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Recollections of the Crockford tragedy

15 February 2013


From Canon Colin Craston
Sir, - I can add an interesting insight into the account of the Crockford Preface row in 1987 ( Church Times, 8 February).

That summer, there had been a quinquennial election to the Crown Appointments Commission. Canon Gareth Bennett had been elected as a clerical member. I had been re-elected after serving five years. He invited me to stay with him at New College, Oxford, to discuss the Commission's work. I heard there all the criticisms that were later to appear in the Preface, but he did not indicate that he had written about it in the Preface.

I firmly contradicted his impressions, particularly his belief that Robert Runcie had exerted undue influence on the appointments. He was certain that there would be no appointment of any opposed to the ordination of women to the priesthood. I offered to raise that issue at the first meeting of the Commission, if it would help him. After the meeting, he expressed his satisfaction with the way the meeting had gone.

Later that year, there was the first meeting to nominate to a vacant bishopric. It was particularly harmonious, and resulted in a unanimous recommendation. Afterwards, Gareth said that it was very encouraging, and he understood what I had told him in our Oxford meeting. Within a couple of days, he was dead.

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