An English cardinal led tributes to a Catholic member of Parliament who was knifed to death while meeting local people in his constituency.
Sir David Amess, a member of the governing Conservative Party and one of the most prominent Catholic politicians in the UK Parliament, was stabbed repeatedly by a man who sprinted into his offices at noon on 15 October.
The father of five died in a hospital about three hours later.
Police arrested a 25-year-old man at the scene and recovered a knife. Officers have released no further details of the suspected attacker but say they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the murder.
Soon afterward, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said: “The tragic death of David Amess creates a painful loss in so many lives. I pray for him that he be welcomed into the merciful presence of Our Heavenly Father. I pray for his family and friends, those reeling from shock at this time. I pray for his constituents and those who worked with him in his political career.
“This death throws a sharp light onto the fact that our members of Parliament are servants of the people, available to people in their need, especially in their constituencies,” he said in a statement posted on the website of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
“This horrific attack … is an attack on our democratic process and traditions,” he said.
MP’s Catholic faith was important to him
“David carried out his vocation as a Catholic in public life with generosity and integrity. He served in Parliament for four decades and was respected by all political parties across the House (of Commons). His untimely death is a great loss.”
The cardinal said Amess “understood the role and importance of the Holy See” and that he was instrumental in the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Parliament in 2010.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, vacationing in Spain, paid tribute to Amess via Twitter. “All our hearts are full of shock and sadness,” he wrote. “He was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics.”
Murder is second of a British MP in five years
The attack took place at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, when Amess, 69, was holding a weekly meeting with constituents.
He is the second English lawmaker to be murdered in five years, following Jo Cox, who was repeatedly stabbed and shot when she visited a library in Yorkshire in 2016.
Lord Alton of Liverpool, a Catholic who was baptised in the same church and by the same Franciscan priest as Amess, said he was “devastated” by the murder of his “longstanding friend and parliamentary colleague.”
“This horrific attack has not only robbed David of his life, but its reverberations will have devastating consequences for his family and loved ones,” he said, adding that his thoughts were with Amess’ widow and their children.
Amess was leading pro-life advocate
Catherine Robinson of Right to Life UK describing Amess as “a pro-life champion.”
“Since he was elected in 1983, he always, where possible, used his position as an MP to stand up for the vulnerable, including championing initiatives to introduce more protections for unborn babies and more support for women facing crisis pregnancies,” she said.