Catholic news editor calls Notre Dame 'the beating heart of French Catholicism'

Catholic news editor John Allen Jr., the president of Crux Media, on Tuesday said Notre Dame Cathedral is "the beating heart of French Catholicism."

"France has always been called the oldest daughter of the church," Allen Jr. told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on "Rising" a day after a fire damaged a large portion of the 850-year-old cathedral.

"It's actually the first country in Western Europe where the faith took down roots, and it's been a critically important culture-shaping nation in the history of the church for centuries," he added. "Notre Dame Cathedral is the beating heart of French Catholicism."

The massive fire destroyed the cathedral's spire and iconic stained glass windows.

Authorities initially thought the entire structure would be destroyed, but much of the cathedral remains intact, including the bell towers.

Allen Jr. emphasized the importance of the cathedral to everyday life in the French capital.

"It's where essentially everything important in French life occurs," he said. "Napoleon was crowned there, for instance. It's where Parisians and French men and women go when they're happy, when they want to celebrate something. For instance, the liberation of Paris after the Second World War."

"It's where they go when they want to mourn, for instance for the death of President de Gaul, the terrorist attacks a few years ago," he added. "It's a functioning Catholic parish, so it's incredibly important to the Catholic community. But obviously it's a site that transcends Catholicism." 

— Julia Manchester