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London cleric resigns amid Occupy cathedral protest
Protestors camped near St. Paul's Cathedral have prompted the church to close for the first time since World War II.
October 27th, 2011
11:50 AM ET

London cleric resigns amid Occupy cathedral protest

By Erin McLaughlin and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

LONDON (CNN) - A senior figure at London's landmark St. Paul's Cathedral stepped down Thursday, apparently over concerns that it planned to evict anti-capitalist protesters camped outside.

Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser had been supportive of the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest camp, the presence of which led the cathedral to close its doors last week for the first time in decades.

"It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St. Paul's Cathedral," Fraser said on Twitter Thursday, but did not give a reason why.

However, he told the London Evening Standard newspaper he was stepping down from a post he had held since 2009 because he believed the cathedral was set on a course of action that "may lead to violence."

The Dean of St. Paul's, the Right Rev. Graeme Knowles, said the cathedral would be "very sorry to see him go" but did not elaborate on his decision.

A statement on the Occupy London website said the protesters were "deeply moved" by Fraser's resignation.

"From the moment Occupy London arrived at St. Paul's Churchyard he respected our right to protest and defended it," it said.

"For that we are very grateful, as he ensured that St. Paul's could be a sanctuary for us and that no violence could take place against peaceful protesters with a legitimate cause - challenging and tackling social and economic injustice in London, the UK and beyond."

Cathedral leaders are expected to make a decision later on whether St. Paul's, a major tourist attraction and historic center of worship in the heart of London's financial district, will reopen Friday.

Knowles said Wednesday he was optimistic the cathedral might be able to reopen after changes to the way the tent city, which sprang up outside 12 days ago, was laid out.

"The staff team here have been working flat out with the police, fire brigade and health and safety officers to try to ensure that we have confidence in the safety of our worshippers, visitors and staff which will allow us to reopen," he said in a statement.

Knowles said St. Paul's believed in the right to peaceful protest but had asked the protesters to move on peacefully. It was consulting lawyers on measures it could take, including court action, he said.

Last Friday, the dean said the cathedral, which normally welcomes thousands of visitors each day, would be closed until further notice because of "practical and safety issues," including a fire risk from stoves used by those camping out.

The Evening Standard quoted London Mayor Boris Johnson Thursday as calling for new laws to prevent tent cities "erupting like boils" across London, and telling the activists: "In the name of God and Mammon, go."

A separate piece written by the Bishop of London, Dr. Richard Chartres, for the newspaper said the reopening of St. Paul's would be a victory for common sense.

He urged the protesters to disband, saying their original message had been all but lost amid media reports on other aspects of the protest. St. Paul's would organize a debate on the issue if they left peacefully, he offered.

St. Paul's Cathedral, designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren, was built between 1675 and 1710. A church has stood on the site near the banks of the River Thames for more than 1,400 years.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Leaders • United Kingdom

soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Moderation and Balace

    Capitalism was never meant as a license to steal. No one seems to remember the robber barons of the late 1800's and the pain they eventually caused, resulting in unions, anti-monopoly laws, the depression and the necessary regulations to keep it from happening again; which were recently so unwisely removed, so we could do it all again.

    Last time a revolution was averted by some balanced compromises and the realization, that neither extreme capitalism nor extreme socialism/communism was desirable. It may not always work out that way though. There were other results like the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions. Lets hope we don't reach that point.

    Rule number one in business that corporations seem to have forgotten:

    What is bad for your customer base is bad for your corporation. If you no longer have anyone to sell to, you can't remain in business. You have therefore at that point failed at your job.

    It may be good fun to take more than your share of the money until you have no one left to sell to. Then you eventually have to eat your riches and hope the 99% don't have to resort to that Aerosmith song... "Eat the Rich". Stay in your bubble, close your eyes, do nothing to set things right........ just keep blaming your victims as being lazy, stupid etc. and see how long it lasts.

    If you are the only company cutting workers, staff, pay and benefits, perhaps you can make an edge for your corporation's growth. However, if all corporations do that, you eventually reach a point where workers can't possibly purchase enough goods and services to keep you in business. The main pupose of business is to sell enough goods and services, so you can make profits for your share holders. If all you see your worker as are expenses, you'll reach a point where you no longer have enough customers to keep you in business. That will eventually make the socialism you hate more and more of a nessecity. Your actions should produce your desired results and remove the need for such increased socialism, by making it possible for people to work for a living wage.

    There is only a limited number of the 1%. Only so much food, oil, etc. that the 1% can actually use. You must get back to keeping your customer base in mind and growing it to support your corporate dreams.

    When you wreck your business at your shareholders expense, are you only doing so, knowing you have a great golden parachute? How long will it be before the share holders realize you are cutting their throats too before you run on to the next corporation to trash, or to your ill gotten gains to save your own throat for now?

    There will come a time when the 99% has truly had enough. Then your money or the bought goverment won't protect you. It would be better to make things work more reasonably for all, before we reach that point.

    Moderation and Balance. People should profit honestly from their labors. We shouldn't just share everything equally, but the compensation need to be more equitable than it has been the last 30 years. There's no good reason the 1% deserves 7 times the increases the 99% get. None. No one does anything to earn that much of a difference.

    Bank robbers aren't aloud to clain they are just innovating entreprenuers or that laws/regulations need to be removed so they can do a better job of robbing banks. Neither should the 1%. Its quite frankly, at this point, a very lame talking point. Just like the "class warfare" accusation, after you've waged it already undercover for years and wrecked the country by taking so much more than what was deserved.. Wake up. We have.

    October 28, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • stay calm and carry on

      I love this entire comment.

      October 28, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  2. edvhou812

    Anti-Capitalist = I suck at capitalism.

    October 28, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  3. Aacon

    The world has been done wrong for too long.It is time people of the world protest the wrongness .If the people go about it the right way to bring a real change to how the world operates I say join the cause . First demands must be made then changes will come.For the people are the ones who put leaders in power.The people must put themselves in power from the ranks of themselves who know how to run new Government policies.Else the movement will fade.Punt the leaders ,then put the right people from within the ranks of those in the movement in all Government offices.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  4. Brian

    Why do we even have churches? Jesus didn't need one for the Sermon On The Mount.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Aacon

      Brian : The world is just a church we all cannot help but attend while living.That is how I see it .

      October 28, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  5. thes33k3r

    Please allow me to take this opportunity to officially announce the formation of a new world-wide Christian megachurch organization and the simultaneous formation of numerous affiliate groups and organizations with the express intent of bringing more of the world's population to the knowlege of Jesus Christ's love. We seek to spread the good word that not only is the U.S. a Christian nation, but the whole world will be too.

    One of the most important goals of our organization is to take every step necessary to preserve the innocence of young children by shielding them from the horrors of a secular worldview. In this effort, we will be sponsoring the outstanding and centuries-long Catholic Church endeavor known as the Roman Archdiocesan Priests Initiative to Save The Schoolchildren. This program has touched the lives of so many people that they are truly innumerable. We are proud to be affiliated with a program that is so widely-known and has had such a profound effect in practically every country in the world.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Rob S.

      we welcome your christlike behavior, but will eat your religion......religions are man's failed attempts to de scribe God, which will always be bigger than any de scription.....it is time for religions to die natural deaths, and from their musky compost, a new rising of wakefulness, cooperation, trust, and love......

      October 28, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  6. John

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dz59JANSdg&w=640&h=360]
    .

    October 28, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  7. carla

    My favorite comments are the ones that inspire people to help each other. I totally agree that if we are going to congregate on the streets, lets start helping those living on the streets. We are going to need to help each other. Maybe this is a tipping point for all of us.30 years ago, it was common for people to gather on the weekends and help feed the poor, invite them over, give them clothing, etc;, Let's set the example for the next generation. We can do this. The 1 %'ers say we are asking for handouts. No, we are looking for work, not min. wage jobs when you have a college degree. The churches used to be a place that helped but they don't have the parishioners they used to have, therefore the money in the collection plates are down. We all have something in our closets that just sit there, never to be worn again. Start gathering them up folks. Let's help these people by giving them a chance. It's easy to get stuck. The Corporations are not going to do it unless it's a great write off for them. We can do it out of being civilly responsible people. Get to know some people less fortunate people than yourself and maybe, if they are willing, help them start getting a hold of their lives. WE CAN DO IT. One last thing. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get out and vote next year. If you see a tv campaign ad, shut if off. THey are spending so much money during campaigns that it's almost sad. I would vote in a heartbeat for anyone that gave their donations to a program to help the poor and middle class WITHOUT it having to be labeled as a write off. Give from the heart.......Thank you

    October 27, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  8. BlackDynamiteNYC

    His integrity and ideals are to be respected and admired
    BD

    October 27, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  9. Dixie AZ

    I respect the faith of those who are Catholic, but the body of the church is upside down. Always has been. The Pope lives in a palace as a king while millions of the faithful around the world starve and suffer.

    October 27, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Common Sense MD

      Hey Dixie AZ, get your facts straight. St. Paul's Cathedral in London falls under the Church of England, not the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, the Church of England split from the RCC in a dispute over where Henry VIII should be able to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. I know it's in vogue to bad mouth the RCC and the Pope, but you should have checked your facts before exposing your ignorance. Remember, it is better to keep your mouth closed and let them think you a fool than to open it up and prove them right.

      October 27, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  10. 6nonymous

    We are tired of our government being hijacked by corporations who spend millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign donations so that they can get a government that won’t regulate them and allows them to cause all kinds of chaos for everyone else.

    So we the people have decided to take our government back. Goldman-Sachs donated over $2 million to political campaigns in 2010. Boeing did the same. Why do you think they did that? They are businesses, so what’s their bottom line? And how many people do you know who can donate millions of dollars to political campaigns every two years?

    Some people are exerting more than their fair share of influence on our government, and we are going to make it stop. Do the math. We have the numbers to make it stop. One percent of our population is using their financial resources to unfairly gain more than one percent of the control of our government. So we the 99 percent have decided to use the power of our numbers to turn things around.

    I believe that the demands we are making are simple and reasonable. But I also believe that the government will not meet any of them. Instead we will enter a cycle of the people demanding and the government refusing to listen. The government is not going to back down. That should be very clear to everyone. The corporations are in control, and they are not going to give up control just because we ask them to.

    The question is whether the people will back down from their demands. I hope they will not. I hope instead that our protests will grow larger and larger as the government refuses to acknowledge our demands. But eventually our protests will grow so large that the government will become paranoid and fearful and will start lashing out at us with violence.

    Our response to this should be to remain peaceful and nonviolent, but the actions of the government will cause our protests to grow at a faster rate. And the government will grow more and more paranoid and fearful and will lash out at us with more and more extreme violence. But we will remain peaceful and nonviolent throughout. Our protests will continue to grow, and the government will continue strike at us again and again and again, until eventually we will have no choice but to defend ourselves. But this is a long, long way off.

    I would so much prefer that the government just cede to our demands. It would be so much easier for everyone involved. But that’s just not going to happen. And the people are not going to back down from their demands. So we move inevitably down the path laid out before us. It could be so easy if the corporations would just give up their control over our government. But they insist on doing things the hard way.

    October 27, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Imam al-Mahdi

      The world we live in can be a scary place. Every day it seems that analysts warn of impending disasters – whether in the form of crumbling economies or food shortages, global climate change, weapons of mass destruction and so much more. Most of us have enough to worry about just taking care of our own families, let alone trying to do something to benefit others, and for those of us who try to make the world a better place – none of us know where to start. Even our leaders seem incapable of fixing the problems facing our world today.
      As times become harder and harder for the average person to make ends meet and provide for our loved ones, we've taken to the streets in protest. Whether its the Arab Spring, the riots in England or now the Occupy Wall Street movement, there is no denying our lack of patience with the world today. We are fed up and ticked off and we're showing the world we are not going to take it anymore. But what are we saying to the 1%, really? Are we promoting civil responsibility, or just spreading our anger? Are we stomping out the flame, or just adding another log to the fire? Are we creating solutions, or are we just another part of of the problem? This is not how we fix our world – through hate.
      Changing the world is not difficult, but it takes all of us. If we want to fix the problem, it is up to us to become the solution. If we want to fix the world, all we need to do is inspire people to care about each other once again, especially the 1%. How do we do this, you ask? Easy. Instead of a picket sign, occupy Wall Street with a grill and some tailgate supplies. Invite all the homeless to come down and join us for burgers and ribs like it was a Sunday afternoon and we're ready for some football. While you're at it, bring with you some old clothes you don't wear anymore – and some blankets. Help those who are less fortunate than us to survive yet another cold and bitter winter, and invite the executives in their corner offices to come join us as well.
      If we want to fix the world, all it takes is a little Love. All we gotta do is show the 1% that we take responsibility for each other – and we won't have to ask them to do the same for us – because we will inspire them to follow our lead. That's how we change the world, but I cannot do it alone, nor can you. It takes all of us. So spread the word, start marinatin' those ribs and get ready to start cloggin' up some arteries like only a good 'ol fashion American barbeque can, because we – the 99% – we are the world, therefore we are the solution. Peace be upon you all, and plus one for the heroes!

      October 27, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • G-D

      6nonymous

      Although your heartfelt words are worthy of praises, they fall upon the many with little as yet fanfair. As government forces soon face the occupying masses, the fascism of many governments' police will raise their ugliness to throw apart the many who are wanting a peaceful rallying and the choices the masses will soon face will end the right of people to assemble peacefully. Only with the masses who keep peaceful their demonstrations and are challenged by federalism's forces and then are thrown in jail can there be wanton changes regarding the 99% of people who are against the 1% with the money. I would love to be part of the occupy movements and am looking into it. May GOD light the ways for those many masses who are repressed by the 1% who own most of the corporations and banks and businesses.

      October 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  11. DN3

    1400 years? Churches haven't been around for that long. Temples yes.

    October 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Melissa

      Churches have, in fact, been around that long. If you'd read the article, it stated that *a* church has been on that site for 1,400 years. Not St. Paul's, but another structure that pre-dated it.

      York Minster dates back to the 600s. There are churches in Armenia that date to the 400s.

      October 27, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Roger

      Please obtain for yourself a real education. One that includes cultural history.

      October 28, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • adam

      this officially is the third stupidest comment since the last time I reset my count (which was right around the time the tea party fell into obscurity).

      October 28, 2011 at 1:41 am |
  12. maurice_fleckman

    auto correct sucks

    October 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  13. david

    lol keep it up commies, this is backfiring on you

    October 27, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Brian

      I have yet to see that. So far the Occupy Movement has only grown stronger and is spreading like wild fire to every corner of the world. The people are tired of a select few having a large power over their lives and no they did not work for it you silly teabagger. They made their money on the backs of the poor.

      October 27, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  14. maurice_fleckman

    I'm so engourged right now i've never been harder.

    October 27, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  15. Mr Chihuahua

    They can crucify Sting as a peace gesture lol!

    October 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  16. The Continental

    New to the blog – maybe not for long if stories like this are the rule rather than the exception.

    October 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • Sydney Australia

      If you are looking for intelligent debate........... RUN. Do not look back. Close your browser. Go to some other news source because there is no intelligence in these forums.

      October 28, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  17. Soporifix

    The Church is as much to blame for the current problems as Wall Street or The City or Goldman Sachs. The power structure really is scared that this time is it for them.

    October 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  18. Doc Brittle

    Yeah, anti-capitalist.... Good job CNN.

    October 27, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  19. obamamnesty

    Church is worth at a min. $100,000,000,000.00 can you say "evil fatcat" OWS?

    October 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • youhaveissues

      helpless,brainwashed, clueless thanks for representing your kind of people

      October 27, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  20. G-D

    The Evening Standard quoted London Mayor Boris Johnson Thursday as calling for new laws to prevent tent cities "erupting like boils" across London, and telling the activists: "In the name of God and Mammon, go."

    Mayor Johnson, you are such a joke,,,, In the name of God and MAMMON go,,,, what a card player you are,,,,auch a slight bof hand tactician you are. "One cannot serve God and mammon" so bunch em up you sore a$$ reason for being a politician!

    October 27, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.