Sunday, 14 October 2012

Protestors occupy St Paul's Cathedral

Updated again 8 am Tuesday

Four demonstrators have chained themselves to the pulpit inside St Paul’s Cathedral.

Associated Press Occupy London activists stage St Paul’s protest

Telegraph Occupy London protesters chain themselves to St Paul’s Cathedral pulpit

BBC Occupy London protesters gather at St Paul’s Cathedral and Occupy activists stage St Paul’s pulpit protest

Evening Standard St Paul’s Cathedral Occupy protest latest

Guardian Occupy protesters chain themselves to St Paul’s pulpit

The service of evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral on 14 October was planned to incorporate prayers by Occupy Faith and a sermon which spoke clearly of the need for partnership between Occupy, St Paul’s and others in addressing the need for financial and political change which Occupy highlighted.

During the service a group of four women chained themselves to the pulpit and shouted out a list of grievances against St Paul’s as well as reading part of the bible. The Dean of St Paul’s, The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, who was about to preach, allowed them to speak, following which the rest of the service continued without interruption.

Afterwards the Dean said: “After working constructively together with Occupy Faith on this act of worship, we regret the abuse of the Cathedral’s hospitality and its daily worship. We also disagree with the way in which some protesters are continuing to pursue the agenda of conflict with St Paul’s, rather than consulting with us about how together we might better achieve the reforms which many people including Occupy are looking for.”

Updated press statement

This further paragraph has now been added

The four protesters remained chained to the pulpit during the organ recital and communion service which followed Evensong. At the close of the Cathedral after worship at 7pm, everyone remaining in the Cathedral was asked to leave (as is usual) so that the building could be locked for the night. The protesters and their supporters refused to leave, and the Dean engaged in dialogue with them, the outcome being that they agreed to meet with him and others from the Cathedral as soon as could be arranged. Although invited to do so, the protesters refused to give permission for their chains to be removed. The normal procedure for when people refuse to leave places of worship was then followed: the police were called to assist in moving those people on, and after half an hour of further discussion the protesters cut themselves free and left peacefully of their own accord.

Sunday’s sermon by the Dean.

And he had published this article on the cathedral website two days ago: Dean Ison reflects on Occupy - one year on.

Giles Fraser has written for the Guardian Occupy was right – all the church could say was ‘go home’.

And there is a Guardian editorial in Monday’s newspaper: St Paul’s protests: post-occupied.

Christianity Uncut has published

ITN Protesters leave St Paul’s

Occupy: Protesters have left St Paul’s

The protesters cut themselves free around 10pm after City of London Police entered the cathedral, an occupy spokesman said.

He said they decided to cut themselves free after being warned by officers that they faced arrest…

Telegraph Occupy London protesters free themselves from St Paul’s Cathedral pulpit

Evening Standard St Paul’s Occupy activist is actress who starred alongside Emma Thompson

Christianity Uncut has published Christian anti-capitalists rebut untrue claims about protest at St Paul’s.

Tuesday morning update

David Ison has written a letter to the Guardian St Paul’s is moving on – and we hope that Occupy will too.

Symon Hill has written Knocking at the door of St Paul’s.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 14 October 2012 at 8:02pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

It is as well that the Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, in his sermon, points to something that the Church has actually done on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged over the last 25 years. He says, of the 'Faith in the City', 1985, project:

"For the Church, the main legacy was the establishment of the Church Urban Fund, which over 25 years has raised and distributed over £60 million to change people’s lives in thousands of projects in cities around the country.”

Having, himself, been part of the urban scene - both in London and Bradford, Dean Ison is well-placed to know what is the role of the Church in matters of social justice.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 15 October 2012 at 12:33am BST

We are all mindful of what happened to the Pussy Riot protesters in Putin's Russia following their escapade in the Moscow cathedral.
I wonder what fate awaits the Occupy protestors for disrupting the Evening Office at St. Paul's cathedral?

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 15 October 2012 at 7:19am BST

Giles Fraser's article is excellent, but I was always a bit bemused by Occupy. On this I think my sympathies were (and are) with the Church.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 15 October 2012 at 11:23am BST

I'm sure Jesus engaged in respectful dialogue with the Jerusalem Bankers Association when He visited the Temple.

Posted by: Counterlight on Monday, 15 October 2012 at 1:34pm BST

My sympathies too are with the Church - I think the problem many have is identifying who truly represents the Church here.

Perhaps where I perceive the Church might not sit easily with the Dean ....

Now it seems that there has been an attempt to "spin" this story - Oh! Gawd! Are we to loose another Dean for telling lies?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 15 October 2012 at 3:56pm BST

It is the role of protestors to protest, and it is the role of unscrupulous financiers and capitalists to gamble with whole nations' money and wellbeing, in reckless pursuit of profit.

Occupy are not the problem, as far as the financial ruin of nations, the austerity imposed on millions, or the vast gap between haves and have nots is concerned.

If the protestors have, on this occasion, disturbed the aesthetic, finance-backed, nice sounding, comfortable cathedral, it is perhaps because the church in general, and the Cathedral in particular, may benefit from being disturbed and feeling a little less comfortable.

After all, it was only a 4-person symbolic gesture that lasted a few hours. No-one burnt the building down. Giles Fraser's analysis is characteristically acute.

Politeness and respectability are fine, but there comes a point where struggle for human dignity and flourishing requires protest. Hosting chat sessions with some of the cathedral's wealthy backers may be respectable, but there is a case for struggle and protest.

Capitalism has run amok and is out of control, and the poorest pay the heaviest price, while the rich are cushioned by savings.

Is a little protest in a cathedral more authentic than oratorios, postcard sales and a fantastic perpetuation of the status quo? Do we always have to be polite and respectable about wicked greed and the diminution of innocent people's lives?

Posted by: Susannah on Monday, 15 October 2012 at 11:32pm BST

For me the Trinity is expressed in Being Church, by Doing Church and through Imagining Church.

I guess that St Paul's would see itself doing rather well at Being Church - and from its press release it lays claim to being part of a community that does all the rest well too.

Doing Church is by Our Lord's example profoundly risky and deeply edgy and in what I read here St Paul's appears to be at some distance from being comfortable with this. It seems that the powers that be want to be at least one step removed from any meaningful dialogue and that when that dialogue did start last year there was much blood letting and the high priests of both Dionysus and Apollo were sacrificed.

Listening to the new Dean and St Paul's the grand scale overwhelms the plaintiff voices and very small scale Occupiers and the sense of outrage and betrayal still beats off the spirits of hospitality and engagement, effortlessly.

It is easy to mock those who stand against entrenched privilege and greed when you have all the resources and power the State can give. It seems that Church of England leaders have shown a complete failure to Imagine Church - or "contemplation" as one might have it - when faced with the tents of Occupy and miss completely the opportunity to engage with those who also want to see our society transformed. I am proud that there are Christians there, at the forefront, I am not surprised at the treatment they receive - though I have enough dignity left to be ashamed.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 at 10:34am BST

"Is a little protest in a cathedral more authentic than oratorios, postcard sales and a fantastic perpetuation of the status quo? Do we always have to be polite and respectable about wicked greed and the diminution of innocent people's lives?"


Posted by: Counterlight on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 at 12:14pm BST

"Is a little protest in a cathedral more authentic than oratorios, postcard sales and a fantastic perpetuation of the status quo? Do we always have to be polite and respectable about wicked greed and the diminution of innocent people's lives?"


Posted by: Counterlight on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 at 12:14pm BST

And Amen, here, too!

Well, said Susannah!

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 at 9:00am BST

Well - I guess people would also complain if the cathedral was falling down in disrepair. They would also complain no doubt if a special tax was applied to maintain its upkeep.

But as for Occupy - they like to hit the soft target. Why are they not chained outside Goldman Sachs. Is their dispute really with God, as most do not believe in Him. They should be asking God to call the nation to repentance, to abandon the nation's godlessness.

Perhaps they should chain themselves to the next Archbishop if he fails to preach the gospel of repentance to the whole nation. For the whole nations greed and consumerism and abandonment of God, in favour of the old pagan gods of riches, lust and being your own Lord

Posted by: David WIlson on Monday, 22 October 2012 at 5:31pm BST
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