London

St Paul's protest camp: Bishop calls for no violence

  • 30 October 2011
  • From the section London
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There is "no use for violent confrontation" with protesters outside St Paul's Cathedral, the Bishop of London has said.

Dr Richard Chartres met demonstrators camped outside to discuss their views.

In an address Dr Chartres told protesters, who fear forcible removal, he shared many of their concerns on corporate greed.

However, he stopped short of agreeing to protesters' demands for a promise not to support eviction.

Legal action to clear the camp is being taken but that process could take months to complete.

'Benefit of the doubt'

"I have spoken to police and... I do not think we are on the inevitable road to violence," said Dr Chartres.

"Getting the legal situation clear is probably a sensible precautionary measure."

St Paul's reopened on Friday after closing for a week, for the first time since WWII, because of health and safety concerns of cathedral authorities.

Dr Chartres had a frank exchange with protesters

Lucy, one of the protesters, welcomed the speech but said they needed a promise from the church that they would not be forcibly removed.

"We need more of a guarantee that this is not going to happen," she told BBC News.

"That means me being dragged out of my tent in the night, my hair being pulled - we need a cast iron guarantee from the church this will not happen."

Asked whether the church was doing what Jesus would have done, she said: "I hope they will strive to do so.

"I give them the benefit of the doubt."

Cathedral authorities are offering the protesters' group, also known as Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX), the chance to hold a public debate in the church.

Chancellor's resignation

However, they want them to clear the camp before this takes place.

A number of Church of England figures have criticised the way in which the situation has been handled by St Paul's authorities.

Their decision to begin the eviction process prompted Dr Giles Fraser to step down as canon chancellor, on Thursday.

It was Canon Fraser who told police to allow the protesters to set up camp outside the cathedral on 15 October after they had been prevented from camping by the London Stock Exchange in privately-owned Paternoster Square near St Paul's.

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