firefighters

Priest rushes under the flames inside Notre Dame Cathedral to save a ... STATUE of Jesus?

Priest rushes under the flames inside Notre Dame Cathedral to save a ... STATUE of Jesus?

OK, Catholic readers of GetReligion (and you know who you are), we have a solution to a journalism mystery that many noticed in the wave of coverage following the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

The big question raised by The New York Times: What’s the difference between a “statue” of Jesus and a priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament”? Hold that thought.

Let’s start with Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade and one of the heroes of efforts to save what could be saved inside the iconic cathedral. Quite a few people are reporting stories about the actions that he took when it became clear that there was no way to stop the flames in the wooden structures holding up the cathedral roof.

Here’s the top of my “On Religion” column for this week, which led with this angle of the story:

As the flames rushed through Notre Dame Cathedral's wooden rafters -- each beam cut from an individual oak -- a squad of firefighters began a strategic mission.

Their leader was Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade. The goal was to save a crown of thorns that pilgrims have venerated for centuries as part of one worn by the crucified Jesus. King Louis IX brought the relic to Paris in 1238, after receiving it as a gift from the embattled emperor of Constantinople.

Fournier and his firefighters were, according to KTO Catholic Television, able to "save the crown of thorns and the Blessed Sacrament." Forming a human chain, they retrieved as many relics and works of sacred art as they could, until the flames won.

Meanwhile, American television networks solemnly told viewers that "art," "artifacts" and "works of art" had been retrieved from this iconic structure at the heart of Paris. In a major story about the fire, The New York Times noted that Notre Dame Cathedral had "for centuries … enshrined an evolving notion of Frenchness."

So here is a basic religion-beat journalism challenge: How does one describe the “Blessed Sacrament” in a few phrases? Some journalists struggled with that.

For some reporters, the crucial issue was trying to turn “sacraments” and holy relics into “art” and “artifacts.”

Please respect our Commenting Policy

The Palombo 10: At the 9/11 anniversary, an exceptional story of family and faith from CNN

The Palombo 10: At the 9/11 anniversary, an exceptional story of family and faith from CNN

I didn't read or watch a whole lot of coverage of the 9/11 anniversary.

To a large extent, I can identify with what a good friend and fellow reporter wrote on Facebook:

Truth: I want to forget what I saw live on television on Sept. 11. I want to forget that it brought April 19 back to life for me. I want to forget what I saw in person on April 19. I won't forget. I can't forget. But I really don't want to remember.

Like my friend, I covered the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The bombing was, until Sept. 11, 2001, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. And like my friend, I still can't think about one without recalling the other. 

But I did allow myself to digest one story timed to the 15th anniversary of 9/11 — and I'm so glad I did. I perused this piece because a faithful GetReligion reader shared the link and suggested that it really needed our attention. 

"IT IS SO GOOOD," the reader said.

After reading it, I agree 110 percent. In fact, this is one of those cases where I really should just share the link and tell you to read it. No commentary necessary:

Please respect our Commenting Policy