At Easter mass, Parisians pray for Notre-Dame’s swift restoration

A choir perform during a Mass in tribute to the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral at the Saint Eustache church in Paris on Easter Sunday, on April 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2019

At Easter mass, Parisians pray for Notre-Dame’s swift restoration

  • “We will rise up again and our cathedral will rise up again,” the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, said at the service

PARIS: With no cathedral to go to, hundreds of Parisians gathered for Easter Sunday mass at the smaller Saint-Eustache catholic church on the city’s right bank, and prayed for the swift restoration of Notre-Dame after its devastating fire.
The archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, began the service by drawing a parallel between the planned reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, celebrated every year by Christians at Easter.
“We will rise up again and our cathedral will rise up again,” he told the congregation, which included the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and the head of the Paris fire service, General Jean-Claude Gallet.
The mass had originally been scheduled to be held at Notre-Dame, whose spire was destroyed and its roof gutted in Monday’s blaze as rescuers put their lives at risk to salvage the rest of the centuries-old cathedral and its priceless artefacts.
Half way through the mass, Gallet received a minute’s applause from the congregation in tribute to the 400 firefighters who extinguished the blaze, and was then handed a bible that survived the fire.
“We wish to reunite with the faithful, to pray together, hoping that Notre-Dame of Paris is revived as quickly as possible,” said Annie le Bourvellec, a charity worker, as hundreds of worshippers queued outside Saint-Eustache, one of Paris’s biggest churches, ahead of the mass.
Kimon Yiasemiees, a construction litigation expert from Washington D.C., expressed a similar sentiment.
“It is a tragedy, but in any tragedy, you have to look for a hope of renewal,” he said. “And it just shows me that, not only the French people, but people around the world are really in tune to Notre-Dame and to Paris...”
President Emmanuel Macron pledged this week that France would rebuild the cathedral in five years and that the French people would pull together to repair their national symbol.
The destruction of one of the France’s best-loved and visited monuments prompted an outpouring of sorrow and a rush by rich families and corporations to pledge around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for its reconstruction.

($1 = 0.8891 euros)


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.