After the eviction of Occupy LSX from the land outside St. Paul’s Cathedral there are many who are hurt.
Christians who had formed the “Ring of Prayer” initiative were praying on the steps of the cathedral when the police dragged them away, with the report of at least one policeman kicking a praying Christian.
Yet the presence of Christians and others praying and urging a peaceful eviction did bear fruit, and the eviction was largely a peaceful affair. The majority of the protesters left without needing to be forcibly removed, and though there were reports of some water bottles being thrown by a hardcore group who built a makeshift “fort” the level of violence was remarkable by its absence.
An excellent report in the Independent highlighted one concern: how much and how willingly was the Cathedral involved? Jerome Taylor and Charlie Cooper at The Independent write:
A carefully worded statement released by St Paul’s after the eviction made no mention of the forcible removals from the steps of the cathedral. Instead, it effectively welcomed the clearance of the camp, stating only that the cathedral regretted that such a removal had to be done by bailiffs.
“In the past few months, we have all been made to re-examine important issues about social and economic justice and the role the cathedral can play,” the statement said. “We regret the camp had to be removed by bailiffs but we are fully committed to continuing to promote these issues through our worship, teaching and [the St Paul’s] Institute.”
Indeed there were reports that after the Cathedral lights were briefly turned off just before the eviction began police could be seen on the building balconies. Such reports led to speculation that the cathedral was actively facilitating the eviction, yet at the present time it is seeming that those on the balconies of the cathedral were not police.
The events with the floodlights, and St. Paul’s following comments, leave important questions laying unanswered as to how pro-active the St. Paul’s authorities were in the eviction. A spokesperson for St. Paul’s made a comment when pressed saying:
“The police did not ask for permission from us regarding any aspect of the action taken last night, but we were clear that we would not stand in the way of the legal process or prevent the police from taking the steps they needed to deal with the situation in an orderly and peaceful manner,”
It either shows naivety or dis-ingenuity that St. Paul’s would not realise that such a green light to the police would be taken in a sweeping manner, and a video from the night shows police telling Christians on the steps that they did have permission from the cathedral to remove them.
Yet the eviction is passed. It was largely peaceful and for that we must be very grateful. That many Christians have stood up and sought peace in this matter testifies to the love and grace that Jesus grants us.
As such, we must now move on. St. Paul’s Cathedral were in an unenviable position given their strong links with the City. I believe they made a series of blunders and moral failings. Yet we must forgive and move on. No profit is to be found in constantly berating past mistakes. Church Peace seeks peace, and peace cannot occur when bitterness and desire for revenge of any sort is harboured. As God has forgiven us, let us now forgive St. Paul’s and pray that the future may be brighter for the cathedral than it may appear at this time.