10/27/2011

Canon Giles Fraser, The Best of what we can be.

Canon Giles Fraser, a wonderful Christian, a powerful voice for inclusion, and an all around great guy, has done it again: He has protested the removal of Occupy London folk from the doorsteps of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. I have been honored to know him through the work of the Chicago Consultation where he was a strong presence. Here is the full Episcopal News Service story: 

ENGLAND: St. Paul's canon chancellor resigns after cathedral supports legal steps to remove protesters Cathedral announces plans to reopen on Friday By ENS staff, October 27, 2011 
[Episcopal News Service]

The Rev. Giles Fraser has resigned as canon chancellor of St. Paul's Cathedral in London because senior clerics at the centuries-old religious institution allegedly support legal action to remove the Occupy London protesters who've camped outside since Oct. 16. "It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St. Paul's Cathedral," Fraser said in a Twitter post on Oct. 27 after informing the cathedral dean and chapter of his decision. A former vicar of Putney, he assumed his cathedral position in June 2009. The Guardian newspaper subsequently quoted Fraser as saying that he'd resigned "because I believe that the chapter has set on a course of action that could mean there will be violence in the name of the church."

St. Paul's Cathedral has since Oct. 21 been closed to visitors and worshipers for the first time since World War II because of what it called health and safety risks posed by the protesters. The cathedral, which reportedly is losing up to £20,000 ($31,000) for each day it remains closed, said it will reopen with a lunchtime service on Oct. 28 now that "staff have been able to deal with a list of safety concerns."

The protesters have said they've honored all requests from cathedral and city authorities to ensure that the camp is orderly, doesn't block any building entranceways and complies with health and safety standards. The City of London Corporation on Oct. 26 issued a statement saying that it was seeking "the full range of options — including court action" to clear protesters, a move senior cathedral staff reportedly support.

When the protesters arrived on Oct. 15, cathedral staff took a different stance, which Fraser has maintained. On Oct. 16, Fraser said that he supported people's rights to protest peacefully, and he asked the police to leave the building "because I didn't feel it needed that sort of protection."

In a statement released by St. Paul's press office, Cathedral Dean Graeme Knowles said that Fraser "has brought a unique contribution to the life and ministry of St. Paul's, and we will be very sorry to see him go. "He has developed the work of the St. Paul's Institute and has raised the profile of our work in the city," Knowles said. "We are obviously disappointed that he is not able to continue to his work with [the] chapter during these challenging days. We will miss his humor and humanity and wish Giles and his family every good wish into the future."

The process to appoint Fraser's successor will begin soon, the statement said, noting that the post of canon chancellor "is a crown appointment," meaning that the queen would need to ratify any candidate chosen by a nominations commission.

Diocese of London Bishop Richard Chartres said that he "heard, with regret," the news of Fraser's resignation. "His is an important voice in the church, and I have offered to meet him immediately to discuss how we can ensure it continues to be heard."

The London protest, calling itself the Occupy London Stock Exchange, is part of a worldwide demonstration of anger against economic injustice and greed. The campaign originated in New York, where Trinity Episcopal Church posted a statement on its website Oct. 5 inviting Occupy Wall Street protesters to use the congregation’s facilities and staff for rest, revitalization and pastoral care.

On Oct. 20, Trinity hosted a meeting of interfaith leaders, including Episcopal Diocese of Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, discussing ways to support the movement.

The protests, begun in New York on Sept. 17 and inspired by the Arab Spring movement, have spread to more than 2,100 locations, including other major cities such as Chicago, Miami, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Tokyo. 

Giles Fraser drawn by Adrian Worsfold
Well, there it is then: Fraser has done a remarkable thing in a world where too many hold their positions too dearly. He has, of course, only solidified his position as (as MadPriest would say) BRICK OF THE DAY.  Thanks be to God for such witness.

44 comments:

  1. Very moving, principled action by Giles Fraser. Thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We could all do with more witness to the gospel.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Canon Giles Fraser, ought soon be Archbishop of Canterbury. Giles Fraser is a truly down-to-earth Thinking Anglican and brave man.

    It´s way past time for our ¨first amongst¨ to actually understand the difference between pandering to bigots, ignoring crimes of hate, acknowledging the thieves (Gafconning folks outside of Zimbabwe who cross provincial borders to poach on other people properties) and a person who will face professional greedsters at Church who protect themselves but blackball others less well-placed.

    Simply walking amongst the least of us and offering understanding, hope for justice and REAL MEDIATION/LISTENING (not some safe/selective chums meet up at Lambeth Conference every ten years).

    ALL of the least of us (yes, especially in the Diocese of London/Canterbury/York, Church of England) need a wholesome spirit to reinitiate common sense, stress basics and decency and especially face REALITY (as opposed to superstitious deadly nonsense directed against the marginalized at Church) to/with Anglicans both at Lambeth Palace and throughout the Anglican Communion.

    We have a Anglican Hero in Desmond Tutu, but it´s time for Canon Fraser too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bravo to Fr. Fraser.

    Such a pointed contrast to so many of our evangelical celebrities like Pat Robertson who continue to eagerly shill for the corporate oligarchy. I can't imagine any of them giving up any part of their lucrative broadcasting and entertainment businesses to actually take a stand on behalf of the very people who make up their flocks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Two things here, in addition to bravos for Canon Giles Fraser's bold and proper stand:
    The enormous "income" being lost everyday is from the tourists and visitors who must PAY an exorbitant amount to enter God's House, even if they just wish to pray.
    And
    Seeing the news of OWS groups around the world, being tear-gassed and attacked and handcuffed and persecuted brings to mind the same sort of ugliness against Viet-nam and other war protesters, and more recently Egyptians and others seeking relief from totalitarian regimes... it's pretty scary to see it happening here in the Land of the Free. Is that no longer the way we do things, allowing the rights of free speech and peaceable assembly ??? With the sound turned off it would have been difficult to differentiate some of these events.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am glad to hear that Canon Frasier's bishop is supportive of his ministry. But hopefully this will make the "higher ups" recognize that we do not need to fear those who gather peacefully unless we have been co-opted by those who oppress.

    A new church is beginning to speak in the UK and it is not established.

    WV= slobsen

    ReplyDelete
  7. A bold, brave move AND a brilliant strategy. Bravo, Giles. Well done. Good form, old man.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Nice to hear from former ABC George Carey.

    A reality check.

    ReplyDelete
  9. DioFW, what would be wrong with a judicious application of tear-gas? All the protesters have done is close down one of Great Britain's principal places of worship, so I'm sure none of them are shedding any tears.

    There were some of the "abolish money" etc crowd around when I was part of an English Defence League march in London; they were trying to drown us out as we raised awareness of female genital mutilation and child marriage. Go figure.

    ReplyDelete
  10. English Defence League. Go figure? Say no more.

    Giles Fraser makes interesting comments in The Guardian that might see a difference between the grand and the lowly when it comes to understanding Church. He can imagine Jesus born in a tent, he says, so obviously you don't do violence to people in tents.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Raised awareness of "....female genital mutilation and child marriage". And awareness of what else, Ed?

    English Defence League.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Where was Giles Fraser when I needed him? Where was any high profile member of the Inclusive Church when I needed them? Where was any English cleric when I needed them? Probably speaking about justice and Jesus at a conference somewhere or giving an interview to the BBC.

    Giles Fraser believes that bloggers should shut up because they don't know what they are talking about and that comment should be restricted to qualified thinkers like himself. But if it wasn't for bloggers his resignation would really be a sacrifice.

    Please note, as I have made clear on my own blog, I envy Giles. He fights for others and always wins for himself. I fight for others and lose everything.

    ReplyDelete
  13. ::places tongue firmly in cheek::

    This CoE expert provides riveting commentary;
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/reverend-peter-ould/turbulent-priests-and-tur_b_1063176.html

    ::tongue returned to relaxed position::

    I always though that HuffPost was more discriminating, but they have given this ass world recognition. Perhaps since it was sold, they have become more open to prostitution.

    h/t to the Crazy Rabbit @ Father Troll's place

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a tempest in a teapot. The Chronicles of Irrelevance.

    Do people reading the broadsheets really care very much about tents at the Cathedral?

    Lean news times. I can't imagine that in 10 weeks anyone will even remember this news-less happening.

    Samuel

    WV: tamani (as in 'Hall')

    ReplyDelete
  15. Canon (will he be allowed to keep the title as an emeritus when he goes?) Fraser is a man of integrity who has attracted much sympathetic support in the C of E for his stand.

    He is reported to be 'scared' about his future as he faces unemployment, although this has not stopped his principled stand.

    However, he has probably and inadvertently made the finest career move of his working life. His friends and highly placed supporters will see he doesn't have to join the protestors in one of their tents. He will very likely become the new Dean of Southwark (the big diocese in the south of London whose cathedral top post is currently vacant and is only half a mile over the river from St Paul's) or if not that something similar. I have no doubt that he will then continue to be a 'thorn in the flesh' of the English establishment.

    In the meantime there will be blood on the carpet or more precisely on the steps of St Paul's when the protestors are evicted.

    Apart from Canon Fraser, neither St Paul's, the Dean, the Chapter, nor the Bishop of London have come out of this well.

    Most thinking people cannot but make an association with Jesus as portrayed in Mark 11 & 12, Matthew 21, Luke 19 & 21 and John 2 - hey ho!

    ReplyDelete
  16. At last a fundamental issue of modern life that directly touches the lives of millions of people, an issue which Our Lord discussed at great length in the Gospel with great passion, social justice; and it lands right on the steps of a major cathedral. The C of E hierarchy react like the privileged bureaucrats that they are, they call the lawyers, mumble, or retreat into their palaces. An opportunity to engage a central issue of the Gospel message with which the world is urgently concerned, and they squander it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. He is not unemployed. He probably makes more from his side projects than he ever made from his lousy stipend.

    There are plenty of priests who have spoken out against the hypocrisy of the Church who are unemployed. They are the ones who didn't have friends at The Guardian and the BBC. Who didn't have contacts at Oxford University. Who don't get invited to be the "thinker in residence" at The Radio Three weekend in Newcastle.

    Giles Fraser will come out of this with a dean's job and he will be a bishop one day. If not in England somewhere else where people are impressed by celebrities.

    ReplyDelete
  18. MadPriest

    Nice reality check. Very ambitious, very calculated, no losses financial or otherwise.

    And what an irrelevancy compared with suffering for the Gospel in the places where the majority of Christians live and bear witness.

    Silly UK intramuralism. Lord have mercy. Show us what your suffering was really about and what it accomplished.

    Samuel

    ReplyDelete
  19. MadPriest

    Nice reality check. Very ambitious, very calculated, no losses financial or otherwise.

    And what an irrelevancy compared with suffering for the Gospel in the places where the majority of Christians live and bear witness.

    Silly UK intramuralism. Lord have mercy. Show us what your suffering was really about and what it accomplished.

    Samuel

    ReplyDelete
  20. The program reproduced my comments due to malfunction.

    Sincere apologies, in Christ

    Samuel

    ReplyDelete
  21. Pontificating and smartass-ing beats the hell out of plain old pontificating, doesn't it, Sammy?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Monsieur Coq le Combat:

    Kindly direct your rebarbative insults to MadPriest.


    Grace and peace

    Samuel

    ReplyDelete
  23. Friends: starting with MP's comments, some of which are a bit passionately those of a bright wonderful clergy person for whom the system has done little, there has been a rather nasty bit of give and take.

    I admire Giles, I admire MP. I don't much like what is going on here.

    MP is more often a day to day pastor through his prayer and light a candle pages. Giles is more often a voice I hear and heed. I value both. I hope readers here do to.

    What Giles did he did not have to do. Much of what MP does he seems to have to do. Either way, they are more like the church I want to be part of than people who neither stand when they have to or stand when they must, but sit it out and mutter from the bleachers.

    'nuf said.

    Please, move on.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Please, move on.

    That would be nice. Unfortunately, I don't have the right sort of friends.

    ReplyDelete
  25. so, do people really want to support the right for anybody to camp out in front of your church (on church land) ....or on your garden.... in a democracy in which they can stand in electtion and if they have the support of just 51% (not the 99% they claim), they can win and change the system...? what if you do not like the group which chooses to camp on your land....still going to defend their right to occupy your land? St Pauls have been tolerant for 2 weeks...they asked the police to stand back....they made space for the protesters...... now, when they and Giles Fraser politely ask the protesters to move on, they refuse....... because, they say, the couple of hundred of them speak for the 99%..... despite their absence in elections to get that mandate........... anyway, support illegal occupations in democracies.....and one will come to you one day....... and it might be the Klan or someone else seeking to "Occupy the US" or something..... not what any of us would want.....maybe we should support legal protest in democracies? Stand in elections...if the 99% support these occupiers, they will win and can change the system ....... wonderful thing, democracy..... if it is used.

    ReplyDelete
  26. MP

    While not PR-worthy, your ministry is valued and important.

    You also don't put fellow Christians in bleachers.

    Samuel

    ReplyDelete
  27. We see now that the Dean has stood down.

    Can someone explain:

    1. why does a protest have to consist of tents and over-night stays? Why can't people protest all day and night and not sleep rough in high-end tents?
    2. why is the protest at the cathedral and not at the stock exchange?
    3. what bathroom facilities and clean water and cooking provisions are available?

    Thank you.

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  28. good questions Jim..... just as the NY occupations are not upsetting Clinton and Bush for their light regulation or any banks..... seems like some small groups like to camp anywhere - who are they helping in any way? I would be impressed if they did something useful.....eg help the homeless who do not have fancy tents but live on those streets..... and if you have the support of the "the 99%" stand in local and national elections, get elected....change the system....seriously, why not do that?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Yes, it sounds like the protesters saw the Cathedral as a soft touch, as compared with the Stock Exchange. And for their efforts, the Cathedral is now paying the price. Church as chump.

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  30. The protestors were driven away from the London Stock Exchange.

    The health authorities are satisfied with the facilities of the protestors.

    Why the huge disparities in income between the rich and the poor?

    And why wouldn't the church be a soft touch for the poor and those who advocate for the poor? It seems only right to me. Jesus was pretty much of a soft touch himself.

    ReplyDelete
  31. What were the protestors driven away in? I hope it was something nice, like a Rolls Royce or an Aston Martin.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Why were they driven away? We hear much embrace of violence, as inevitable, as the Police sweep in to dismantle expensive tents, etc.

    Why not then bear up against the 'driving away' at the LSE? Do the police use different kinds of clubs in one place or the other?

    And is this even factual?

    And what does it mean that the Cathedral is a legitimate 'soft touch'? I'm glad I haven't lost my job because of a my being a 'soft-touch' alternative to standing one's ground at the LSE.

    And let's not just glue Jesus Christ onto whatever cause we favour, making him now a 'soft-touch.' His path to the cross was borne with drops of blood like sweat, the evangelists tell us. Why, so that protestors could camp out at a Cathedral instead of a Stock Exchange?

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  33. And is this even factual?

    Jim, look it up. Google is your friend.

    ReplyDelete
  34. So that's it? Look it up?

    What about the actual reality and for that matter the comment of MP?

    Let me take out that sentence, and perhaps you can enlighten and not avoid.

    **
    Why were they driven away? We hear much embrace of violence, as inevitable, as the Police sweep in to dismantle expensive tents, etc.

    Why not then bear up against the 'driving away' at the LSE? Do the police use different kinds of clubs in one place or the other?

    And what does it mean that the Cathedral is a legitimate 'soft touch'? I'm glad I haven't lost my job because of a my being a 'soft-touch' alternative to standing one's ground at the LSE.

    And let's not just glue Jesus Christ onto whatever cause we favour, making him now a 'soft-touch.' His path to the cross was borne with drops of blood like sweat, the evangelists tell us. Why, so that protestors could camp out at a Cathedral instead of a Stock Exchange?

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  35. The Times:

    "...some genuine campaigners left the camp in disgust over its descent into what one described as a place for bawdy hedonism, drink and drugs."

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  36. Mimi,

    I have to admire you - people like Jim and you still believe humanity has a chance!

    ReplyDelete
  37. "...so that protestors could camp out at a Cathedral instead of a Stock Exchange?" They went to St Paul's only when their path to the Stock Exchange, their original target, was blocked by the police. Why would the cops "protect" the Stock Exchange but not a church, you may ask.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Closer to the truth is that the protestors were moved on and Giles Fraser acted on his own in inviting them to stay at St Pauls, else the entire debacle would not have happened. He acted unilaterally and then when he was not supported, after creating the situation, he resigned.

    And what has been accomplished in all this? Nought.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Curious it is that those who want little or no regulation for corporations are eager to tightly regulate rights of free speech and assembly. Confine the angry unwashed rabble to "free speech zones" where they can do and say anything they want, but only because it doesn't matter.

    The right calls itself small government or even anti-government. Baloney! The right is only interested in rolling back government in regards to property rights. In all other areas of life, they are eager to expand the scope and the powers of the state, from making war to police powers over everything from who believes in what to who sleeps with whom.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I think domiciling yourself in a tent is a lazy form of protest. It looks in on itself and not outward at the problem. It becomes a circus of drink, drugs and lots of fun. Lazy and ineffective.


    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'll bow to your first hand experience of the situation, Jim.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Jim, or whatever you're calling yourself this week,

    Come on up to New York and join me in Zuccotti Park this Sunday at 3:30 for the weekly interfaith prayer service.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Look's like the inclusion of Mad Priest in the kudos for Fraser didn't work out too well.

    FM

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.