Thursday, 27 October 2011

St Paul's Cathedral: Thursday reports

Updated again 7.00 pm

BBC
St Paul’s chancellor Canon Dr Giles Fraser ‘to resign’ headlined now changed after write-through: St Paul’s protest: Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser quits

St Paul’s Cathedral ‘may reopen’ despite protest camp

Independent
Paul Cahalan, Jerome Taylor St Paul’s tries to heal rifts and offers to open its doors

Mark Donne A chauffeur-driven bishop, and a Church that refuses sanctuary

Leading article: More right than wrong in the precincts of St Paul’s

Tweet from @giles_fraser: It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Statement from St Paul’s Cathedral: Canon Giles Fraser to step down.

27 October 2011

The Reverend Canon Dr Giles Fraser, Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, has resigned from his post.

Canon Fraser, a former Vicar of Putney who took up his post in June 2009, informed the Dean and Chapter colleagues of his decision today.

The Dean of St Paul’s, The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, said today: “Giles has brought a unique contribution to the life and ministry of St Paul’s and we will be very sorry to see him go. He has developed the work of the St Paul’s Institute and has raised the profile of our work in the City. We are obviously disappointed that he is not able to continue to his work with Chapter during these challenging days. We will miss his humour and humanity and wish Giles and his family every good wish into the future.”
The post of Canon Chancellor is a Crown appointment. The process to appoint Canon Fraser’s successor will begin shortly.

Guardian St Paul’s Cathedral canon resigns by Shiv Malik and Riazat Butt

…In a short 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.”

Statement by the Bishop of London: Giles Fraser: a statement from the Bishop of London

27/10/11

A statement by the Bishop of London on the resignation of Giles Fraser.

“I heard, with regret, the news of Giles Fraser’s resignation from the Chapter of St Paul’s this morning and I have now contacted him. His is an important voice in the Church and I have offered to meet him immediately to discuss how we can ensure it continues to be heard.”

Statement by Occupy London: Statement regarding resignation of Reverend Canon Dr Giles Fraser

Guardian Stephen Bates Giles Fraser: St Paul’s jeans and T-shirt wearing cleric

Telegraph
Victoria Ward, and Sarah Rainey St Paul’s Cathedral to reopen as City moves to evict protest camp

Sarah Rainey Dr Giles Fraser resigns from St Paul’s

Sarah Rainey and Victoria Ward Dr Giles Fraser resigns from St Paul’s over ‘violence in the name of the Church’

Evening Standard Tom Harper and Peter Dominiczak St Paul’s Canon blasts church over ‘violent treatment’ of tent protesters

…The Bishop of London said he will meet the protesters on Sunday to invite them to a debate inside the cathedral if they agree to leave the camp…

…It is understood Dr Fraser is not alone in his view among senior colleagues at St Paul’s that enforced removal of demonstrators would be a disaster for the Church.

Dr Fraser quit as the Dean of St Paul’s admitted the crisis engulfing the cathedral was “its most difficult times since the Second World War”.

Church Times Ed Thornton St Paul’s row: Giles Fraser resigns

Guardian Comment is Free Andrew Brown Giles Fraser is never taken in by establishment self-delusion

So much of the church’s energies are taken up in make-believe about its position in society that Fraser is really shocking to anyone used to professional Anglicans.

There was an example of this just this week in the Bishop of London’s statement about the protesters explaining that they could go away now because the grown-ups had taken over: “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.”

Never mind that the St Paul’s Institute was run by Giles Fraser, who the bishop must have known was about to resign. There is one huge shrieking question about a press release like that: who is it meant to fool? Does anyone really think that the City takes more notice of a bishop than of a genuine popular demonstration? Does anyone in the wider world think that the bishop’s words count for as much as the protesters’ acts, or that they mean anything at all?

Evening Standard Common sense wins with reopening of St Paul’s Dr Richard Chartres, The Bishop of London

It is easy to be cynical about health and safety but it would be naive of the Dean and Chapter, in charge of a tourist attraction visited by thousands each week, to ignore the attached public liability responsibilities.

It is much easier for those looking on to cry, “Ignore the lawyers”, let alone the insurers and the myriad appointed experts who invariably have a “worst case scenario” outlook.

The fact remains that it was unavoidable for the Cathedral to close last week but the Dean, Chapter and staff should be commended for working tirelessly since then to find a way of reopening - and indeed the protesters for readily complying.

Yet it is symptomatic of what the scene outside has become that so much attention remains focused upon what represents a “trip and slip” hazard, a flammable substance or a safe tent configuration.

The debate has also been about whether it is capitalist to own an iPad or buy a Starbucks coffee, or whether a protester should take a break at night.

The Church’s own role in this has now inevitably come under scrutiny. Calls for the camp to disband peacefully have been deliberately interpreted as taking the side of Mammon, which is simply not the case.

The original purpose of the protests, to shine a light on issues such as corporate greed and executive pay, has been all but extinguished - yet these are issues that the St Paul’s Institute has taken to heart and has been engaged in examining.

The time has come to change the setting. Now that St Paul’s can function again, albeit on a limited basis, the cathedral wants to help recapture the serious issues.

If the protesters will disband peacefully, I will join the Dean and Chapter in organising a St Paul’s Institute debate on the real issues here under the Dome.

We will convene a panel from across the political and business spectrum and will invite the protesters to be represented.

The Dean and I will be available on Sunday morning, outside St Paul’s, to listen and engage. Our message will be simple: pack up your tents voluntarily and let us make you heard.

Guardian Riazat Butt Bishop of London offers debate with Occupy protesters if they disband

And another tweet from @giles_fraser: It is completely unfair for people to have a go at my colleagues. They have acted out of principle just as much as I.

Alan Rusbridger Canon of St Paul’s: church cannot answer peaceful protest with violence

BBC
Dr Giles Fraser explains why he resigned from St Paul’s video interview with Robert Pigott

St Paul’s Cathedral Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser in profile

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Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 9:12am BST

Most will say that if Giles does go, no matter how the press releases might spin it, it will make the rest of the Chapter look like lying knaves.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 10:05am BST

So, will we see Dr Fraser sitting outside his own cathedral now? :/

Posted by: TIm on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 10:09am BST

He resigned this morning. He said the cathedral had set in motion a process to evict the protestors which, in his view, was quite likely to involve police or bailiffs using force. He said he had resigned because he did not believe this should be done in the church's name.

Basically he seems to have put principle before status.

Posted by: Susannah on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 10:22am BST

Giles Fraser, next Dean of Southwark?

Posted by: Ben on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 10:57am BST

Dr Fraser has resigned.

It keeps the rumour of G-d alive, for me

I could cry

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 11:16am BST

It's good news that the Cathedral might reopen, but the handling of the whole affair has been bloody shambolic. While there are undoubtedly real safety issues involved - not to mention potential threats to the fabric of the building - the diocese and the dean and chapter have handled the whole matter exceedingly badly. It should not be Giles Fraser who is resigning.

Still - one small bright spot in this dismal affair: the "chauffer-driven" Bishop of London may have to kiss goodbye to his dreams of preferment. It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

Posted by: rjb on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 11:59am BST

Kudos to Canon Fraser...my prayers are with him

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 12:39pm BST

Bishop of London busily redefining the terms retroactive and platitudinous. Has "contacted giles fraser to discuss how his voice can 'continue to be heard'" and "will be on steps of st pauls london Sunday morning, hosting debate inside w/protesters". Comments just posted on Riazat Butt's twitter.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 1:33pm BST

Of course, I wouldn't wish to imply for a moment that Fr Giles was motivated by anything other than principle in jumping from the sinking ship that is St Paul's, but Jonathan (a.k.a. Mad Priest) over at OCICBW has some rather piquant speculation about Giles Fraser's future career and the vacant deanery of Southwark.

Posted by: rjb on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 1:55pm BST

The Church’s own role in this has now inevitably come under scrutiny. Calls for the camp to disband peacefully have been deliberately interpreted as taking the side of Mammon, which is simply not the case.

Well, it's either that...or the British equivalent of "Hey you kids! Get off of my lawn!"

Our message will be simple: pack up your tents voluntarily and let us make you heard.

I suggest a better message: "Come inside the cathedral where it's warm and dry--and we will stand with you and invite the folks at the London Stock Exchange, and Parliament, to meet us here and plan a better future together."

One can dream....

(FTR, I expect the same of churches and their leaders on my side of the pond.)

Posted by: Doxy on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 3:06pm BST

"It is completely unfair for people to have a go at my colleagues. They have acted out of principle just as much as I."

This tweet is to Giles' great credit. On the other hand, people criticise his colleagues precisely because of the principles that appear to underpin their actions.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 5:34pm BST

As the initiator of the trouble at St Paul's last week-end, it is a relief that Canon Fraser has decided to resign. From the start he severely compromised the Cathedral's position. Were his initial statements authorised? I doubt it. When you are a Canon of St Paul's you cannot behave as if you are still vicar of Putney.

It is interesting that the Bishop of London is finding a cosy living for him! For years I have noticed that if you want the Church of England to look after you as a clergyman, you have to make a nuisance of yourself.

Posted by: John Bowles on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 6:33pm BST

John Bowles,
did you watch the video interview Robert Pigott did with Giles Fraser? The one in which he expressed love, respect and friendship for his colleagues while nevertheless saying he had to go his own path?

If anyone models how Christians ought to disagree, it's Giles, right here.

You might reconsider your own dimissive style.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 7:23pm BST

'...vacant deanery of Southwark'.

Hands off, there is a vacant bishopric in Chichester.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 7:39pm BST

DR. Giles Fraser would make a wonderful Archbishop of Canterbury. I hope this might one day happen.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 7:54pm BST

And a vacancy for Vicar of St Martin in the Fields ...

Posted by: Ben on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 9:15pm BST

Prayers of thanksgiving for the stance taken by Canon Giles Fraser--clearly a man of integrity.

"Money so they say is the root of all evil today, but its no surprise if you ask for a rise they're giving none away"

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 10:44pm BST

What Doxy said. The Corporation of London is about to close down the protest whether or not the Cathedral does so. The appropriate thing for the Dean and Chapter to do is to open the doors of the Cathedral to all the protesters, let them camp out there, give them sanctuary, and, if the police come to break things up and cart off the protesters, the Dean and Chapter should insist they, too, be handcuffed and removed as well.

This resolve by the Corporation of London is exactly why this protest is necessary.

Posted by: Lois Keen on Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 11:12pm BST

I wonder if the spectacle of police violence in Oakland CA might have persuaded the cathedral chapter to reconsider.

Warning, this is unedited footage by one of the protesters:

http://youtu.be/tyr5eHdQEro

Posted by: Counterlight on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 12:06am BST

I think the hagiographical references to Saint Giles are a bit early. I felt he was living on borrowed time after he told the police to go away and therefore subjected the cathedral of which he was a responsible officer to its difficulties and closure. Would someone like to advise me how a closed cathedral with no worshippers and no income can continue to function as the religious institution it is? Canon Fraser has to take his share of responsibility for this outcome and the difficult position in which it has placed his colleagues, the staff and volunteers.

As for ecclesiastical preferment, I wouldn't put anything past the CofE, but Giles Fraser is not an establishment figure (why did he think St Paul's was a suitable post for someone of his anti-establishment mindset?). He is a media person, a communicator. That is where his strengths lie: 'an important voice', as the Bishop of London has put it. This episode has shown that senior responsible positions in the hierarchy are going to be a problem for him, particularly if he is going to be prone to resign 'on principle'.

Posted by: Roger Antell on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 12:37am BST

What Lois Keen said.

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:02am BST

Roger Antell: "senior responsible positions in the hierarchy are going to be a problem for him, particularly if he is going to be prone to resign 'on principle'"

Roger, I think you may have unwittingly shown us all that is wrong about the way the Church is currently run here...

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 8:44am BST

Well said,Roger Antell. Canon Fraser compromised St Paul's from the beginning with his conventional, left-wing statements and played into the opportunistic and cynical hands of the protestors. The rest we know. If any single individual is responsible for the present impasse it is him.

As for these mad ideas that he might go to Southwark Cathedral, the diocese of Chichester, or St Martin's-in-the-Fields, the Bishop of London only has jurisdiction over the last and nothing to do with the rest. It would be unfortunate for St Martin's if it became a platform for Frassr's vanity.

Posted by: John Bowles on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 8:51am BST

John Bowles! Have you ever met Fr.Giles Fraser? I doubt it, because if you had you would realise he is a prophetic voice within the Church of England, who is not above putting his family life, his job at Saint Paul's, and his career on the line for the sake of justice. How would you fare in such a situation, I wonder? The Church desperately needs prophets at this time in her history.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 10:40am BST

John Bowles:

Yes, heaven forfend that we should "compromise" the church by taking positions in opposition to the wealthy and powerful.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 11:26am BST

Fr Ron Smith et al

No, I have not met Canon Fraser, not do I want to. My main complaint about him is that he is anything but prophetic but the mouther of what have become stale, conformist, acceptable, conventional, left-wing, middle-class cliches that are enunciated day after day in the Guardian. From the moment he stood on the steps of St Paul's last week jabbering in this way, trouble started, the protestors appeared vindicated and the cathedral's objectivity compromised.

The protestors took advantage of St Paul's, knowing full well that it would achieve publicity, that they had nowhere else to go because better sites were legally denied them, and realizing that they would put the cathedral in an impossible situation. Had not Giles Fraser
appeared spouting cliches the difficulty might now have been dealt with and the site cleared.

God help the Church of England, if Fraser is considered a 'prophetic voice'. Compared with people like Trevor Huddlestone and Ken Leech, he is nobody. He distorts the teaching of Christ to serve his own ends.

Posted by: John Bowles on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 12:42pm BST

Canon Fraser (will he be allowed to keep the title as an emeritus?) is indisputably a sincere man much to be admired. He is quoted as being 'scared' for his future. He need not be as he has probably inadvertently made the best career move of his working life. As you previous commentators have suggested he will surely become the next Dean of Southwark or something commensurate.

In the meantime there will certainly be blood on the carpet or more precisely the steps of St Paul's when the eventual eviction takes place. Fraser apart the church has come out very badly on this one.

Posted by: observer on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 4:04pm BST

Nobody put the cathedral in an "impossible" position but the Dean and chapter themselves. I suspect Mr. Bowles would not object to Canon Fraser "spouting cliches" if the cliches had come from the right-wing playbook.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 28 October 2011 at 10:14pm BST

So I turned up on the steps of St.Paul's yesterday at 11.50am for the meeting arranged 4 months ago with my colleague in parochial ministry here in Sussex from the Lutheran Church and my former Roman Catholic Deacon colleague who is now training for the priesthood. We were making for our once-a-year lunch.

As I stood there at 11.55am with my priest-in-training former colleague, neither of us wearing our dog collars, we were approached by a lady from Channel 4 News asking if we would be going into the Cathedral at 12 when it opened to worship, and if so if we would do an interview.

We explained that we were heading for lunch with our Lutheran friend and that we were not the ones Channel 4 were looking for. 'How very ecumenical', the Channel 4 News lady replied.

My conclusion from what I saw is that the scale of Police presence just around the block, the blocked off accesses just beyond the Cathedral and the number of security guards shows that the City of London means business and will not let the encampment stay. I'm not sure that any Cathedral Close in England would tolerate an impromptu campsite without permission from the Dean & Chapter. But this is London, and the City of London: it's easy to criticise St.Paul's in hindsight - but I would have thought that in the current climate they would have seen this coming and made contingency planning.

Posted by: Jon Hale on Saturday, 29 October 2011 at 1:16pm BST

Mr. Bowles seems a prophetic voice for the rich and powerful, who deplores anyone who is not.

Giles Fraser is certainly not the embodiment of Jesus,but his actions are closer to those of Jesus than the Dean,or Chapter,or Bishop of London.

Keep rooting for the Pharisees,Mr. Bowles.

But, the needs of the trod-upon should be addressed by the Chruch,and sometimes that is inconvenient.
Maybe they'll win, this time.


Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Saturday, 29 October 2011 at 9:31pm BST

"He distorts the teaching of Christ to serve his own ends."

And I thought David Horton was just a parody!

It must be nice to be so selective in what constitutes the "teachings of Christ" - especially when you have a Christ who talked about giving away all to the poor, having no place to lay his head, and an early church in which "all things were held in common."

You mean *that* Christ, Mr. Bowles?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 1 November 2011 at 6:41am GMT
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