Fossil fuel protest at Chichester Cathedral 'disappointing'

The Christian Climate Action protest at Chichester Cathedral.(Photo: Christian Climate Action)

Chichester Cathedral has called the disruption of a service by climate protesters as it was being broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 "disappointing".

The protest on Wednesday was staged by a dozen Christians, mostly belonging to the campaign group, Christian Climate Action (CCA). 

The protesters stood up during the 4pm Evensong service holding signs reading 'Chichester Diocese funds climate chaos'. 

The group then sang a penitential chant before CCA member Mary Smail read out a statement condemning Chichester Diocese's alleged investment in fossil fuels. 

Smail said, "Eleven days ago, the Chichester Diocesan Synod voted to retain the Dioceses' investments in fossil fuels, despite the Church of England National Investment Bodies having decided to divest - because 'engagement has failed'.

"It is astonishing that Chichester has chosen this path, described by the UN Secretary General as 'a highway to climate hell'. We protest at this wanton irresponsibility and call upon the Diocese to reverse its decision."

Anglican vicar, Rev Hilary Bond, who joined the protest, said: "As Christians we follow a God who is all about justice, especially for the poor.

"Many of the poorer parts of the world are already enduring great suffering because of the effects of climate change, brought about by the continued use of fossil fuels by the richer parts of the world.

"In continuing to invest in fossil fuels the Diocese of Chichester are ignoring the cry of the poor when they could so easily invest more ethically and be part of bringing climate justice to the whole of God's world."

In addition to its cathedral protest, CCA has sent a letter to the Bishop of Chichester, saying, "We feel compelled to make it plain that Chichester Diocese is supporting the greenwashing of Total, Shell and BP, and is complicit in the suffering of millions of people in the global south and the breakdown of the earth's life support systems."

In response, the cathedral issued a statement saying that it "is an independent charity that holds no investment in companies whose main business is the extraction of oil, gas or coal".

It went on to say, "It is understandably disappointing to see a service disrupted, particularly one as special as this, where we were joined for a live broadcast by BBC Radio 3." 

It added, "We would however like to acknowledge the importance of the message behind the protest - safeguarding God's creation. It is an ambition we share, and one we are actively working towards."

The statement concluded, "We believe the best way we can respond to the climate crisis is together."