame de Paris presented a balance sheet amounting to 10 million, the faithful are refusing to privatize the entrance of the 12th century cathedral.

This decision, to the credit of those who have taken it, does not prevent the question of the recourse to the private sector will necessarily arise with more and more acuity in the coming years to finance the renovation work. Because if the subscriptions launched its last days for the renovation of the cathedral are public initiatives, the funds collected are private gasoline.

Debt and Doxa

There are several reasons for thinking. Starting with the cost of maintaining and renovating the buildings. If the Ministry of Culture is generous, the Ministry of Economy is not necessarily in view of current and future budget constraints.

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And if the cost remains so far negligible compared to the state budget (nearly 2.500 billion euros of which nearly 98% absorbed by the repayment of the public debt), this cost could experience a high inflation with regard to heritage wear accelerated by global warming. Another reason, which ignores the collective doxa that the heritage remains in the state (thus confirming the link between the French and the physical remains of their history), the relative ease with which it is possible to mobilize private funds.

Relative because all religious buildings are not worth Notre Dame and it will be more difficult to mobilize millions of euros for a chapel unknown to the general public for Notre Dame ....

A true cultural revolution that is announced and raised by the renovation of Notre-Dame whose greatness has passed through the ages but whose vicissitudes sends a country to economic realities that the fire has brought out.

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And if for now, get rid of supporters and detractors of private or public funding, will inevitably come time for the decision for Notre Dame and for other buildings: Private or public?



Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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