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. MK

    They part that annoys me the most is the fact that the protestors don't seem to care at all about the rights of others. They have no right whatsoever to take over that church and make it so that people do not want to enter it. The church is losing visitors and donations....and they need both to keep themselves going. But, instead the protestors think only of themselves and then slam the church for not bowing down to them. If you have something to say...get a permit and legally assemble somewhere and speak your piece. Stop your selfish ways of invading others space! You don't speak for all of us...some of us are hard-working middle class folks who never sought hand outs and pay for what we want. And, for the OWS people who want the gov't to forgive your student loans- What?!! You want the gov't to bail out your debt, but you are mad as h*ll that they helped the banks. LOL you HIPPIE-crites! You applied for those loans, you got your education..now, you must pay for it like us grown-ups did. In fact, I paid off 2! It's time to grow up. Really want to do something to change the world? Stop shouting and singing all hours of the day & night and try thinking about creating industry in your country. Work together to create opportunities for jobs...ways to keep jobs and not have them out-sourced. Ways to keep unions from owning the country..so everything doesn't have to be manufactured elsewhere. In fact, you should probably start there! So, if you REALLY want a better future it's time to pack up your drums,tents and your whole pajama party and help make some real progress.

    October 28, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Ambrogino

      I enjoy the fact that your statement only pertains to you. The truly self-obsessed are always entertaining...

      So, when did you graduate college? Are you aware that the cost of education has increased drastically over the years while income has remained flat of declined.

      October 28, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  2. John Gabriel

    Who cares about stupid clerics? They should all be burned at the stake. Religion should be banned. It is a deadly poison threatening the survival of the human species. Evens HIV/AIDs is not as dangerous as religion.

    October 28, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  3. James

    I am a bit concerned with the Occupiers and the Pro-Occupy crowd stating that they must be allowed to do what they are doing or there might be violence. I believe that the threat of violence negates any legitimacy that their movement may have.

    October 28, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Dan

      This is Europe. There are no such things as completely peaceful protests!

      October 28, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Thieknikor

      Amen to that brother!

      October 28, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Thieknikor

      my reply was to James BTW.

      October 28, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Ambrogino

      You make that statement likes it's legitamite. No peaceful demonstrations enacted any change in history without the threat of violence or the appeareance of violence.

      MLK had Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party, Apartheid had protests, Ghandi created the paranoia in the British empire that made them think about a costly revolution, The American revolution, Vietman protests, I can go further back if you want...

      The truth is the ruling class will never relenquish power unless the thought of being stripped of their power is outwieghed by compromise.

      October 28, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  4. Barry G.

    At least there’s one sensible person at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

    Well done Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser.

    I suggest that the others at St. Paul’s consider opening and reading their Bibles. I suggest they begin by reading Matthew, chapters 5-7, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

    “Let justice flow like a river, let righteous flow like a stream.” –Isaiah

    October 28, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  5. Scott Kenan

    God bless Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser!!! OOOPS! - He already has. See: http://scottkenan.blogspot.com/2011/10/thank-god-for-wilmington-nc-journal-our.html .

    October 28, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  6. KeithTexas

    As these protest continue everyone will have to take sides. I am hoping that there are enough good men in America that only a few will not have to die. We either die now or die on the alter of corporate profits later as always the choice of free men or slaves.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • Kelly


      October 28, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  7. Dean

    The flea-baggers need to give up, go home (someone's home), and take showers. Let the four-legged rats back in the parks. Where's PETA on this?

    October 28, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • grumpy

      Youn spelled it wrong... it's "tea"-baggers

      October 28, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • thunderbolt_lightning@yahoo.com

      Actually, your both wrong. This has nothing to do with the tea party. They demonstrate but they don't destroy or become violent. Do some research...........

      October 28, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • borysd

      At least they don`t carry guns like the tea baggers!

      October 28, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Kelly

      Ick. You're stealing line from that cross-dressing freak, Ann Coulter. That's like stealing clothes worn by a corpse.

      October 28, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  8. s.timmons

    when western countries protest it is portrayed as wrongheaded, misled, misinformed individuals who are misfits of society that need to be dispersed and arrested, but when the middle east, and asia protest the western world supports it wholeheartedly, even the violent protest which has overthrown gov.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Alex in Bremerton, WA

      AWESOME hypocrisy alert!!!

      October 29, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  9. Zeb50

    These protesters are only fed up with the way their own elected officials have let them down. Take the oil companies that have allowed the price of gas and heating oil to remain at a point they were at when crude oil was $140 per barrel even though now it’s $80 a barrel. At that price gas should be back down to $2.50 a gallon and heating oil at $2.30 a gallon. Why have the elected officials done this, to keep the tax revenue up to support all the benefits they've bestowed on themselves. This is no different than the corrupt CEO'S and Directors that keep them do to banks and corporations. Take a look at Exxon’s huge 41% profit increase. Wonder why? Look at congress retirement and medical benefits then our tax bill vs. our medical that voted to allow us. Take a look at the raises they gave social security people vs. what they voted themselves. I hope the protesters do bring about a good form of change and more elected official responsibility, and corporate responsibility

    October 28, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  10. Reality

    Dear St. Paul's Cathedral,

    Please post this prayer on all your doors:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


    October 28, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • The Real Reality

      Some people will never be advanced enough to accept the truth underneath, without the mask of myth that lets them in slowly. Others will always take advantage of that lack of true understanding. It has always been that way. It always will be. It has always been a part of reality and human psychology and must be considered in the scientific study of human actions.

      No amount of debunking the current mythology methods of getting at the truth, will ever succede in removing such mythhologie as vehicles towards understanding the great unknown. Another one or version of the same will always arise to replace the old.

      Until science is capable of explaining everything in simple terms that everyone can understand, there will always be a need by common people for such myths, to make as much sense of life as they can. True reality will always remain beyond the reach of most people's understanding.

      Science will never know everything, much less be able to have everyone understand it. Like science the vehicles people use to understand life will always consist of various incomplete methods depending on the life experience of those involved.

      All these methods of understanding truth must be utilized to provide the best world possible for all and we must always be wary of any who wish to desire control of the narrative to only their own benefit; regardless of what discipline or lack there of they hail from.

      Understand why and you will be better able to help.

      October 28, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Kelly

      Really–Relevance of your comments to this story? I'm not sure about the Biblical narratives–The stories may be true, they may not be–Certainly none of us is wise enough to say for sure. So don't be so confrontational with your beliefs (or lack thereof).

      October 28, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Reality

      It is called the Infamous Angelic Con:

      Joe Smith had his Moroni.

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      Some added references to "tink-erbells".

      "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Apparently hallu-cinations did not stop with Joe Smith.


      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      October 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Well

      Its great that you are aware of these deceptions, and wish to inform others of short comings they may be unprepared reconcile, in a way that productively suits the needs of their life. So what solutions do you realistically offer others, who have so much less knowledge in these matters? At some point, doesn't it just become rediculous, like an advanced physisist who might become irrationally angry at everyone who lacks the precise understandings that they have sacrficed and worked so hard to learn?....or the outstanding athlete who becomes a team manager and fails miserably at the job because rather than accepting and using the talents at hand, they unrealistically expect all their players to perform every task as well as they did. If you want to speak of reality, you have to accept and productively deal with all its imperfections.

      October 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Reality

      Eliminating some added imperfections:

      • There probably was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • There probably was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      October 29, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • Look Inside

      Some are blind not because they can not see, but because they will not.

      October 29, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  11. TheFatherofLies

    "In the name of Mammon, I command you to go." Awesome. 😀

    October 28, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  12. SamSite

    Wow, St. Pauls could stand up to the bombs of the Nazi Blitz of 1940, but can’t take a few poor people camping out on its steps in 2011. Times have changed.

    October 28, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  13. leciat

    yeah all our problems is the fault of the evil greedy rich 1% who put profit before people, just look at all those evil greedy 1% in north dakota that have doubled and tripled rent in order to make a profit over the peoples need for housing.

    October 28, 2011 at 7:14 am |
  14. paul genovese

    Wow, the London Mayor Boris Johnson said “In the name of God and Mammon, go.” Well jesus in the holy bible says you cannot serve two masters. U can't sereve god and mammon. What a wicked man. He's words speak for himself how evil he is!

    October 28, 2011 at 4:20 am |
  15. Tony

    You know, Its sad that you would show the OWS london, but not hte soldier in OWS oakland who got shot. I hope you know that CNN will pay for this type of coraporatocracy.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:07 am |
    • YU


      The top two stories are about the violence in Oakland and Scott Olson. I support OWS, but let's not make up stuff for rhetoric.

      October 28, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  16. augustghost

    This cleric is a major dude...hats off to him

    October 28, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  17. Andrew

    Anti-capitalist? What the hell? Ok, if the choice is between 'capitalism', which apparently means 'the rich control a vastly disproportionate amount of power and influence compared to the poor', and a system where everyone has an equal shot, I'd choose the latter. But I do like many aspects of capitalism, I don't believe that 'the rich get to socialize their own losses while everyone else has to pay for their own losses' is required for capitalism. The occupy movement doesn't seem very anti-capitalist to me. Very anti-corruption and corporate greed, so I suppose if you consider capitalism corruption and corporate greed, your definition sounds pretty scary.

    When will people learn that no, CNN is not some 'liberal propaganda machine'?

    October 28, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • John Richardson

      Exactly, the problem isn't capitalism per se, but the perversions of it that allow the rich to get bailed out while others get clobbered. There have been MANY examples over the years of speculators and other financiers getting bailed out that are the very opposite of capitalism. Where there is no risk, there should be no reward.

      October 28, 2011 at 5:20 am |
    • John


      Thanks for saying exactly what I feel.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • Pythonman

      Anti-capitalist v.s. anti-corruption... Hum why didn't someone think of this before. Madoff wouldn't made off with so much of our cash. Eventually we find cracks in the "System of the 1%", fraud, embezzelment, ponzy schemes. Very little of what's stolen is ever returned. Can't very well as the Rolls Royce dealership to give back $200,000 Madoff spent there 15 years ago. The old law of economics don't work any more because the 1% of the Earth's population is still 4,000,000 people. That small number with all that cash can change markets very quickly. Spread it around, pay off the bills, let everyone have a little extra security as opposed to none at all and the squatters will go away. I'd remind the "1% percent" there are 99 times more of us than you. You can't hide your mistakes any longer and keep what you've already thrown away. We are tired of providing a quality of life you've become accustom to. Your dirty deals have to stop.

      October 28, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  18. Beefburger

    Was Jesus a capitalist?

    October 28, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • KCArrowhead

      That would have been a neat trick, seeing as they didn't exist at the time

      October 28, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • Alex in Bremerton, WA

      His mortal step-dad, Joseph the carpenter, was a capitalist!

      October 28, 2011 at 4:04 am |
    • Pshaw


      Heheh! With that abundant supply of lumber in the Israeli DESERT, he must've been REAL successful, eh?

      October 28, 2011 at 4:09 am |
    • Allen


      The roman empire was the first capitalist empire, historical fact. It was also the reason for the rise and fall of thier great empire. It was the actions of the people that controlled the wealth that ended the empire and resulted in the poorer to revolt and allow the empire to become overrun by germanic barbarians with the poor perfering death over serving greedy unappreciative rich masters.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Alex in Bremerton, WA

      The holy land wasn't all desert or people couldn't live there. The inerrant word of the god of the Christian bible specifically states that Joseph was a carpenter. BTW, Lebanon was famous for their cedar trees until they were all cut down. (That is why there is a cedar tree on their national flag.) How else did the Phoenicians build their boats? Please! Read some history before you make ignorant comments!!!

      October 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  19. Alex in Bremerton, WA

    Oh my Goddess! A Christian willing to resign to defend his principles! It is almost enough to renew my respect for Christianity!

    October 28, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • gps137

      Europe: where Christians are still Christ-like.

      October 28, 2011 at 3:33 am |
  20. Aaron

    What does the author mean...anti-capitalist? Anti-corruption would be a better term. Sounds like a right-wing attempt to paint the protesters as communists, when the actual issue is the amount of power that banks and other corporations have over elected officials.

    October 28, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • Puck

      Well, I mean, you can be anti-Capitalist without being Socialist or Communist. All three systems are based in materialism, and as we have seen this past century, Keynesian reins on the powers that be do not work. Maybe there is a different philosophical way that entails the cessation of money and power as raisons d'etre. Perhaps, within the next 20-50 years, we will be able to use robots and computers to serve each of us to the extent that we can all have all our needs and wants addressed. But to get there we would have to have a worldwide shift away from this hoarding mentality that dominates. We actually produce and reap enough resources from this planet to feed, house, clothe and entertain everyone to the fullest without anyone having to "work." The problem is the few want to hoard the excesses to themselves.

      October 28, 2011 at 2:30 am |
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About this blog

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.