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

    Comment number 706.

    Quite a few posting here in support of the protest have used words from the Bible.

    Can someone point to any postings against the protest that use words from the bible? (The number of the post would be helpful).

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    It's a great shame he has resigned

    It strikes me that the true Christians, now including him, are outside the building

    Fancy buildings and repetitous empty prayers mean nothing. They are just a historical artifact like a zoo

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    Democracy fighters camp will stay there for as long as it takes until we have got real democracy in Britian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    I find it amusing that the biggest losers from this protest appears to be St Paul's Cathedral in general and the main employee there who let them stay outside it. At some point something has got to give and if the protesters continue hurting innocent bystandards and their friends things are soon going to get very hard for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    RedRebel54 "By people who were ready, willing and able to protest against these injustices, often laying their own lives on the line in the process."

    Oh do come on,does this lot look ready to lay down their lives for anything? They wont even spend the chilly nights in their tents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    i am a banker and i work in the city. the protesters aren't a bad bunch of people to be fair, some of them regularly say hello to me. there is a lot of corruption and greed out there, it does need to be addressed. but there is no way on gods green earth i will be made to feel guilty about what i do. i go to work, pay taxes and abide by the law, end of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    Are we writing off the Greeks because we have now realised that democracy doesn't work against capitalism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    It is a great shame that the Cannon has resigned. He was obviously the truest Christian working at the cathedral.
    A great part of Christianity is about supporting the weak from the ravages of the rich and powerful. We should all be following Jesus's idea here. The Money system has impoverished the many and is damaging the Earth while some people are getting super rich. OLSX is good not bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    We all know why the downturn occurred and we have all been affected in some way. Public & private sector are trying to address it and these measures are either supported or not depending on your opinion. So what is achieved by sitting outside St Paul's? Is that not blatantly obvious that we are in a mess and it needs sorting? Without specific demands how can any protest be measured a success?

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    Interesting split on here, in terms of ratings / views.

    I personally cannot quite see his point in resigning. Is he now camped outside with the protestors?
    Surely it would have been better to support them from within St. Paul's?

    If he wanted to resign on principle, surely he should have done so a long time ago?

    The protest is small, and I fear his resignation will have a similar effect ie none

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    The Church is a great corporation with huge assets assets – billions of pounds invested in property, oil, and currencies all over the world - which pays no taxes. The latest accounts show that in the past year the 114 Bishops spent over £23.5 million on themselves and £5.7 million on their "palaces". Unwittingly the protestors seem to have hit the right target!

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    660.mrwobbles - yes because you were selfish enough to take on that persuit.

    just because society holds more monetary stock in such activities currently; does not mean to say that that creates an equilibrium or even a system.

    a system implies this whole thing favours everyone; which it does not.

    what is actually wrong with socialism; other than it having that "conspiracy" whiff to it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    682. RedRebel54
    "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?"

    All issues with clearly-defined goals.
    Unlike the mass of hippies camping in London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    671. Mickey_Fong
    People who spend years studying physics/maths are never going to secure a career paying them fortunes
    Err hate to break it to you, but most of those bankers earning stratospheric salaries studied mathematics. Physics doesnt pay so well but still far above the average salary.

    @TheSkyIsBlue being a messy mathematician, I could live without cleaners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    Every one has a right to protest in a peaceful manner. The church, on the other hand, is making money . I always thought I could walk into a church for nothing, but I can never do that with St Pauls ! I have no time for religion in General yet my support goes to the protest movement. I just think they have picked the wrong place however who am I to question them !

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    "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"

    and where the government says we have a voice but it doesnt listen.
    I cant imagine these protests having more influence than those of the students or even bigger, those of no war to Iraq.

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    @556 - what EXACTLY are the protestors against?

    Remember the film "The Wild One" in which Brando was asked what was he rebelling against? He responded "What have you got?" The actual cause being supported is generally irrelevant to most of the Rent-a-Mob that turn up for these demos. For them, "The media is the massage", to adapt Marshall McLuhan's dictum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    I dislike self centred people who believe that they are more important than the rest of us, that their needs are paramount and that they can do what they want while others are left to suffer the consequences. The Bankers - maybe? The demonstrators - definitely! They should pack up and go back home to daddy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    "The cathedral's dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, said on Wednesday that officials were considering all options in response to the protest, including legal action"

    And in saying this has lost the Church of England far more than just financial gain

    If more proof were needed just how antiquated & out of touch touch the church really is with the people and the problems they face today


  • rate this

    Comment number 687.


    Dah dum, ting!


    Someone's economic circumstances shouldn't have any bearing on their ability to express opinions in any way, protest included, about society. Taking your view to its logical conclusion, rich people should have twice as many votes as poor people if they contribute double the amount to society via taxes...


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