Letter: Remembering a murdered priest

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The Independent Online
Sir: Paul Vallely ("The killing of a priest", 15 August) calls the murder of the Rev Christopher Gray "the breaking of a taboo" and writes that the only killing of a clergyman in Britain in recent times was of a Catholic priest in Southwark two years ago. All this is true, but perhaps we over-idealise the past.

I can never forget the day - 1938 or 1939 - when I read the headline "London Vicar Shot Dead" and realised with horror that the murdered man was the Rev C Sykes, and that he had been shot by a man he had disturbed robbing the church poor box.

A few years earlier, Mr Sykes had been a curate at a church where I was a Sunday school child. My chief memory of him was his air of conviction as he gave out the first line of the hymn, "Jesus lives! No longer now, Can thy terrors, death, appal us".

Perhaps those now mourning Christopher Gray may draw some comfort from knowing that he will be remembered, more than 50 years on, by some of those who are now small children in the Liverpool parish.

MARGOT LAWRENCE

Edgware

Middlesex

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