Chichester Diocese responds after BBC broadcast interrupted by Christian climate protestors

The Diocese of Chichester has responded after Chichester Cathedral’s Evensong, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, was interrupted by Christian climate protestors.
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Almost a dozen activists associated with Christian Climate Action (CCA) – including members of the clergy – stood up in the midst of the 4pm service on Wednesday, November 29, holding signs which read ‘Chichester Diocese funds climate chaos’ and singing a plainsong penitential chant.

Afterwards, they gave a short statement condemning the Synod's decision to retain the Diocese’s investments in fossil fuels, despite the Church of England’s pledge to divest earlier this year.

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Following the Church of England’s advice, most dioceses agreed to divest in fossil fuels, meaning Chichester is one of just three Synods in the UK – alongside Peterborough and Southwell & Nottingham – which still has shares in companies like BT and Shell.

Climate protestors interrupted an evensong service in Chichester Cathedral yesterdayClimate protestors interrupted an evensong service in Chichester Cathedral yesterday
Climate protestors interrupted an evensong service in Chichester Cathedral yesterday

Mary Smail, a CCA member who gave part of yesterday’s statement said: “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.”

The Diocese of Chichester has responded to the CCA, issuing a statement of its own and acknowledging the protestors’ contentions.

“We share the concern of the protestors. The recent Diocesan Synod reaffirmed that care for God’s creation is foundational to the Christian gospel and central to the church’s mission.

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‘Synod also engaged with the many complexities this contentious issue raises, which are often overlooked. We recognised that it is possible for people to hold different views on the best way to achieve the shared goal of freedom from fossil fuels.’

"We remain committed to working towards a future which does not depend on fossil fuels. We acknowledge that achieving freedom from fossil fuels depends on the urgent need to develop alternative energy supplies and reduce the demand for energy.

"The Synod also debated the central role that large energy companies have to play in developing alternative energy supplies. We agreed by a significant majority to continue to invest in Shell and BP only while those companies have a clear strategy aligned with the Paris Agreement goal.”

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