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Last Friday, David Amess, a member of Parliament (equivalent of a U.S. congressman) for the U.K. parliamentary seat of Southend West, was brutally murdered when he was attending his local constituency ‘s surgery (meeting with local voters) in a Methodist church. His suspected murderer, a likely Islamist Britain, was arrested at the scene and is right now awaiting charges.
Amess was an MP of many traits: 69 years of age, a well-liked member of Parliament by members of all political views, married, a father of five, a Conservative, and a Roman Catholic.
What’s interesting about Amess was that he wasn’t a Catholic politician in the vein of Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden but a committed conservative Catholic with views well known against abortion and gay marriage. He was nevertheless well liked even by members who had converse views to this. He also broke with the Conservative Party when he believed it acted against social teaching against the poor and on animals. Amess was no poser though. Unlike many MPs or politicians of all kinds, he sought only to work for his local constituents, not power. He was widely admired by many in Westminster (where Parliament sits), not just by politicians but by many of the advisers, guards, cleaners, cooks, clerks, and parliamentary aides (the little people) who he always treated as an equal. It’s not for nothing that U.K. politicians have been in a state of shock all week.
When I heard the news on Friday and Saturday, I was deeply shocked. Many MPs are well known in Ireland, and British politics is followed here regularly, myself included in this watching. Many of our version of MPs (called here TDs) were shocked. Particularly the fact that this is the second murder of an MP in the U.K. within five years. Many Irish TDs work in a similar way to MPs, and so it shook many here. But as soon as I realised it was a likely Islamist murder, I must say this shock fell away. Europe has, shall we say, gotten used to this.
But my shock returned on Saturday when I realized the above image story occurred. Essentially, in the minutes after Amess was stabbed, the local parish priest, a friend of Amess, was called by concerned friends. He arrived at the Methodist church and asked the police to allow him to enter so he could say last rites for Amess. For those unaware, this is a sacrament that prepares the dying or the sick for the next life with God. It also can be a time to confess sins. The police on the scene radioed their commanders. He was denied.
As such, Amess died within reach of a Catholic priest. He was denied the last sacraments by either someone profoundly ignorant of the Christian and Catholic faith or someone just plain ignorant. Alas, as the priest said prayers, Amess passed onto his eternal reward. God have mercy on his soul.
Many Catholics in the U.K. and Ireland were outraged at this story as it came out on Saturday. Soon many non-Catholics, Protestants, and even nonbelievers joined in. The absolute disgrace of this was said by many. Many Catholics in Britain were particularly outraged and made their notice of it clear online. I was outraged with it here in Ireland; oddly I was far more outraged with this than the murder for some minutes. Murderers are murderers. Cruelty is what they do. Yet here was a U.K. institution adding to it, with blissful ignorance the likely beast.
Britain is a very secular country, even though it is often said to be a Protestant constitutional monarchy. The reality is that it is a country where Christians are a minority, and knowledge of all religions (except Islam) is very low. That is why the police did what they did in Southend. That is also why the fact Amess was murdered in a church has got so little play. Churches are just other buildings to a secular population, nothing special. God help them. This is the end result of practical atheism mixed with the failure of the Christian churches in the U.K. to preach the good news. God isn’t dead, but his traditions and beliefs are being forgotten.
It remains to be seen when a religious revival occurs in Europe or will it occur. But for now, we have to live with this reality: the very idea a man could be denied his religious freedoms in death because someone said so. This is the present in Europe. It’s coming to America too. For now, it’s present so readily in the U.K. Not just shocking, but terribly sad.Published in