St Paul’s has been thrown into crisis with the news that the Dean, Graeme Knowles, had resigned with immediate effect. The Church Times broke the story. According to the Guardian’s Peter Walker, the Bishop of London has said that the loss of Knowles is a “tragedy”.
This comes just days after the resignation of Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser, who objected to the decision for St Paul’s to take legal action against the Occupy the London Stock Exchange protesters camped outside the building.
On Friday, Knowles announced that the cathedral would seek an injunction against the protesters, provoking a barrage of criticism. Fraser said that eviction would constitute “violence in the name of the Church”.
On resigning, Knowles said that “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”. He added:
It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as Dean of St Paul’s was becoming untenable.
In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul’s, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised. I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the Chapter of this great cathedral.
The Archbishop of Canterbury made the following statement:
The announcement today of the resignation of the Dean of St Paul’s, coming as it does in the wake of the resignation of Canon Giles Fraser last week, is very sad news. The events of the last couple of weeks have shown very clearly how decisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and unwelcome consequences, and the clergy of St Paul’s deserve our understanding in these circumstances.
Graeme Knowles has been a very distinguished Dean of St Paul’s, who has done a great deal to strengthen the pastoral and intellectual life of the Cathedral and its involvement in the life of London. He will be much missed, and I wish him and Susan well in whatever lies ahead.
The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul’s remain very much on the table and we need – as a Church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed.