23 November 2021

Pope praises MP Sir David Amess’s ‘devoted public service’

23 November 2021

The Pope has praised Sir David Amess’s years of “devoted public service” in a message read at a Westminster Cathedral service for the Conservative MP who was killed while serving his constituents.

In the message to the Requiem Mass, Pope Francis called for mourners’ resolve to be strengthened to “combat evil with good” and “build a society of ever greater justice” following the devout Catholic’s death.

Politicians including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and three former prime ministers attended the service in central London on Tuesday morning, following a private funeral held in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, a day earlier.

Conservative MP Sir David Amess was killed while serving his Southend West constituents (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

The fatal stabbing of Sir David during a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on October 15 deprived Southend West of its long-standing MP and many in Westminster of a beloved friend and colleague.

As mourners gathered to remember him, the message from the Pope was read by Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, to convey “his heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to the Amess family”.

“His Holiness recalls with gratitude Sir David’s years of devoted public service guided by his strong Catholic faith and evidenced in his deep concern for the poor and the disadvantaged, his commitment to the defence of God’s gift of life, and his efforts to foster understanding and co-operation with the Holy See in its universal mission,” the message continued.

“Commending Sir David’s soul to the loving mercy of Jesus Christ our Saviour, the Holy Father prays that all who honour his memory will be confirmed in the resolve to reject the ways of violence, to combat evil with good, and to help build a society of ever greater justice, fraternity and solidarity.”

Pall bearers carry the coffin of Sir David Amess into Westminster Cathedral (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

Former prime ministers Theresa May, David Cameron and Sir John Major sat side by side at the Mass led by Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

They were joined in a pew by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Mr Johnson.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid were among senior Cabinet members also present.

Canon Pat Browne, who knew Sir David well as Parliament’s Roman Catholic duty priest, celebrated the late father-of-five as a “true bridge-builder”.

The insignia of the Knights Bachelor awarded to Sir David Amess is carried into Westminster Cathedral (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

“David’s death was the catalyst for everyone in Parliament realising their oneness as a community working differently, but together, for the good of the nation in our world,” he told the service, before noting his success in bringing unity was also witnessed during his life.

“He literally took his life in his two hands and threw himself into it. And indeed, he died doing so, in service of others.”

The 69-year-old had served Southend West since 1997, and Basildon before that since 1983.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, has been charged with Sir David’s murder and also with preparing acts of terrorism between May 1 2019 and September 28 this year. He is due to enter pleas in December.

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