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Manchester Deans 'Surprised' By St Paul's Closure

Paul Berentzen and Jonathan Schofield talk to the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church

Published on November 1st 2011.

Manchester Deans 'Surprised' By St Paul's Closure

AFTER the headlines and resignations concerning St Paul’s Cathedral in London, we asked what  the reactionwould have been from Manchester’s Cathedrals to tent cities appearing outside their doors.

“Yes, any closure of the Cathedral would have to be for a specific emergency I couldn’t see a situation where we would close for a long time.”

There was some sympathy but hints that in Manchester and Salford, things might have been different. 

At Manchester Cathedral, the Dean, the Right Reverend Rogers Govender, said: “I was very surprised that St Paul’s felt they had to close the Cathedral. Very surprised. Every situation has its own kind of reasoning behind it and each Dean has their own autonomy to make decisions with their colleagues. 

“I think if there were immediate dangers to the public then after careful consultation a decision could be taken in Manchester to close the Cathedral - but it would be a last, last resort.” 

Does he think that the Church has been harmed by accusations of being un-Christian in seeking to move the protesters from in front of St Paul’s? 

“That’s very difficult but not necessarily. The important thing is for our Church to be the ones that initiate dialogue between parties, to seek understanding."

And what about the resignation of the Dean at St Pauls, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles?

"It’s a shame that the Dean of St Paul’s has had to resign over the issue. I can see why that action has been taken. Still I have sympathy for him and I know him reasonably well. I hope he finds another role, after all he’s only 60.” 

Dean RogersThe Right Reverend Rogers GovinderDean Rogers Govinder would also find it hard to sanction closure beyond a limited period of trouble. 

“Yes, any closure of the Cathedral would have to be for a specific emergency. I couldn’t see a situation where we would close for a long time,” he said. 

Across the River Irwell and three quarters of a mile away, Canon Tony McBride, Dean of the Roman Catholic Salford Cathedral, says he understands the disruption that can be caused by public protest. 

Marches planned to coincide with the Conservative Conference earlier this month ended up disturbing Sunday mass when they got diverted. 

He said: “There’s no point marching, in what might be a valid protest, if you end up annoying your neighbours and it starts disrupting people. People should co-operate.” 

This sentiment extends to protestors camping outside St Paul’s, he suggests. They are harming others and, therefore, their own cause by staying put. 

“People should be allowed peaceful protests,” he said. “But you have to realise that there are other people getting on with their lives. It is a matter of co-operation.” 

The move to close St Paul’s is extreme, he argues. After all, Salford Cathedral hasn’t let months of building work stop them accepting visitors. 

The Cathedral noticed a downturn in visitors when renovation work started in the area three months ago. 

As a result, the front of the Cathedral has been boarded up, which means people who don’t know the area well might not be able to find it easily. 

Canon McBride said: “There are fewer people coming. People come to us from a wide area on a Sunday and rather than struggle to find us, they will find a church more local to them.” 

He anticipates the situation will last for another couple of months but says they will just have to try to make the best of a bad situation. 

“We have to put up with the things that happen in the world around us,” he said. 

A bit like at St Paul’s. 

While he didn’t know the specific details of the situation at St Paul’s, he questioned the decision to close the Cathedral. 

He said: “Surely they could have ensured there was an entrance through the obstruction. That’s what we did here.” 

As with his opposite number in Manchester Cathedral he was surprised by the closure. “It would be very much a last resort,” he says, repeating Dean Rogers words. 

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

it's the city, duffusNovember 1st 2011.

A PR disaster?

It's just yet more evidence of the 'boy's club society' we all appear to live in. Politicians, police, judiciary, press and now the Church.

Welcome to the club!

Simon SmithNovember 2nd 2011.

Nobody really gives a flying banana what the Church of England thinks about anything.

A few tents at a church in London doesn't change that.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
it's the city, duffusNovember 2nd 2011.

Not part of the club then?

Jamie LeechNovember 2nd 2011.

anyone with any morality wouldnt want to be

AnonymousNovember 2nd 2011.


1 Response: Reply To This...
tblzebraNovember 2nd 2011.

... and breathe. While you're at it, perhaps remove caps lock?

Jamie LeechNovember 2nd 2011.

caps lock is the least of everyones probs.

Jonathan SchofieldNovember 2nd 2011.

Anon. So what is the protest about? If it's just about the way the world is then that's childish. Every generation fears it lives in the worst of times - that's the conceit of every generation, a stamp of the foot as we grow up and realise we aren't all going to be gods on earth - but even a little knowledge of history would prove quickly that these aren't the worst of times. Let's be angry about specific points but not the entire system we live under.

1 Response: Reply To This...
пете драперNovember 2nd 2011.

Christians are big on 'bearing witness.' Think of the protestors as doing this. From Wiki, 'To keep “a clear conscience toward God and toward men”(Acts 24:16), Christians must follow Christ’s example “to bear witness to the truth.”(John 18:37) '

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