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
    +18

    Comment number 686.

    We should all support Canon Giles. I am not religious in the slightest, but this man stood up for what he believed and has been made to feel that he had to leave a job he loved dearly because of it.

    Maybe if we all get behind this man then the church (and its backers) will realise peer pressure works both ways.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 685.

    If you want to know why the protests must continue and grow, read Roger Bootle's eloquent and informed article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15465538
    Then go and support the protesters.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 684.

    What a terrible shame that St. Pauls part of our National Heritage who charge people to visit a house of God themselves put financial gain over the needs of the less well off in Society.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 683.

    Mark 11:15-19 Then Jesus went into the temple, threw out everyone who was selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the money­changers’ tables and the chairs of those who sold doves. He told them,“It is written, ‘My house is to be called a house of prayer,’ but you are turning it into a hideout for bandits!”
    Is money God? the Canon has my full support for making a stand.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 682.

    The_Gambler. How did Trade Unions gain recognition? How did universal suffarage come about? How did the American Civil Rights movement win their cause? How did the Egyptians, Algerians etc. overthrow their despotic leaders?

    By people who were ready, willing and able to protest against these injustices, often laying their own lives on the line in the process.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 681.

    It must be remembered that the 'Church' are the people - The people on the steps of St Paul's are very happy indeed, and its all about happiness at the end of the day.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 680.

    663.
    Tiffany

    Day before yesterday I think it was, I placed four postings through the day asking if any of my fellow contributors were taking part in theoccupation. Didnt have one come forward, not one . Something to be ashamed of is there? Fear of scrutiny?

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 679.

    This is a very British affair. No cars burnt or governments falling. Just a peaceful protest and a bit of a health and safety issue. I'm glad I live in a country where people can protest without being shot at by the security services. I only wish the church could solve the access problem. Can the people who want the demonstrators to be hosed away please move to Syria or North Korea?

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 678.

    If indeed so many of these protester aare unemployed / don’t work (which I doubt any way), isn’t it commendable that they spend some of their time protesting for a good cause? After all, they could lie around at home, drinking and watching Jeremy Kyle, and, God forbid, procreate!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 677.

    670.Dominic
    3 Minutes ago
    648.Graham
    "So 72% of them were out of work and not contributing to society?"

    And? I've been out of work at times. During those times wasn't I allowed to have an opinion on how the economy is run?
    - Fair point, but you weren't specifically being used as an example of a non-sponger, as was the case in the post I was responding to

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 676.

    I'm glad to see there is at least one senior person in the Church of England with a conscience.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 675.

    @627 The Gambler

    "Did civilisation progress through people sitting on steps, doing nothing?"

    I presume you mean people protesting, and the answer would be yes.

    I won't insult your intelligence by explaining further - as you regularly suggest to those of us ignorant of the finer mechanisms of economics, read a book.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 674.

    @660 Mrwobbles - Which world would you rather live in then; one without mathematicians or one without cleaners...?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 673.

    What the church wont tell you is how much they make a day!

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 672.

    The_Gambler

    When the welfare state was formed, people planned it."

    After years of protest, often violent, and struggle to establish Unions and from that form the Labour party who created it. The 'establishment', far from waking up one day and saying "I know, lets be fair and create a welfare state' fought tooth and nail against it, even when the ballot box had shown them they were out of touch

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 671.

    660.

    People who spend years studying physics/maths are never going to secure a career paying them fortunes. Science and engineering are not well paid. Maybe they just want to unravel mysteries and find cures for the buzz of enhancing humankind.

    Without cleaners we'd be kneedeep in rubbish. Without bankers/traders, we'd be without people making profits buying/selling the efforts of others

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 670.

    648.Graham
    "So 72% of them were out of work and not contributing to society?"

    And? I've been out of work at times. During those times wasn't I allowed to have an opinion on how the economy is run?

  • rate this
    +71

    Comment number 669.

    The protestors moved their camp when they realised it was causing problems and you can see quiet clearly from the photo that there is a large open area by the entrance. What is all of the fuss about? I don't know if these people will achieve anything but at least they are making a very visible complaint about what the banks have done to this country. It is far more than the politicians have done.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 668.

    can't wait for the canon to protest too, then the church would look even more ridiculous. someone point out they've been protesting 2,000 years already and take away their churches too.

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 667.

    the adult babies are "wahh"-ing. soon enough dad (government) will have to intervene if the cries become loud enough.

    believe that your farts smell not so bad, and eventually you'll believe every fart your brain exhales; then eventually you'll forget to maintain a single standard for yourself and everyone else; and eventually you'll get mixed in with a crown of fellow fart-enablers = london.

 

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