By J. D. Heyes

Residents of Paris, France were horrified on Monday as one of Europe’s oldest Catholic symbols outside of the Vatican, the Notre Dame Cathedral — built in the mid-to-latter 1100s, burned nearly to the ground.

Early reports claimed that the fire was caused by, or linked to, “renovation work,” but authorities were still on the scene as of this writing trying to determine what had happened.

Commentators and French newscasters were breathless in describing the scene as flames engulfed, and then collapsed the cathedral’s iconic spire.

“The cause is not yet clear, but officials say it could be linked to renovation work,” the BBC reported.

That said, additional early reports — and at this point, unverified, we should add — claim that perhaps the burning of this historic Christian site was intentional.

TIME columnist Christopher J. Hale tweeted around midday (U.S. time) on Monday: “A Jesuit friend in Paris who works in #NotreDame told me cathedral staff said the fire was intentionally set,” Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson reported.

After the tweet attracted a lot of attention, however, Watson noted that Hale deleted his tweet.

Watson went on to note that the Saint Sulpice Church in Paris was intentionally set ablaze earlier this year, but as is often the case, the Leftist media downplayed those reports.

Watson also noted the 800-pound elephant in the room, given that France’s Muslim population has soared in recent years to one of the highest, if not the highest, per capita throughout Europe:

As we reported earlier, anti-Christian attacks in France are on the rise while attacks against Jewish symbols have also risen by 74 per cent.

According to a group that studies hate crime attacks against Christians, February was the worst month for attacks on Christian churches since they began collecting data.

According to Ellen Fantini, anti-Christian attacks are being minimized despite representing the largest share of hate crimes.

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Watson also pointed out that more than 1,300 people had posted “smiley faces” in reaction to the fire on that social media sewer known as Twitter. “Appalling,” he wrote; many had Islamic names. 

On Fox News, meanwhile, host Shepard Smith cut off a French official who merely speculated that the fire was no accident, The Gateway Pundit noted.

“Not on my watch,” Smith scolded Philippe Karsenty, a French elected official who dared question the “politically correct” version that everyone already knows the fire was just an accident (if no one knows it wasn’t intentional — how can they know it was accidental?).

“Of course you will hear the story of the politically correct which will tell you it is probably an accident,” Karsenty began.

Karsenty then tried to bring up the reality that Christian churches throughout his country are being desecrated at an alarmingly high rate — a weekly basis — but apparently, such truths are not welcome on Smith’s “watch.”

“Even the Nazis didn’t dare destroy it [Notre Dame cathedral],” Karsenty said. “And you have to know for the last year we’ve had churches desecrated each and every week all over France so of course you will hear the story of the politically correct which will tell you it is probably an accident.”

“Sir. Sir! Sir! We’re not going to speculate here of the cause of something for which we don’t know,” Smith insisted. “No, sir, not here, not on my watch!”

But other publications are also reporting on the trend — and it is a trend — of destructive attacks on France’s Christian underpinnings.

Newsweek reports Tuesday:

France has seen a spate of attacks against Catholic churches since the start of the year, vandalism that has included arson and desecration.

Vandals have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist and torn down crosses, sparking fears of a rise in anti-Catholic sentiment in the country.

Last Sunday, the historic Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set on fire just after midday mass on Sunday,  Le Parisien reported, although no one was injured. Police are still investigating the attack, which firefighters have confidently attributed to arson.

Built in the 17th century, St. Sulpice houses three works by the Romantic painter Eugene de la Croix, and was used in the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown.  

Last month, at the St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles, in north-central France, a statue of the Virgin Mary was found smashed, and the altar cross had been thrown on the ground, according to  La Croix International, a Catholic publication.

Also in February, at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, in south-central France, an altar cloth was burned and crosses and statues of saints were smashed. The attack prompted Lavaur Mayor Bernard Canyon to say in a statement: “God will forgive. Not me.”

And in the southern city of Nimes, near the Spanish border, vandals looted the altar of the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants (Our Lady of the Children) and smeared a cross with human excrement.

Consecrated hosts made from unleavened bread, which Catholics believe to be the body of Jesus Christ, were taken and found scattered among rubbish outside the building.

No one is pointing any fingers yet, but the facts are clear: These attacks have been taking place, and denying them is akin to lying.

As to who is responsible or whether the Notre Dame Cathedral’s fire was intentionally set, time will tell.

The National Sentinel contributed to this story, a version of which was first published at NewsTarget.

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