U-turns at St Paul's but camps still worlds apart

Late changes of tack by the Church and the City of London have been welcomed by protesters occupying Paternoster Square. But the chances of an easy resolution to the stand-off remain slim

The Church of England yesterday attempted to extricate itself from the political and moral quagmire created by its handling of tensions between God and Mammon in the City of London when it announced it was abandoning legal action against anti-capitalist protesters who have set up camp outside St Paul's Cathedral.

Click to HERE view graphic

In a day of fast-moving developments in the fortnight-long stand-off between the demonstrators and the Square Mile's civil and ecclesiastical authorities, the Bishop of London and the cathedral's governing body staged a dramatic volte face by saying they wanted to engage "directly and constructively" with the protesters and would no longer seek an eviction order to clear the 200-tent camp.

The change of stance, which had previously seen the bishop, Richard Chartres, explicitly lend his support to legal action to end the protest, placed the cathedral on a collision course with the City of London Corporation. The municipal body, which owns much of the land surrounding St Paul's, later announced it had "paused" until today its own eviction proceedings.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, last night entered the eviction row by saying the Church of England had become an unwitting lightning conductor for societal discontent at the financial sector and it has a role to play in seeking solutions. Writing in the Financial Times, Dr Williams said: "The Church of England and the Church Universal have a proper interest in the ethics of the financial world and in the question of whether our financial practices serve those who need to be served – or have simply become idols that themselves demand uncritical service."

In a statement which amounted to an admission by the Church of England that it had mishandled its response to the arrival of the Occupy London Stock Exchange (OSLX) protest camp, Dr Chartres and the Chapter of St Paul's said a "unanimous" decision had been reached to focus on the "moral and ethical" issues raised by the demonstrators without the "threat of forcible eviction" by the cathedral.

The bishop, who is now in charge of the cathedral's response to the crisis following the resignation on Monday of its dean, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, announced that Giles Fraser, the former canon chancellor who resigned last week in protest at the eviction plans, would return to take part in an initiative aimed at "reconnecting the financial with the ethical". Dr Chartres has also invited Ken Costa, a senior City figure and a devout Christian, to take part in the project.

He said: "Alarm bells are ringing all over the world. St Paul's has now heard that call. Today's decision means the doors are most emphatically open to engage with matters concerning not only those encamped around the cathedral but millions of others in this country and around the globe."

Religious commentators and some clergy had hitherto underlined the difficulty faced by St Paul's because of its close relationship with the City. It has raised £40m in the past decade through charitable donations from banks and institutions including the City of London Corporation and the London Stock Exchange – both targets of the protesters.

Mary Singer, a spokesman for OSLX, said: "We are all very happy to see that the threat of court proceedings against the camp is being reviewed by the City. It is important that our right to protest is respected. As the Cathedral has agreed, the occupation is here to fight for a more just, democratic society."

The peacemaker? Ken Costa

If not God's banker, then Ken Costa is perhaps as close as the Square Mile comes to a godly banker. The South African-born financier had an unusual preparation for the City by studying theology at Cambridge.

He nonetheless rose to the highest echelons of the City, becoming vice-chairman of the Swiss bank UBS and chairman of Lazard International.

His devout Christianity has seen him become chairman of the Alpha Course, which introduces millions to the faith. But he has also highlighted the need for global capitalism to respond to growing popular anger, describing a "pressing need to reconnect the financial with the ethical" or "risk the consequences".

Suggested Topics
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Support Technician (2nd Line / Server Support) - Bedford

£24000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: 2nd line IT Support Techn...


£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Science Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Are you a qualified science t...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments