All at the bedside of religious heritage? On the eve of heritage days, Emmanuel Macron announced, from the collegiate church of Semur-en-Auxois (Burgundy), a national collection for the benefit of religious heritage. Open from September 15, managed by the Heritage Foundation, it will allow municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants who own a building to carry out their restoration and maintenance work.
Donations made will be, up to 1000 euros, deductible from income tax at 75% (as was the case for donations for the benefit of Notre-Dame de Paris). Beyond that, a rate of 66% will apply. The goal is to raise 200 million euros in four years.
“I am convinced that popular emotion (in the face of the deterioration of buildings, editor’s note) will mobilize to save heritage and help communities,” said Emmanuel Macron, who wishes to “transform this emotion into positive energy.” Beyond collection, the State says it is ready to help municipalities and support them in carrying out work on buildings. “We are going to simplify the systems,” continued the president. Many elected officials, and particularly mayors of small villages, have neither the time nor the human resources to put together heavy diagnostic files for their church or requests for public aid.
While the controversy rumbles around the presence of Emmanuel Macron at the mass given by Pope Francis on September 23 in Marseille, the president insisted on the secular nature of his announcements, which will be made in his “strict respect”. Faced with the degradation of heritage, a “feeling of indignation is emerging among elected officials and populations, whether we believe it or not,” he said.
The President of the Republic unveiled his plan in front of the Notre Dame collegiate church, a 13th century building which, according to Céline Duchesne, city heritage coordinator, would require “four million euros of work”. In addition to Brigitte Macron, the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul-Malak, Stéphane Bern, Édouard de la Lamaze (Observatory of religious heritage) or Olivier de Rohan Chabot (Safeguarding French art), representatives of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions were present. Although focused on Catholic buildings, which form the vast majority of religious heritage, the measures can also apply to synagogues, Orthodox churches, Protestant temples or mosques - provided that they belong to a public body, and not not to a religious association.
France has nearly 42,000 Catholic churches and buildings. Since the law of 1905, 90% of them belong to communities, which often struggle to maintain them. The Heritage Loto, preservation associations, the region, the departments or the Ministry of Culture when buildings are listed play a significant role in their support? But according to the religious heritage observatory, some 3,000 buildings are threatened with ruin or abandonment. Thousands more need work.