NY archbishop starts relief fund after Notre Dame fire

©Agence France-Presse

Three days after a fire devastated Paris' landmark Notre-Dame cathedral, the Archbishop of New York said he has set up a fund to help rebuild

New York (AFP) - The archbishop of New York on Thursday said he has set up a fund to help rebuild Notre-Dame cathedral, meant to give New Yorkers a way to help.

"Almost from the very first moments we heard the awful news that Notre-Dame was ablaze, New Yorkers of all faiths, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, reached out to me to express their sorrow at the devastation, and ask how they could help," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the New York archbishop, said in a statement.

Dolan said billionaire financier Kenneth Langone had phoned him and pledged help to France.

"So today we are announcing from Saint Patrick’s to Notre-Dame, a way for people from New York and around the country to contribute in helping rebuild this magnificent house of faith and monument to western civilization," Dolan said, noting that $110,000 had already been collected.

The funds will be sent directly to the archbishop of Paris, he explained.

Some of France's biggest companies and richest tycoons, including luxury goods rivals Francois-Henri Pinault and Bernard Arnault, have pledged amounts of 100 million euros or more for Notre-Dame after it was gutted by fire Monday.

Donation pledges for rebuilding so far have hit 850 million euros.

The vast sums have drawn criticism in a country where wealth inequality and the plight of low-income households have been in the spotlight during five months of demonstrations by "yellow vest" protesters.

Philanthropist Langone, 83, urged Americans to donate "even a quarter or a dollar ... this is a way to put behind us a word we have heard too much: 'divisiveness.'"