Showing posts with label St Paul's Cathedral. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St Paul's Cathedral. Show all posts

Monday, May 14, 2012


The two iconic churches, Trinity Church Wall Street in New York, pictured to the left, and St Paul's Cathedral in The City of London, pictured below, have been much on my mind for the past several days.  The famous churches are coincidentally(?) located in the financial districts of the two great cities.  What I've thought of is the face-off between the churches and the Occupy groups in both cities. After a period of time, the authorities in the churches decided that the Occupiers had to go, and the groups were forcibly removed.  The right choice for the churches, to come down on the side of the 99%, seemed stark and obvious to me, but both chose to move against the Occupiers.  These are churches, for heaven's sake, the Body of Christ.

Occupied Bishop George Packard, a retired bishop in the Episcopal Church, gets it.  He joined the Occupiers and has been arrested twice in connection with Occupy protests.

Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, gets it, too.  He resigned his position when the authorities in the church decided to remove Occupy London protestors by force from the grounds around the cathedral.  He now serves as priest-in-charge at St Mary's Newington, a parish in one of the poorer neighborhoods in South London.
The Occupy movement is by no means finished.  Just because the groups are not occupying parks and squares in their tents or marching in protests every day does not mean that they have disappeared.  Disdain for the elite and their absorption in prospering themselves and their near total disregard for the common good will not go away.

Now that this post is written, perhaps I'll be able to move on to other subjects besides the 'Story of the Day'...not that there's anything wrong with the stories, because if I didn't like them, I would not post them.   

Photo of Trinity from Wikipedia.
Photo of St Paul's from Cathedral & History.

UPDATE: An Profile: Bishop Packard

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Excellent video from Mr CatOLick.

The gentlemen in the danse are Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, former Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, Giles Fraser, and former Dean of St Paul's, Graeme Knowles.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


From the website of St Paul's Cathedral:
01 November 2011

The Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral has unanimously agreed to suspend its current legal action against the protest camp outside the church, following meetings with Dr Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, late last night and early this morning.

The resignation of the Dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, has given the opportunity to reassess the situation, involving fresh input from the Bishop. Members of Chapter this morning have met with representatives from the protest camp to demonstrate that St Paul’s intends to engage directly and constructively with both the protesters and the moral and ethical issues they wish to address, without the threat of forcible eviction hanging over both the camp and the church.

It is being widely reported that the Corporation of London plans to ask protesters to leave imminently. The Chapter of course recognises the Corporation’s right to take such action on Corporation land.

The Bishop has invited investment banker, Ken Costa, formerly Chair of UBS Europe and Chairman of Lazard International, to spearhead an initiative reconnecting the financial with the ethical. Mr Costa will be supported by a number of City, Church and public figures, including Giles Fraser, who although no longer a member of Chapter, will help ensure that the diverse voices of the protest are involved in this.

The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, said: "The alarm bells are ringing all over the world. St Paul’s has now heard that call. Today’s decision means that the doors are most emphatically open to engage with matters concerning not only those encamped around the Cathedral but millions of others in this country and around the globe. I am delighted that Ken Costa has agreed to spearhead this new initiative which has the opportunity to make a profound difference.”

The Rt Rev Michael Colclough, Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral and a member of Chapter, added: "This has been an enormously difficult time for the Cathedral but the Chapter is unanimous in its desire to engage constructively with the protest and the serious issues that have been raised, without the threat of legal action hanging over us. Legal concerns have been at the forefront in recent weeks but now is the time for the moral, the spiritual and the theological to come to the fore.”
Of course, the protestors will eventually be forced out, but at least St Paul's will not now be complicit in the action. Better late than never.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

UPDATE: The City of London Corporation presses the pause button:
Stuart Fraser, the City of London Corporation’s Policy Chairman, said today:
‘The Church has changed its standpoint and announced it is suspending legal action on its land.

Given that change, we’ve pressed the ‘pause’ button overnight on legal action affecting the highways – in order to support the Cathedral as an important national institution and give time for reflection.

‘We want to leave more space for a resolution of this difficult issue – while at the same time not backing away from our responsibilities as a Highway Authority.

‘We’re hoping to use a pause – probably of days not weeks – to work out a measured solution.
‘We will make a further announcement tomorrow lunchtime.’
Thanks again to Simon at Thinking Anglicans.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Fraser Dyer, who volunteered as a chaplain at St Paul's Cathedral announced his resignation. He blogs at Kiwianglo's blog.
Since the summer I’ve been a chaplain at St Paul’s Cathedral, one of many London clergy who give half a day a month to being the priest available to the cathedral’s visitors, and to leading prayers on the hour. It is has been immensely enjoyable and interesting to do. Arising from my relationship with the cathedral I’ve been closely following the events arising from the Occupy London protest which pitched camp in the cathedral precinct a fortnight ago. There seemed to be a great deal that was positive and constructive about the dialogue between the protestors and the cathedral. I was therefore very disappointed to learn of today’s announcement that St Paul’s is taking legal action to have the protestors removed. Consequently I have decided to stand down from the pastoral team, and explained my reasons to Michael Colclough, Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral, in an email earlier today (below).
Read the rest of the post, which includes the email which Fr Dyer sent to the Canon Pastor.

Sam Norton, who blogs at Elizaphanian has an excellent post on St Paul's Cathedral and the protest:
I've been pondering this whilst following the events outside St Paul's. There has been much criticism of the Occupy movement for not having 'clear goals' (on which see this great cartoon. That is immediately to try and force the rebellion to conform to the dominant discourse, to be co-opted into the patterns that pose no threat to the establishment. Specific claims will, I do not doubt, follow in due course. For now, however, it is enough for there to be the protest, the rebellion - the saying 'No' to manifest injustice, arrogance, ignorance and greed.
Read it all, and click the links when you get over there.

You may think I'm overdoing the posts on St Paul's, but the situation there is about more than protestors and tents around the famous London cathedral. The leadership at the cathedral was forced to make a choice. Unfortunately, in my opinion, they came down on the wrong side. I hope other churches take lessons from them on what not to do.


An excellent interview. Back to Jesus, where all of us who call ourselves Christians should surely be.

Alan Wilson is Bishop of Buckingham in England and blogs at (Surprise!) Bishop Alan's Blog.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


From the Church Times:
THE reader will, I hope, excuse me if I do not address the complicated issues that currently beset St Paul’s Cathedral. Suffice to say, when you sit in the middle of a storm, and a great deal of misinformation is flying about, you are thrown back on the fundamentals of your faith.

No one ever said that following Jesus would be easy. In fact, as Christians, we are given fair warn­ing that the opposite is likely to be the case. And so it turns out.

But one of the most interesting things about these challenging times is how scripture comes alive. Indeed, I do not remember the Bible ever speaking to me as vividly as it does today. As the saying goes, I don’t read scripture: scripture reads me.

St Paul’s Cathedral takes its name from a man of faith who knew a thing or two about being caught up in an extraordinary whirlwind. May I ask you all to pray for all those who live and work in — and indeed those who are now camped around — this wonderful place? May we all be a beacon of God’s love and mercy in a complicated world.

Having written that sentence, I realise that I have never used a column to ask for prayer. Perhaps, after all, this column is not a clever exercise in issue avoidance. Perhaps for all my years of being a column­ist, it has taken a crisis to show me what I have always wanted to say.
Drawing by Adrian Worsfold who writes at Pluralist Speaks.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

UPDATE: Alan Rusbridger at the Guardian has a wonderful interview with Giles Fraser. No quotes. Just read it all.


Brilliant! This may be Mr CatOLick's best video ever.

Should you have any difficulty at all understanding Mr C's every word, please click the link to his website, where he's posted a transcript, along with the video.


From the BBC:
The canon chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral has resigned from his post.

Dr Giles Fraser has been sympathetic to the Occupy anti-capitalist protest camp outside, which has led to the cathedral's closure.

Dr Fraser said on Twitter: "It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St Paul's Cathedral."

The Dean of St Paul's, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, said he was "sorry to see him go".

St Paul's, which closed last week, could reopen to the public on Friday. A decision will be made later.
Good for Dr Fraser. It's sad that he is no longer in the inner circle of decision-making at St Paul's, but the others probably were not listening to him anyway.

Drawing of Giles Fraser by Adrian Worsfold who writes at Pluralist Speaks and says of Giles Fraser, "His view of the Church was of peace, of bias to the poor and the right to protest." Amen.

Do read Mark Harris' post on Giles Fraser titled 'Canon Giles Fraser, The best of what we can be'.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


From Reuters:
London's St Paul's Cathedral is expected to reopen to the public on Friday, a week after church leaders closed its doors for the first time since World War Two, blaming safety risks posed by anti-capitalism protesters camped outside.

The Dean of St Paul's, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, said he hoped the church would reopen with a service on Friday, subject to a final decision on Thursday.

However, he said he still wanted the protesters to pack up their campsite and that court action was still being considered.
H/T to Peter Carey at The Lead.

As I said at The Lead, 'There now, that wasn't so hard, was it, lads? Once again, the £££ will flow in. Oh, and worshipers can worship.'

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


According to Ann Fontaine at The Lead, the Times in London is reporting that Canon Giles Fraser will resign if the Occupy the Stock Exchange protestors are evicted.
...Dr Giles Fraser, who is responsible for the cathedral’s relations with the financial institutions of the City of London, is understood to be prepared to quit should it take legal action against the 200 tents forming an increasingly permanent-looking settlement on its land.
A resignation from Dr Fraser would make him a martyr for the anti-capitalist cause and prove hugely embarrassing to the cathedral and the Church. If the cathedral does not try to oust the protesters, however, it will be forced into the humiliating position of reopening with the tents still in place, or remaining closed for months — putting events such as the Remembrance Day services at risk and losing the cathedral about £16,000 a day in tourist revenue.
Only subscribers can read the article online.

We'll wait and see how the story develops.

The Guardian editorial titled 'City and cathedral: The whited sepulchre' blasts the dean and chapter of St Paul's Cathedral for threatening an injunction to remove the protestors.
If the dean and chapter continue their steps towards evicting they will be playing the villains in a national pantomime. There will be legal battles and, eventually, physical force. At every step, the cathedral authorities will be acting in the service of absurdity and injustice. Yet this is where the logic of their position is leading them. They must see this, and stop. Jesus denounced his Pharisaic enemies as whited sepulchres, or shining tombs; and that is what the steam-cleaned marble frontage of St Paul's will become if the protesters are evicted to make room for empty pomp: a whited sepulchre, where morality and truth count for nothing against the convenience of the heritage industry.
Ouch! Read it all. I can't say I disagree with the editorial.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

UPDATE: I have to wonder why the members of the staff of the cathedral don't talk to the protestors. It's all open letters and press releases. Good heavens! Go amongst them and talk to them.

UPDATE 2: In the comments, themethatisme, who writes at Conscientisation, but not very often, provides the link to the supporters of St Paul's Cathedral. Verrry interesting. I couldn't find my name or theme's name.


An article in the Telegraph on the Occupy the London Stock Exchange protestors who are camped out on the grounds of the West front of St Paul's Cathedral headlines their story 'A sullied cathedral'. Now at first you may think that the cathedral is sullied by the unwelcoming stance of the staff of the cathedral and the decision to close off the church to all worshipers and visitors, except if you are at all familiar with the newspaper, you'd know better. The writer is shocked...shocked:
So far, there has been a deafening silence from the Anglican hierarchy. Isn’t it time we learnt what the Bishop of London, or even the Archbishop of Canterbury, have to say about this squalid occupation? In a free society, people have a right to demonstrate. They do not have a right to wreak havoc on one of the capital’s most sacred spaces.
Just look at the picture of the squalid rabble in their masks, and costumes, and ramshackle tents. Who would want them hanging around sullying London's most sacred space? Besides St Paul's is losing about £20,000 a day, and if the occupation continues until Christmas, the cathedral stands to lose over a million pounds.

On the other hand

Alison, a Facebook friend, says:
Am not clever enough to join in this debate. All I know is that I walked past St Paul's yesterday and wondered what the hell the Dean & Chapter are making such a ridiculous fuss about. I won't be returning to St Paul's in a hurry (if they open again, that is...). I think their decision to close is making them look more and more stupid (and suspect) by the day...
It's only my humble opinion, of course, but Alison's words seems far cleverer than the the words of the writer in the Telegraph. It's quite sad that St Paul's Cathedral is no longer 'a house of prayer', but it seems to me that the cathedral would stand to lose a lot less money if they'd reopen to worshipers and visitors once again, if not for lofty reasons, in their own self interest.

UPDATE: Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, weighs in on the protests:
A statement by the Bishop of London on the protest outside St Paul's Cathedral.

"This demonstration has undoubtedly raised a number of very important questions. The St Paul's Institute has itself focused on the issue of executive pay and I am involved in ongoing discussions with City leaders about improving shareholder influence on excessive remuneration.

"Nevertheless, the time has come for the protestors to leave, before the camp's presence threatens to eclipse entirely the issues that it was set up to address.
The Dean and the Chapter, who are responsible for St Paul's, have already made it clear that the protest should come to an end and I fully support that view."
(My emphasis)
Bishop Chartres has only the protestors interests at heart. It's not the money or the messy encampment that troubles him.

It strikes me that the issue of the injustice inherent in huge wage disparities is an issue worth pursuing whether the protestors are present at St Paul's or not. Will the St Paul Institute discontinue the discussion of the injustice, if the protesters don't leave? Lame, truly lame.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


From the Guardian:
Officials from St Paul's Cathedral and the wider City district are considering legal action to force protesters to remove a camp set up outside the church more than a week ago, following an impasse between the two sides.

The cathedral has been shut since Friday afternoon after its dean, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, said the presence of more than 200 tents and marquees beside the building's western edge was an unacceptable fire, and health and safety risk. Both he and the cathedral's canon chancellor, Giles Fraser, have publicly urged the activists to leave. It is the first time the cathedral has been closed since the second world war, and church officials say it is costing St Paul's around £20,000 a day in lost visitor revenues.
From the website of St Paul's Cathedral:
The Revd Canon Dr Giles Fraser, Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, issued the following statement today (Saturday 22 October 2011)

"I remain firmly supportive of the right of people peacefully to protest. But given the strong advice that we have received that the camp is making the cathedral and its occupants unsafe then this right has to be balanced against other rights and responsibilities too. The Christian gospel is profoundly committed to the needs of the poor and the dispossessed. Financial justice is a gospel imperative. Those who are claiming the decision to close the cathedral has been made for commercial reasons are talking complete nonsense."
What are the health and safety risks? Why won't the authorities at St Paul's say?

Also from the Guardian:
An impasse between St Paul's Cathedral and the protest camp that has spent eight days at its walls remains deadlocked, with activists saying they will not consider church officials' request for them to move elsewhere until they receive a fuller explanation as to why this is necessary.

Some would-be worshippers were caught out. "We didn't know, so we're very disappointed," said a woman from a visiting American family forced to revise their plans for the day. But most tourists remained largely positive about the Occupy the London Stock Exchange camp, a protest against the perceived excesses of the global financial system.

"I suppose you could say we're part of the 99% as well," said Levin Brunner, an IT consultant from Munich, using the term coined by activists for the bulk of people who do not enjoy stellar salaries and annual bonuses. "We have similar protests in Germany, so we knew this was taking place and we have a lot of sympathy for it. It's very interesting for tourists to see, anyway."

The Occupy the London Stock Exchange movement says it has spoken to both the fire service and local health and safety officials and has been told there are no safety issues.
Why have the staff at the cathedral stopped talking to the representatives of the protestors? Leaving so many questions unanswered equals a PR disaster. It's not the protestors keeping worshipers and visitors out of the cathedral.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

UPDATE: When I was in London in July, I attempted to attend a service at St Paul's, and three sides, including the churchyard, were blocked off by barricades or locked gates due to street construction. I understood the front facing the street being blocked off, but why the side, back, and churchyard blocked or locked off? I could see the staff entering and walking around, so the areas were not dangerous.

By the time I found my way around to the one door which was open, the service was nearly over. There were no signs on the barricades directing people to the open door to the cathedral, which made the church seem not at all visitor-friendly or worshiper-friendly the Sunday I was there.