The perceived dithering and divisions of church officials over the protest camp outside St Paul’s in London have claimed a second major scalp with the resignation of the cathedral’s dean, the Right Rev Graham Knowles.
The dean – whose job is sufficiently senior that a replacement must be approved by the Queen – announced that mounting criticism over the cathedral’s handling of the situation made his position “untenable”.
In a statement read on his behalf to the media at the Chapter House, opposite St Paul’s, Knowles said: “In recent days, since the arrival of the protesters’ camp outside the cathedral, we have all been put under a great deal of strain and have faced what would appear to be some insurmountable issues.
"I hope and pray that under new leadership these issues might continue to be addressed and that there might be a swift and peaceful resolution."
Last week the St Paul’s canon chancellor, Giles Fraser, stepped down after the cathedral’s governing chapter voted to begin possible legal action against the Occupy the London Stock Exchange camp, in place now for 16 days. A part-time cleric also resigned.
Cathedral elders have faced criticism not just over the possibility that force and violence will be used to evict the camp, but for the decision to close the cathedral for a week over health and safety concerns that remain unclear. The church has also experienced wider condemnation for failing to properly and publicly agitate on the excesses of finance and global banking until prompted to by the camp, part of a burgeoning global movement.