By Cailey Rizzo
June 18, 2019
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A majority of the funding to rebuild Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral has come from small donations, particularly from Americans, the church said.

Over the weekend, the church held its first mass in two months, celebrating a path towards reopening the church after the devastating fire. But the structure’s future is still uncertain and funding that was promised has yet to come through.

“The big donors haven't paid. Not a cent,” André Finot, a spokesperson for Notre Dame told Associated Press. “They want to know what exactly their money is being spent on and if they agree to it before they hand it over, and not just to pay employees' salaries.”

Related: Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral Before the Fire: An Unforgettable History in Photos

Some of the reluctance may come from a controversy surrounding the rebuild. Some church officials want the rebuild to be a faithful recreation of what was lost in the fire. Others, including French President Emmanuel Macron, hope construction will create something new, “an alliance of tradition and modernity, a respectful audacity.” Polls show that 54 percent of French citizens side with a faithful reconstruction, according to Forbes.

The organization Friends of Notre Dame Paris estimates that 90 percent of the donations it has received has come from the U.S.

“Americans are very generous toward Notre Dame and the monument is very loved in America,” the organization’s president Michel Picaud, told the Associated Press. “Six out of our 11 board members are residents in the U.S.”

About $4.1 million was transferred to the cathedral last week to fund employee salaries and kickstart reconstruction efforts. Work to bring the cathedral back to its former glory has been going nonstop since the fire.

Almost $1 billion was pledged to the cathedral by some of France’s richest residents, but the church has only received about $89 million so far.

The April 15 fire ravaged the cathedral’s roof and caused its iconic spire to collapse. After the fire, President Macron vowed to have the structure rebuilt within five years, to coincide with the 2024 Olympic Games, to be held in Paris.

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