It is one of those rare occasions that leaders in the contemporary church long for: to be at the heart of the action. In a society with little interest in organised Christianity, suddenly St Paul's cathedral finds itself at the epicentre of the Occupy London movement (St Paul's may seek injunction to move activists, 24 October). Rather than serving as a museum to the past, it has become a site of public contestation. Initially, the church demonstrated a hospitality that intrigued activists. Impressed after hearing a priest offer prayers for both the protesters and the police, one young man said: "It has changed my idea positively of the Church of England."

On Sunday, however, the cathedral shut its doors, using the meagre excuse of "health and safety concerns". Today the church has admitted that its main worry is lost tourist revenues. Such a stance will only confirm what many outsiders already think about the church. Influence and relevance in the wider society do not come without some inconvenience. It is a pity that the cathedral is unwilling to get its hands dirty. As an Anglican, I hope St Paul's doesn't completely squander this chance to make a real witness to its faith while it is in the public eye. Does suing young and unemployed protesters really model the call to love one's neighbour?
(Rev Christopher Craig Brittain

Good, old Craig!


LETTER OF THE DAY — 9 Comments

  1. I don’t even know about that phrase “getting it’s hands dirty”. As I understand it, these are clean and orderly people who r protesting, what’s ‘dirty’ about that? I would think that many tourists would come to see the protest settlement as well as the cathedral.


  2. Thanks, Artsy Honker.
    And, wow, I’m impressed and a bit jealous that I’m not young and fervent like you anymore. It was rock against racism and fighting the national front on Brick Lane in my day and it was such fun. This will be something that you will remember and treasure for the rest of your life. You will always be able to say with integrity “When I was young I….”

  3. Last night I caught part of a news video of an outdoor service for/by the protesters in Boston. Different parts of the service done by ?clergy
    not vested. Not having service printed out, they had the group (congregation) repeat each line that the leader said, ditto with the hymns. Gave out bread and grape juice, very well done and well received.


  4. Rather a different scene from the period when Trinity Church on Wall Street opened its doors to all the first responders at the World Trade Center on 9-11, a time the staff and clergy there will, as you say, never forget. It was the church at perhaps its best, and they pulled it off with grace. One would hope that the St Paul’s staff and clergy at least would realize the PR advantages of opening their space to the protesters, as they did earlier on.