The Church of England was facing a grass-roots revolt from within its own ranks last night after a retired reverend used a rearranged Sunday morning service at St Paul's Cathedral to pledge solidarity with the protesters camped outside.
Reverend Dennis Nadin said he would write to the dean of the cathedral demanding an explanation about the exact "health-and-safety reasons" under which it was closed on Friday – the first time such an action has been taken since the Blitz.
He told The Independent that the protesters' message was "absolutely what God would be saying". "He [God] provided abundant resources for everyone in the world, but they have been unfairly distributed in a way that means people are starving," he said.
The retired reverend, from Harlow, Essex, promised to join protesters in their cause and insisted the cathedral was "losing kudos" by asking them to move on. "The Church should be in full support of this and the cathedral should be willing to bare a little bit of pain and inconvenience," he added. Rev Nadin decided to make a stand after taking exception to Reverend Dr Alan McCormack's sermon, which he delivered to worshippers at the nearby church of St Vedast-alias-Foster due to the closure of St Paul's. "By now it has become clear that the demonstration in St Paul's' churchyard is imperilling the inclusive vision which is the centre of the cathedral's status as a holy place," Rev McCormack said.
Rev Nadin's intervention marks a new low in relations between the Occupy London movement and St Paul's, which has reversed its initial welcoming stance and closed its doors to visitors, citing health-and-safety concerns. Speaking shortly after spontaneously addressing an alternative morning sermon, Rev Nadin told The Independent: "[The Dean] may have good reason to close it. There may be even legal requirements. But there is no need for him to call for people to go. If these people are saying the world is an unfair place and some of our resources are to be redistributed to correct that, I'm all for it. And I think Jesus would be for it too."
On Saturday night, the demonstrators, who have now taken their protest into a second week, claimed another camp in Finsbury Square, a little over a mile from St Paul's and a stone's throw from the Deutsche Bank headquarters. More than 100 tents remain at the initial site. "It feels like I'm doing something worth standing up for, so... I'll be here for Christmas," said protester Sam Shaw, 22. "It's a bit cold at night and the bells are really loud but it's still a great atmosphere."
Clad in their Sunday best, the tourists and worshippers milling around the steps of St Paul's struck a very different note to those camped below. "I came all this way for today's choral service; this is where Diana got married and it's sad to see what's happened here," said Fernanda Danas, 26, from Sao Paulo in Brazil.