Another resignation at St Paul’s amid protest uproar

By Alex Stevenson

St Paul's cathedral has been hit by another resignation, with the Dean's departure prompting an intervention from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Rowan Williams said there were "urgent issues" raised by the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest – and how it had been handled by Church authorities – following the departure of the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles.

The former Dean said his position had become "untenable" amid mounting criticism of the cathedral from "the press, media and public opinion".

"In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul's, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised," he said in a statement.

"I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the chapter of this great cathedral."

St Paul's had reopened after a week-long closure on Friday which is thought to have cost it around £140,000.

But it attracted negative comments over the weekend following its announcement that it would seek an injunction to remove the anti-capitalist protesters' encampment in Paternoster Square.

The dean was even singled out for criticism by the former head of the Church of England, George Carey, who lamented the "debacle" in an article for the Telegraph newspaper on Friday.

His resignation follows that of Canon Giles Fraser, who had initially welcomed the protesters to church grounds. He said he could not support steps which "could mean there will be violence in the name of the church".

Concern about the way the cathedral has handled the situation has now prompted comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Speaking publicly on the Occupy protest and its implications for the first time, Dr Williams said: "The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul's remain very much on the table and we need – as a Church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed."

Cathedral clerics have voted to request the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, to assist them as an 'independent voice'.

He echoed Dr Williams' sentiments, saying: "I have repeated over the past few weeks my own desire to shift the attention to the economic and moral challenges which our country, in common with so much of the rest of the world, is having to face.

"There are many diverse voices in the camp outside St Paul's but among them, serious issues are being articulated which the cathedral has always sought to address.

"While St Paul's is not on any particular political side – that is not its role – it does have an important part to play in providing a place for reasoned debate within a moral and spiritual context."