THE Dean of St Paul's, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, accused
Occupy protesters of abusing the cathedral's hospitality, after
four protesters chained themselves to the pulpit during evensong
The evensong service yesterday had been scheduled to include
prayers by members of Occupy Faith, to mark the anniversary of the
camp arriving at St Paul's (
Features 12 October). But just before Dr Ison got up to
preach, a group of four women chained themselves to the pulpit and,
said a statement from St Paul's, "shouted out a list of grievances
against St Paul's as well as reading part of the Bible". Dr Ison
"allowed them to speak, following which the rest of the service
continued without interruption".
Outside the cathedral, protesters had unfurled a banner on the
cathedral steps with the slogan: "Throw the moneychangers out of
The four women remained chained to the pulpit during the organ
recital and the communion service which followed evensong. St
Paul's said that Dr Ison "engaged in dialogue" with the protesters,
who "agreed to meet him and others from the cathedral as soon as
could be arranged".
The statement continued: "Although invited to do so, the
protesters refused to give permission for their chains to be
removed. The normal procedure for when people refuse to leave
places of worship was then followed: the police were called to
assist in moving those people on, and after half an hour of further
discussion the protesters cut themselves free and left peacefully
of their own accord."
Dr Ison said: "After working constructively together with Occupy
Faith [a branch of Occupy] on this act of worship, we regret the
abuse of the cathedral's hospitality and its daily worship. We also
disagree with the way in which some protesters are continuing to
pursue the agenda of conflict with St Paul's, rather than
consulting with us about how together we might better achieve the
reforms which many people including Occupy are looking for."
Christianity Uncut, a network of anti-capitalist Christians
which organised the protest, along with Occupy London, said in a
statement today that the protest was "a non-violent and dignified
act of witness". Two of the protesters were Anglicans, it said.
Symon Hill, a member of Christianity Uncut, said that the
invitation to read prayers in the service was "tokenistic" and
showed "just how far St Paul's Cathedral has to go to live up to
its own rhetoric about economic justice".
Siobhan Grimes, one of the women who chained herself
to the pulpit, said: "During the action, we managed to
speak with the Dean of St Paul's about Christianity and economic
inequality, the questionable investments held by the Church of
England and the unethical corporations that sponsor St Paul's
Cathedral, including Goldman Sachs. We have been
offered a further meeting with the Dean to speak about economic
justice and faith. I really hope this meeting happens."
On Saturday, about 400 people gathered outside St Paul's for
"GlobalNoise", which Occupy London described as "a global day of
protest to highlight the fact that people are still here, one year
on, united and more determined than ever".
Writing on the Guardian website
yesterday, Canon Giles Fraser said: "As the Occupiers reminded the
Church today, Jesus angrily ejected the moneychangers from the
temple. It's hard to imagine circumstances in which the Church of
England would ever do the same."