European Travel Alert

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PARIS (Agence Faux Presse) — Roman Catholics in Europe, inspired by their American brethren, have begun to clean house.

It is remodeling season in Europe.

American tourists visiting Notre Dame cathedral in Paris remarked on the new absence of stained glass, kneelers, pews, and crucifixes.

"I like the plain glass, it lets me see the Eiffel Tower," said one woman from New Jersey.

"It’s about time the church got away from its history and traditions," said a man from Massachusetts. "It has been so homophobic, so monolithic, and the whole gothic angle has got to go."

Roman Catholics in Europe, it would seem, have finally taken the lead of Catholics in America in de-Catholicizing their churches. Current French, German, and Italian manuals for church architecture call for a greater emphasis on throw pillows, folding chairs, white paint, and a general absence of spiritual art.

"Who really knows what kind of art the people going to church really like?" queried one church architect. "We should never force a certain style of art on people."

One proposal calls for flat screen televisions with constantly shifting artistic scenes to replace hanging artwork on interior church walls.

"This is basically an update of the idea of sunlight shining through the old stained glass," said the architect, who did not reveal his name.

He cautioned, however, that such an idea should not lend credence to the idea that tradition is valuable, or worth preservation.

"The church is about today, about the people who are the church right now. We can’t let ourselves be dictated to by what a bunch of white European males decided centuries ago, in the dark ages."

Remarked one Frenchman: "There are so many more important places in life for decorating. My apartment is what matters most to me. I’m there all week. Church? I might make it there for an hour a week, if that. So who cares what it looks like?"

Economists predict that the American-style remodeling of European churches will have little, if any, impact on tourism dollars.

Mr. Dieteman [send him mail] is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate in philosophy at The Catholic University of America.

© 2002 David Dieteman

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