Eco-protesters crashed a Church of England cathedral service amid a heated row over fossil fuel money.

Furious churchgoers and vicars interrupted a service at Chichester Cathedral to "hold signs" and "sing a plainsong penitential chant" over the diocese's decision to invest in fossil fuel giants Shell and BP.

But the Diocese of Chichester insists that investing in the oil companies actually helps to combat the climate crisis.

Christian Climate Action crashed the service on Wednesday, November 29, and claimed the diocese is "complicit in the suffering of millions of people in the global south and the breakdown of the earth’s life support systems" after the decision-making Synod voted to retain its investments in the fossil fuel companies.

The Argus: Chichester CathedralChichester Cathedral (Image: Lark Ascending / Flickr)

Reverend Hilary Bond, an Anglican vicar who interrupted the service, 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."

The Argus: The group holding a banner in the cathedralThe group holding a banner in the cathedral (Image: Christian Climate Action)

She was among a dozen other Christians who interrupted the 4pm evensong service, which was also being broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

The vast majority of Church of England dioceses either do not have investments in fossil fuels or have voted to sell their assets.

There are only three Church of England dioceses that currently hold these investments – Southwell and Nottingham, Chichester and Peterborough.

The Argus: File photo of an oil rig anchored in the Cromarty Firth, InvergordonFile photo of an oil rig anchored in the Cromarty Firth, Invergordon (Image: PA)

On November 18, the Diocese of Chichester voted to stay invested in Shell and BP - but campaigners want this decision reversed.

Val King, who was also part of the group, said: “We are living in a world of record-breaking temperatures, floods and wild fires while companies like BP scale back climate goals while profits more than double.

"Why can they not see they are now complicit in the increase in global warming, which is already causing suffering and death in the global south.

"How dare they play at money games when they could so easily place their money in positive investments. Those responsible for investing must be called out.”

The Argus: The group prayed in protestThe group prayed in protest (Image: Christian Climate Action)

The Diocese of Chichester said it "shares the concern of the protesters" but agreed to continue investing in fossil fuels to help the development of new energy supplies.

A spokeswoman said: "The recent Diocesan Synod reaffirmed that care for God’s creation is foundational to the Christian gospel and central to the church’s mission. 

"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.

The Argus: Dr Martin warner, Bishop of ChichesterDr Martin warner, Bishop of Chichester

"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."