St Paul's protest: Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser quits

 

Dr Fraser says he could not support any move by the church to use "violence"

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The Church of England should do nothing which could "lead to violence" against anti-capitalism protesters, the canon chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral has said after resigning from his post.

Dr Giles Fraser quit "with great regret and sadness", having been sympathetic to activists camping in the churchyard.

He told the BBC he hoped a solution between the two sides would be negotiated, rather than enforced.

The cathedral will reopen on Friday lunchtime after a week-long closure.

It shut on health and safety grounds because of the large number of tents outside.

A special service will be held to mark the reopening at 12:30 BST but its dome and galleries will stay shut "for the time being", a spokeswoman said.

'Not a simple issue'

Differences over the handling of the protest are thought to have prompted Dr Fraser's decision, the BBC's religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said.

Start Quote

There are all sorts of people who are being adversely affected by the camp and I would like the camp to move on too, because I think it does have an effect on small traders and ordinary people in the area”

End Quote Dr Giles Fraser Ex-Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral

Demonstrators, who are protesting against alleged corporate greed and inequality, have vowed to remain for several weeks.

The City of London Corporation's planning committee is due to hear legal advice on Friday and decide whether to take court action against the demonstrators.

Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX) said it had reorganised the camp to allow the cathedral's reopening, but said the issue of legal action was "a minefield" in terms of land ownership and the human rights.

Dr Fraser, who was a former vicar of Putney, had taken up the cathedral post, a Crown appointment, in 2009.

"This is not a simple issue and I don't think anybody is trying to claim moral high ground on this at all," he said.

"My colleagues who've acted differently to me are quite right in saying that they want to reopen the cathedral; they want the cathedral to get on with its life.

"And, if I can argue their side as well, the truth of the matter is there are all sorts of people who are being adversely affected by the camp and I would like the camp to move on too, because I think it does have an effect on small traders and ordinary people in the area.

"But what I'm not prepared to do is sanction the use of force in order to do that."

'Unique contribution'

After Dr Fraser's resignation, the Dean of St Paul's, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, said he was "sorry to see him go".

"Giles has brought a unique contribution to the life and ministry of St Paul's," he said.

The BBC has questioned 150 of the activists about their backgrounds and motives for protesting

"He has developed the work of the St Paul's Institute and has raised the profile of our work in the City.

"We are obviously disappointed that he is not able to continue to his work with Chapter during these challenging days.

"We will miss his humour and humanity and wish Giles and his family every good wish into the future."

Ronan McNern from OLSX said Dr Giles was a "man of principles" and activists were "very grateful for the respect and support" he had shown them by defending their right to protest.

"The fact that he has resigned shows a clear split within the cathedral."

Another spokesman for the group said if Dr Fraser wanted to join the camp they would provide him with a tent.

The protesters said they were still open for dialogue.

'Common sense prevails'

When the camp was first set up, Dr Fraser said he was happy for the demonstrators to stay and asked police to scale back their presence.

He has refused to sanction the use of force to remove them as pressure mounts on the cathedral to join in legal action against protesters, our correspondent said.

Demonstrators in their tents at the St Paul's protest camp Protesters have vowed to remain at the site in the City of London for several weeks

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, who had also called on the protesters to go, said Dr Fraser was an "important voice in the Church" and should continue to be heard.

"I regret his resignation because his is a very important voice, and while obviously it's a matter between him, the dean, and the rest of the chapter, I've got a certain pastoral responsibility for Giles.

"I think his is a voice which really ought to be heard," Dr Chartres said.

"It would be a tragedy if it was silenced."

The cathedral claimed to be losing £20,000 a day since its closure.

The area around St Paul's Cathedral
 

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  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 586.

    Seems that the money-changers have thrown the reformer out of the temple...

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 585.

    @pavane @phil, Your comments define you. Please go and read-up on this before posting!

    Only arrogant ignorance claims to have all the answers, informed intelligence consults, pools and shares ideas before offering alternatives.

    Protesters refrain from pushing 'their' solutions precisely because they realise what you evidently do not:
    it takes time and collaboration to replace a BROKEN system.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 584.

    It's sad to hear of Giles Fraser's resignation Although there are many areas of doctrine where I disagree with him, in this case I congratulate him on standing firmly for his beliefs. His is one of the few voices of reason and compassion I've heard from the staff at St. Paul's. His, the true gospel message. I'm no longer sure for what, apart from a tourist attraction, the Cathedral now stands.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 583.

    St Paul’s should be deconsecrated, fitted with money operated turn-styles, remaining clergy taught how to throw loaded dice and display its true function/colours.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 582.

    Maybe the CoE could offset some of its losses from St. Paul’s due to the OLSX sit-in by selling off a prime piece of property in London, an abandoned church, that I photographed recently together with its plaque which read ‘The Church School - For Religious Instruction and Industry - Supported by annual Subscriptions and Benefactions - and the produce of the Children’s work.’

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 581.

    This is all just stupid. There's no one there. It's just an oudoor marketing campain by Millets. Give a tent a good home - it doesn't like being all cramped up in the city. Set it free in the country. Shame on you cruel protestors.

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 580.

    How can any man of the cloth now honestly stand in the pulpit and speak of poverty, loving thy neighbour, being a more caring and compassionate society and about greed and selfishness after the actions of the church clearly motivated for financial gain?

    They have made a mockery of absolutely everything they have taught for generations

    I'm totally disgusted and ashamed of what they now represent

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 579.

    @561.OriginalFoogirl

    I'm all for unity and getting through it but that is not the contention.

    Which direction we walk in is! Some of us do not want to be lead by the nose-ring down the same path that brought us here in the first place.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 578.

    The church should be preaching against the greed and speculation (that is to say, gambling) of the crazy modern finance system.

    Private losses have been turned into an astronomical public debt to be paid for by ordinary taxpayers and the loss of vital public services. Where did the private profits go? Why is no-one accountable?

    Of course people should have the right to protest about this.

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 577.

    In less than two weeks, the "protestors" have demonstrably moved from Avante Garde to 'aven't a clue.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 576.

    The person who pointed out that "people should make their political statements at the ballot box", misses the point: The whole point of the protest is that the people and insitutions who actually run our country are not available on ballot papers to vote for! Surely no one believes the government wanted the economic crash killing our public services or to be beholden to Rupert Murdoch's empire?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 575.

    Is the Reverend Giles Fraser seriously suggesting that up until now he didn't realise he was working for one of the most capitalist organisations in the UK which runs it's businesses with a capitalist ethos and also relies on capitalist financail invstments to ensure- amongst other things- he is paid?

    The irony of it all.

  • Comment number 574.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +17

    Comment number 573.

    559.Little me
    To 495 Trust me those of us that work for a living are well aware of the greedy banks and the damage they have done. How fortunate the protestors are to have the time and inclination to demonstrate. I have to work full time to feed my family.
    ==
    As do most of us. But I, for one, am grateful that someone is bringing this issue to the fore, and I give these people my full support.

  • rate this
    -16

    Comment number 572.

    Its about time government got tough. Most of them are the usual rag tag spongers who tag on to the latest protest. If they are signing on the dole they are supposed to be 'actively seeking full time employment' and 'available' for work camping out on streets are neither. If they are the usual i'm a disabled sponger how come they can lie in tents or their backsides on pavements.

  • rate this
    -94

    Comment number 571.

    I hope the OLSX protestors are proud of themselves for putting the canon chancellor in such a difficult position. As for the financial situation, does anyone else think its ironic that a not for profit organisation (The Church) is suffering most as a result of the occupation?

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 570.

    I thought it was very refreshing that a member of the establishment came out in support of the protesters. I am sorry that he has felt the need to resign. So, the Cathedral is losing money, in the scheme of things it is peanuts. The Church is losing congregations hand over fist. Maybe they should consider inviting the demonstrators in to friday Eucharist, or bringing the service out to them

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 569.

    @556 - what EXACTLY are the protestors against? Having money? Making money? Running a business? Running a successful business? Having a church make money? Afterall those stained glass windows don't clean themselves...

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 568.

    to all those taking the opportunity to riddicule the church, the vast majority of the posts on here and christians in general agree with the the rev frazer which goes to prove your assumptions are wrong. you are criticising the church as unbelievers but it is believers who are criticising it much more.
    st pauls is a church special but just one of thousands in our country.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 567.

    How much concentration is required to do praying? Anyone inside the cathedral is unlikely to be unable to make effective contact with God because of protestors outside. It's more likely because there is no God, and not because he isn't listening or because protestors are protesting. Without wishing to appear holier than thou, I would say that St Paul's should never have been closed.

 

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