Posted to THE GUARDIAN:
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!