The canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, has resigned in protest at plans to forcibly remove protesters from its steps, saying he could not support the possibility of “violence in the name of the church”.
Speculation grew in the last 24 hours that Fraser, a leading leftwing voice in the Church of England, would resign because he could not sanction the use of police or bailiffs against the hundreds of activists who have set up camp in the grounds of the cathedral in the past fortnight.
Just after 9am on Thursday, Fraser tweeted: “It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St Paul’s Cathedral.”
In a statement to the Guardian, Fraser, who was appointed canon in May 2009, confirmed his resignation, saying:“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.”
Fraser quickly became a hero figure among the Occupy the London Stock Exchange (LSX) movement, clearing police officers off the steps of St Paul’s and supporting the group’s right to peaceful protest after a court injunction stopped it from setting up camp in nearby Paternoster Square. He also delivered a Sunday sermon decrying corporate greed, which was seen as another sign of his endorsement of the protest.
Occupy London said it was “deeply moved” to hear of his resignation.
“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.”
The Catholic Church I attend when I drag my lazy ass out of bed on Sunday spends a lot of time gathering donations for the local food pantry, running benefits for the homeless, and generally working in the neighborhood around it, which isn’t the richest in the whole world.
It’s why I kept going after I felt I’d done my best to do the whole “believe in God” thing and was only ever going to get partway there. I kept going there because it wasn’t just “try not to be such a douche all the time,” though those sermons are useful to me. I kept going because I felt like that was the kind of place the church, and organized religion generally, needed more of: not a word about how women are whores merrily having abortions all the time, and lots and lots of actions about feeding some damn poor people already.
Somewhere along the line we got the blasphemous idea that the only moral issues the church could take a stand on had to do with sex. As if there was any damage we could do by banging each other that would begin to approach the level of damage we do walking around every day in a world where some of us have more than enough to eat and some of us don’t and that’s somehow okay.
Kudos to Rev. Fraser for making a moral stand.