Anglican clergy back Christians evicted from steps of St Paul's

By staff writers
March 14, 2012

The Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Rt Rev Michael Colclough, has received a letter from five Christians who were removed by police as they prayed on the cathedral steps during the eviction of the ‘Occupy’ camp.

Twenty clergy, including eleven Anglicans, have counter-signed the letter in support.

The five have called on the cathedral authorities to clarify whether they gave the police permission for the forced removal, which saw police dragging praying Christians from their knees.

The court order authorised eviction of land belonging to the City of London Corporation, but did not cover cathedral property. The cathedral authorities have made no public statement on this point since the eviction on 28 February.

The five – George Barda, Jonathan Bartley, Siobhan Grimes, Symon Hill and Sam Walton – have asked for a meeting with senior representatives of the cathedral. Their letter offers to meet “in a spirit of love and respect”.

In their letter, they say that they were “profoundly shocked to be forcibly removed from the steps of a church while we prayed”.

They explain, “After praying in the middle of the camp area, we decided to pray on the steps, not least because many of the occupiers were sitting there, some of them in a state of considerable distress.”

They ask the Canon Pastor to explain what permission was given to the police, either explicitly or implicitly. “Please can you tell us if you consider that the police were right to remove us from the steps, and, if so, why?”

The five signatories belong to Christianity Uncut, an informal network of Christians campaigning against the UK government's cuts agenda.

The letter is likely to increase pressure on the cathedral authorities, particularly given the counter-signatures from Church of England clergy.

Rev Dr Keith Hebden, a Church of England priest in Gloucestershire, urged the Cathedral Chapter “to make clear, not only what part they played in complicity to the violence, but also what they intend to do in the face of real and pressing issues of injustice”.

The full text of the letter can be read at


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