Andrew Brown has written at Cif belief St Paul’s must change direction.
After the resignation of its dean, St Paul’s must negotiate a peaceful settlement with the protesters, as quickly as possible.
The resignation of the dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Graeme Knowles, has landed responsibility for the crisis with the bishop of London, Richard Chartres. If the dean’s sacrifice is not to be in vain, the bishop must reverse his policy within the next 24 hours, and preferably by tomorrow morning. The alternatives are very much worse.
The bishop has a simple choice. Either he plans to throw all the protesters out, or he acquiesces in the presence of some sort of camp right outside his front door for the indefinite future. The lawyers, and perhaps the health-and-safety people, believe he must expel the protesters. The rest of the church sees clearly that this would be wrong in principle, and hugely damaging to the reputation of Christianity.
There’s no tidy way out of this, but there is a wrong one, which is to continue digging the grave Knowles had with such effort prepared for the Church of England’s reputation. The bishop will have to defy his own lawyers and negotiate a peaceful settlement with the protesters. Since he must do this, he had best do it at once. To wait for a week and then change his mind would be nearly as disastrous as settling for expulsion….