Bishop of Buckingham criticises St Paul’s closure

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THE Bishop of Buckingham has waded into the debate over whether St Paul’s Cathedral should have closed its doors during the recent protest on its steps.

Clergy reopened the cathedral last Friday after closing it for several days, citing health and safety reasons for its closure because of the Occupy London camp outside.

In an article on his blog, Bishop Alan Wilson, who is also a visiting professor at the University of Buckingham, said after visiting the camp, he had no idea why the cathedral shut up shop last week.

He said: “The appearance of a large handful, but still only a handful, of cheap tents 50 yards from the front door would be possible to manage, one would think?

“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?”

St Paul’s started legal action to evict the protestors, but on Tuesday had suspended the action saying it intended to “engage directly and constructively” with the protesters.

A statement on the cathedral website said: “The resignation of the Dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, has given the opportunity to reassess the situation, involving fresh input from the Bishop of London.

“Members of chapter this morning have met with representatives from the protest camp to demonstrate that St Paul’s intends to engage directly and constructively with both the protesters and the moral and ethical issues they wish to address, without the threat of forcible eviction hanging over both the camp and the church.”

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