Women in cathedral pulpit protest
Four women from the Occupy movement have chained themselves to the pulpit in London's St Paul's Cathedral during evensong.
The women interrupted the service, shouted a list of grievances against the cathedral and read part of the Bible, according to a statement from St Paul's.
The service was then allowed to continue as the women, one in a wheelchair, remained chained to the ornate, carved pulpit under the cathedral's famous dome. The women received communion, with the priests taking the service coming over to the pulpit to do so.
The women cut themselves free around 10pm after City of London Police entered the cathedral, an occupy spokesman said. He said they decided to cut themselves free after being warned by officers that they faced arrest. "They have now left the cathedral," he said. "Some of the awareness-raising they wanted to do has been done. The Dean has also agreed to meet them and talk."
The action came as the anti-greed group marks the anniversary of its now dismantled protest camp outside the cathedral. The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul's, said he and a member of Occupy Faith, the group's religious wing, were leading a prayer when the women came up and started shouting, saying: "It will be a long cold night if they want to stay there. I don't know what they want to do. I'm just sorry they have decided to do this, which makes it hard for members of Occupy Faith, who have been working together with us on something which is respectful."
The Dean came to speak to the protesters after the evening service, and asked them to engage in talks with him and other church figures. One of the protesters criticised St Paul's for accepting money from Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs, saying: "Christianity will not die if you cannot keep the cathedral open. You don't need this money."
The Dean told the protesters they had been "discourteous" to interrupt the service, but added that he wanted to see the cathedral working together with groups including Occupy to help change people's lives: "Ultimately what we are working for and what you are working for is going in the same direction."
Charity worker and Christianity Uncut member Siobhan Grimes, 25, one of the four women who chained themselves to the pulpit, said she was unhappy that promised talks with the Dean had not materialised after last year's protest. "I think it is really important to speak up as Christians who believe in social justice and who believe in the aims of Occupy to say 'this is part of my faith'," she said. "We don't have to be in conflict with the religious institutions because we believe in the teachings of Jesus."
Occupy London released a statement which said they were collaborating with Christianity Uncut to call for the leadership of St Paul's to "stop sitting on the fence and join the fight against rising inequality in the UK and beyond". A message on the anti-corporate group's Twitter page also said they were protesting in solidarity with Russian protest punks Pussy Riot, two of whom remain in jail.
Last year hundreds of people set up camp outside St Paul's on October 15 after they were prevented from entering nearby Paternoster Square, where the London Stock Exchange is located, and remained there for four months. The church, caught in a conflict between the demonstrators and London's finance industry, changed its stance on the camp several times.