St Paul’s Cathedral caught between God and Mammon in London’s Occupy protest
St Paul’s Cathedral, in the heart of London’s financial district, has always occupied a delicate spot between God and Mammon. The tent protest on its doorstep has turned it into an excruciating one.
The domed church, which survived the blitz while London burnt in World War Two, has lost two senior clergy over its handling of the anti-capitalist protesters who set up camp over two weeks ago, after being blocked from the nearby London Stock Exchange.
The uninvited guests have ignited a clash between Church of England principles and the practicalities of running London’s largest cathedral, which attracts 820,000 visitors from around the world a year.
“It would have been impossible for St Paul’s to give full-throated support to the protests,” said Paul Bickley, a commentator with religious think tank Theos.
“St Paul’s can challenge the City but it can’t be against the City. Those bankers are part of its parish,” he added.
Money and morality are entangled in a stand-off that has thrust Britain’s main Christian church into an unwanted spotlight.
Chris Potter, archdeacon of the St Asaph diocese in Wales, said the authorities had bungled the situation.
“They must get a lot of resources from the City of London. Like all of us, they are compromised,” he told Reuters during a visit to the encampment.