Third St. Paul clergyman to resign over protester’s eviction

By » Mon, October 31 2011

St Pauls Cathedral 007 Third St. Paul clergyman to resign over protesters eviction

In the face of rising public outcry against the eviction of Occupy London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral protesters, three members of the Church of England have resigned.

The first of St. Paul’s clergyman to resign was Giles Fraser, a part-time chancellor who reputedly had great rapport with London’s younger Anglicans. His resignation via tweet, at the very least, supports this.

In a statement to the Guardian, Fraser, who was appointed canon in May 2009, confirmed his resignation, saying: “I resigned because I believe that the chapter has set on a course of action that could mean there will be violence in the name of the church.”

But he was immediately followed by a higher-ranking, more established chaplain, Fraser Dyer, citing his disappointment with the church. The Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, had this to say about it.

It has… been disappointing to learn of today’s announcement that St Paul’s will instigate legal proceedings seeking the removal of the protesters. It is particularly poignant that this announcement comes on the day that IDS report an increase in top directors’ pay of almost 50% over the last year.

I appreciate that St Paul’s has its own means of speaking to the issue of corporate and financial conduct in the City, but am sorry that a way could not be found of – at the very least – continuing to thole the occupation of the precinct by those with a genuine and prophetic complaint that has much in keeping with the values of the gospel.

I only recently joined the cathedral’s pastoral team and it has been a privilege to minister to the building’s many visitors. I was looking forward to more opportunities to do so. Today, however, I am left feeling embarrassed by the position the Dean and Chapter have taken.

I do not relish the prospect of having to defend the cathedral’s position in the face of the inevitable questions that visitors to St Paul’s will pose in the coming weeks and months, particularly if we are to see protesters forcibly removed by police at the Dean and Chapter’s behest. It is therefore with regret that I write to inform you of my decision to stand down from the pastoral team with immediate effect.

And now a third, quite senior man of the cloth is stepping down, the cathedral’s dean, the Right Rev Graham Knowles. To put things into perspective, he’s got his own Wikipedia entry and his successor needs to be approved of by the queen herself. From his statement of resignation:

It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as Dean of St Paul’s was becoming untenable. In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul’s, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised. I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the Chapter of this great cathedral.

Still, his resignation might not be entirely in protest, as Knowles was the one to close the cathedral, the first step taken in evicting the protesters.

So whether he’s leaving because he can’t reconcile his social and religious beliefs with the prospect of rousting the protestors, or he’s leaving because this whole deal’s a complete clusterfuck has yet to be determined, though his homily delivered during the protest probably leans towards the former.

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