Notre Dame’s rector: “15 or 20 years” needed for restoration

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Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, second right, attends the Washing of the Feet ceremony for Maundy Thursday, in Notre Dame Cathedral, Thursday, April 1, 2021, almost two years after a massive fire ravaged the Gothic cathedral. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)

PARIS (AP) — The rector of Notre Dame said Friday that the burned-out Paris cathedral and its esplanade could remain a building site for another “15 or 20 years.”

Rector Patrick Chauvet spoke to The Associated Press following Good Friday ceremonies, including venerating the “Crown of Thorns” at Notre Dame’s temporary liturgical base, the nearby church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois.

He added that: “I can guarantee that there’s work to do!”

In the days following the April 15, 2019, blaze that engulfed Paris’ Gothic gem, French President Emmanuel Macron set a five-year restoration deadline for 2024, when Paris is to host the Summer Olympics. But French officials quickly backpedaled Macron’s statement, conceding that it was unrealistic to complete the enormous project by that time.

The blaze also distributed vast amounts of toxic lead from the cathedral’s burned-out roof onto the site and nearby, complicating the clean-up work that came before restoration efforts could even begin.

Works planned include remodeling the cathedral’s esplanade, which before the blaze was visited every year by 20 million tourists.

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