Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral resigns over Occupy London protest
The Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, has resigned amid growing controversy over the decision to mount legal action against the anti-capitalist protesters on its doorstep.
2:33PM GMT 31 Oct 2011
He said the clergy had been put “under a great deal of strain” as they faced what he described as “insurmountable issues” and that he felt his position had become “untenable”.
The announcement comes just days after Canon Chancellor Dr Giles Fraser stepped down from his post, warning that to evict the anti-capitalist activists would constitute “violence in the name of the Church”.
A part time chaplain, Rev Fraser Dyer, has also resigned citing similar concerns.
On Friday, the Dean announced that the cathedral would pursue an injunction to evict the protesters. It was a decision that provoked a barrage of criticism.
Rev Knowles said today: “It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as Dean of St Paul’s was becoming untenable.
“In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul’s, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised. I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the Chapter of this great cathedral.”
Yesterday, he addressed protesters at the camp, insisting that he was keen to listen and to answer their questions.
However, he looked distinctly uncomfortable on the podium and was heckled as he failed to answer why legal action had been sought.
He admitted that he found it “quite difficult” that the protesters assumed he did not share their views simply because he used different methods of expressing them. Just hours later, he advised the cathedral Chapter of his decision to step down.
He said in a statement: “This has not been an easy decision for me to make, at this stage in my ministry, as I have very much enjoyed being at St Paul’s as dean. I am immensely grateful to the current members of the Chapter, both ordained and lay, as well as previous colleagues, for their help, support and encouragement, but above all, their friendship.
“I would also wish to place on record my thanks to all the staff of the cathedral, both paid and volunteers, who work tirelessly, day by day, to ensure that this amazing place is maintained, and that it is indeed cherished as a place of worship and pilgrimage.
“In recent days, since the arrival of the protesters’ camp outside the cathedral, we have all been put under a great deal of strain and have faced what would appear to be some insurmountable issues. I hope and pray that under new leadership these issues might continue to be addressed and that there might be a swift and peaceful resolution”
His resignation was accepted by the Rt Rev Michael Colclough, a member of the cathedral’s Chapter, “with a heavy heart”. Rev Colclough paid tribute to his colleague’s “dedication, diligence and pastoral care”.
Two significant resignations of Church officials over the Protesters‘ Encampment at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, points up the seriousness with which the Church of England must face up to it’s mission ‘In The City of London. Both Archbishops – Canterbury and York – have previously made their opinions known about problems with the ‘Money-Makers’ in London’s Financial District. The problems now facing Saint Paul’s will demand their further engagement in the process of further comment on with the endemic culture of financial mismanagement. Hopefully, this matter will help move the focus of the Churches away from problems with Women and Gays.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand