I blogged last Friday with the title: “It’s “Occupy London Stock Exchange” not “Occupy St Paul’s Cathedral forecourt” “.
Now I repeat the point. The Occupy London protesters are being perceived (whether they intend it or not) to be having a battle with the St Paul’s Cathedral authorities. They appear to be pursuing this battle with great vigour and tenacity.
Meanwhile, complaints about the excesses of the financial world are getting drowned out by the anti-frockocracy noise.
The resignation of the Dean has confirmed what a crazy situation this is. Giles Fraser wasn’t a maverick after all. The Dean’s resignation confirms that the protesters have put the church into an impossible position and one which is totally conter-productive for the protestors.
It bears repeating. The protestors are protesting against the excesses of the financial world.
You could be forgiven for thinking that they are persecuting a war against the church.
That is the perception which is clearly broadly shared.
And that is quite ridiculous. The church and its ministers are people who are committed to helping the poor, fighting injustice and for whom wealth is anathema. The “Eye of the needle” and all that.
The Dean underlined this on Sunday when he told the protestors that he has committed his entire life or “ministry” to fighting poverty. And then we had a representative of the protestors telling Radio Four’s “World at One” that this was the first time she realised that the church was interested in helping the poor. As they say on Twitter: “FFS”. But the protestor rep can be forgiven. Perhaps the silver lining in all this is that people are at last realising that the church do follow Jesus’ example in fighting for the poor and marginalised in society. All this talk of “What would Jesus do” is actually something to welcome with delight, as the Bishop of Buckingham told the same programme.
So it really is breathtakingly stupid that the protestors have got themselves into this battle with the church.
Thank goodness that the church, it appears, is not fighting back – as we see the white flag raised first by Giles Fraser and now by the Dean.
The protestors now need to make the next move and back off St Paul’s.
However, equally, the St Paul’s authorities have made fools of themselves. It is now time for them to seize this opportunity to join forces with the protestors. Bishop Alan, the Bishop of Buckingham, puts it very well on his blog:
…as St Paul’s reopens its doors, this tale raises a question for its managers.
Can they redeem their initial hysterical over-reaction? Do they want to draw all voices into a vital public debate, or will they clear the site as tactfully and soon as possible, probably in the middle of the night — when Caiaphas and chums used to do their business?
In other words do they have the stomach to engage in the real world at the crest of a tidal race between people, money and power, or are they just overgrown public schoolboys playing indoor games in their own self-important Tourist Disneyland?
Over to them…
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