Melbourne Anglicans are grateful and relieved that a planned terrorist attack on St Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square and Flinders Street Station on Christmas Day has been neutralised, the Dean of St Paul’s, Dr Andreas Loewe, said today.

“We will be alert, but not afraid,” Dr Loewe said. “We thank the police and ASIO for their excellent work.”

He said the Cathedral had long worked closely with police on security: “St Paul’s Cathedral has been in regular contact with Victoria Police to ensure that visitors and worshippers at the Cathedral are kept safe, especially throughout the Christmas season.”

Christmas services will continue at the Cathedral as planned, with the extra security that had already been arranged. The Dean said: “The Cathedral already has its own security measures in place, and we are delighted that additional police are being deployed to make sure that our precinct is safe and peaceful this Christmas.”

He added: “St Paul’s is one of Melbourne’s most iconic religious buildings. It’s a symbol of faith in our city. We are committed to work reconciliation between different faiths and peoples in our community. At Christmas, we celebrate that God’s will for this world is peace, and we give thanks that our police force is ensuring that our city can celebrate this Christmas in peace.”

Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, the Anglican Primate of Australia, said he was grateful that the combined work of Victoria Police and several Commonwealth agencies had successfully disrupted the planned attack.

“I thank God that the message of hope, peace and reconciliation which is God’s message in Christ will be proclaimed clearly and publicly at St Paul’s as well as all of our parish churches and authorised Anglican congregations,” Dr Freier said.

“This disrupted terror plan should alert us all to making proper preparations for welcoming the many thousands of people – regular, occasional and no-church goers alike – to our Christmas worship. If you have any concerns about your security arrangements you should talk to your local police.”

Dr Freier said the Church had been told that, with the disruption of this plot, threat levels were no higher than what we have been living with over the past months.