Most Notre-Dame pledges not yet honoured: archbishop

Paris (AFP) –


Most of the money pledged towards the reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral have yet to collected, the Archbishop of Paris said in a statement Wednesday.

The headline figure of a billion euros ($1.12 billion) had not been pledged by any major foundation or authority, said the Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit.

Notre-Dame Cathedral, in the historic heart of Paris, lost its spire and most of its roof in a spectacular fire on April 15, prompting a outpouring of support worldwide.

But while there would probably not be any problem with the biggest sums promised by famous patrons, they had not yet been delivered -- and so far they only had 13.5 million euros.

"That is why the collection continues," he added.

Of the 13.5 million euros so far received, 9.5 million euros came from 43,000 individual donors, from France and abroad -- including 7,000 Americans, said the archbishop. The remaining four million came from major donors.

Already last weekend, La Fondation du Patrimoine, one of the four bodies tasked with collecting money to restore Notre Dame announced it had stopped collecting.

The Fondation said it had received 218 million euros and that the total received towards restoring the cathedral came to 900 million.

But Culture Minister Franck Riester said Monday: "It is premature to think that we have too much money collected."

The Paris archbishopric is coordinating the receipt of donations.

It runs the Fondation Notre-Dame, which is in talks with the Pinault and Arnault families, rival French luxury goods empires that have pledged 100 million and 200 million euros respectively.

These major patrons would stagger their contribution to meet the needs of the reconstruction work, Christophe Rousselot of the Fondation Notre-Dame told AFP.

If the collection of money was continuing, he added, it was also because nobody could yet say how much the restoration work would cost.