When I heard the words of the Bishop of London on the news this morning all hope fled. The Bishop said: "Nevertheless, the time has come for the protesters to leave, before the camp's presence threatens to eclipse entirely the issues that it was set up to address."The Dean and the Chapter, who are responsible for St Paul's, have already made it clear that the protest should come to an end and I fully support that view."
There is something quite heavy handed in this message. Perhaps not in the words but certainly in the tone. Does it smack of belonging to the establishment? Is it extremely patriatchal and patronising in telling a group of people that they have had their day and insinuating that it is now time to join the real world? Whatever the reason it represents a lost golden opportunity to engage with a populist movement which is a message bearer for the woes of the world.
I was in Toronto last week and visited 'Occupy Toronto'. Individual groups may seem like splinters of misfits and Swampyesque types but what I saw in Toronto was a quest for justice and a global cohesion in their objective. It is extremely foolish and feeble minded to think that the group outside St. Paul's are a bunch of stand alone mischief makers.
The church has given up a golden opportunity to engage in a way which would have been perceived as bringing our thinking into, right bang, contemporary mode. Even The Guardian takes this view: '…the role of the church is to talk with them and to find out how their sense of injustice at the present slump can be refined and educated and brought out into the wider conversation…;
What role for the church then? Secularists will have a field day. The church looks like it is standing with the establishment by repudiating the needs of the protesters. The humanitarian reason for religious intervention rings hollow. St, Paul's has to stand for more than just architectural magnificence.