St Paul’s Cathedral announces closure due to ‘Occupy’ protesters

It seemed a gesture of Christian tolerance when a clergyman at St Paul’s Cathedral told police to allow anti-capitalist protesters camped outside to continue their demonstration.

Richard Alleyne, James Hall and Lucy Burton
Telegraph [UK]
21 Oct 2011

But the alliance appeared to be faltering yesterday as St Paul’s closed for the first time since the Blitz [of WWII], claiming it had no choice because of the dangers posed by the growing numbers on its doorstep.

With 250 people living in the London churchyard, the “unprecedented” decision, which will cost the church £23,000 a day, was announced by the dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles.

Although he supported the protesters’ right to be heard, he said, he now asked that they leave.

The decision was met with criticism from both sides. One American tourist, who had planned to go to evensong, said: “I guess you reap what you sow. They should have nipped this in the bud.”

Protesters described the decision as a “shame” and voted to ignore the plea.

The dean said it had been made after discussions by the cathedral chapter, its governing body. He said that as the camp had grown it posed a risk of fire and harm to thousands of tourists and worshippers who visit Sir Christopher Wren’s 17th century masterpiece every day.

“The decision to close St Paul’s Cathedral is unprecedented in modern times,” Mr Knowles told a press conference. “We have done this with a very heavy heart, but it is simply not possible to fulfil our day-to-day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims.”

The last time St Paul’s closed for a significant period was for four days in September 1940 when an unexploded bomb was found near the south-west tower…

The article continues, with video, at the Telegraph.

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