Pope praises slain MP as UK leaders attend funeral mass

Tuesday November 23 2021
Pope pix

Pope Francis

By AFP

London. Pope Francis on Tuesday praised the "devoted public service" of British MP David Amess, who was stabbed to death while meeting constituents, as politicians honoured him at a Roman Catholic funeral mass.

The requiem mass at Westminster Cathedral heard a message from Francis delivered by Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the pontiff's envoy to Britain.

In the message, 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 killing last month.

"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," the message said.

Amess, 69, was stabbed at a regular constituency meeting in a church hall. A 25-year-old man, Ali Harbi Ali, was arrested at the scene and later charged with murder.

Prosecutors have said the attack on the veteran Conservative politician had a "terrorist connection". Ali is due to stand trial in March next year.

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Politicians including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer and three former prime ministers attended Tuesday's service at the Roman Catholic cathedral in central London.

The mass followed a private funeral for Amess held in his constituency of Southend-on-Sea, east of London, on Monday.

Hundreds of people in Southend turned out to pay their respects, lining the streets as the MP's coffin, draped in the Union Jack, was carried around the town in a hearse drawn by four black horses.

Amess was the second serving British MP to be killed in the past five years, and his death provoked widespread calls for a new civility in politics.

But Labour's Diane Abbott, who in 1987 became Britain's first black woman MP, said on Tuesday that "the death threats have got worse since the death of Sir David Amess".

"The abuse I receive, including the death threats, often echoes irresponsible headlines, and I think press regulation must accompany social media regulation," she told BBC radio.