According to multiple sources, the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was evacuated today after a far-right Catholic activist went to the altar and shot himself in the mouth. The suicide, which was witnessed by hundreds of tourists, appears to have been a protest against same-sex marriage.
The UK’s Daily Mail reports:
The Cathedral was full of visitors when the horrific incident took place, at around 4pm.
‘There was screaming and lot so shouting following a loud bang,’ said one witness. ‘People were naturally very scared and began to run out in panic.
‘Police and other emergency workers including firemen got here very quickly, and then the whole cathedral was evacuated.’
Dominique Venner, age 78, was a well-known essayist and a former member of a paramilitary group known as the Secret Army Organization (OAS), which waged a bombing and assassination campaign in the early 1960s to protest France giving Algeria its independence.
Mr. Venner was also close to the anti-marriage equality movement and an outspoken critic of France’s new marriage equality law, which President François Hollande signed on Saturday. He made no verbal statement before he shot himself, but a letter was found on his person. The contents of Mr. Venner’s letter have not yet been released.
[Preventing marriage equality] certainly will require new, spectacular, and symbolic actions to wake up the sleep walkers, shake the anaesthetized consciousness, and awaken the memory of our origins. We are entering a time when words must be authenticated by acts…
It is here and now that our destiny is played until the final second. And this final second has as much importance as the rest of a life. That is why we need to be ourselves until the very last instant.
It seems that Mr. Venner chose to end his life so that he wouldn’t have to live to see the day when loving and committed same-sex couples in France are able to marry. What a tragedy, that others’ happiness would make this man want to die.
How profoundly sad. Mr. Venner’s family has my sympathies.