Cathedral canon chancellor resigns over eviction threats

By staff writers
27 Oct 2011

Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's, has resigned his post over threats to forcibly evict Occupy protesters from the Cathedral site.

Dr Fraser, an outspoken cleric on the progressive wing of the Church of England, had defended the right of the anti-corporate greed protest group, Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSE), to set up camp when it first arrived.

But the Dean of the Cathedral, Graeme Knowles, soon took over as lead spokesperson, urging the demonstrators to leave, closing St Paul's on health and safety grounds - despite active cooperation on these issues from OLSE - and threatening participation in legal action to evict them.

It became clear that the Cathedral staff, and especially Dr Fraser, were facing deep internal disagreements over the response to the Occupy protests.

The Canon Chancellor, who has also been a leading light in the Inclusive Church movement, tweeted this morning: "It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St Paul's Cathedral."

In a statement he said: "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."

A spokseperson for Occupy London Stock Exchange said the group was "deeply moved" to hear of Dr Fraser's resignation. It had been cheered by his initial support, and by his sermon against corporate greed on Sunday.

"He is man of great personal integrity and our thoughts are with him. He respected our right to protest and defended it. For that we are very grateful, as he ensured that St Paul's could be a sanctuary for us and that no violence could take place against peaceful protesters with a legitimate cause – challenging and tackling social and economic injustice in London, the UK and beyond," said Naomi Colvin.

She added: "Courage like that is really very inspiring. It reassures us that what we're doing is important. The people who have a bit of integrity, it's becoming more obvious who those people are. I hope we can do well enough to justify their sacrifices."

[Ekk/3]

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