Mon, Dec 26, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Occupy London and St Paul’s celebrate Christmas together

AFP, LONDON

Anti-capitalist protesters camped outside London’s St Paul’s Cathedral rang in Christmas with the church yesterday, putting aside old squabbles.

Spirits within the Occupy London camp were “perfect,” a protester said, after a British High Court judge hearing the case for their removal said on Friday he would not reach a verdict until next year.

The protesters and the Church of England have not always sung from the same hymn sheet, but the two camps have now found a common message.

Worshipers filing out of St Paul’s after a Christmas Eve carol service largely ignored the collection of tents on the iconic cathedral’s doorstep, but protesters spoke of a new-found bond with the clergy.

“We’re working together very well,” demonstrator Michael Bell said.

“They performed a service for us on the steps with the clergy singing as the choir,” he added. “I’m not religious at all, but I really enjoyed it and so did other people who were there. They invited us to Midnight Mass and I will most certainly be attending.”

Some senior of members of the church originally wanted to evict the protesters on its doorstep since Oct. 15, sparking an internal clergy battle that resulted in the resignations of its dean, canon-chancellor and a part-time chaplain.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the church’s worldwide leader, eventually spoke up in defense of the protesters and the church backed down from any legal moves to have the camp removed.

Bell said shared values of “community and supporting one another” resonated particularly strongly at Christmas, and added that there had been a spike in the number of people visiting the camp to pledge support during the festive period.

Also resonating strongly were the booming bass and distorted guitars that entertained a handful of party-minded campers late on Saturday, offering a stark contrast to the angelic melodies performed at the earlier church carol service.

On top of impromptu live music events, Occupy London also plans a New Year’s Eve concert, a special performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and jamming with ukeleles.

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