Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer among politicians attending service for Conservative MP, who was stabbed to death in October
The Pope praised Sir Dawid amess’s years of service “guided by his strong Catholic faith” in a message read at a Westminster Cathedral service for the Conservative MP who was stabbed to death in a terror attack in October.
The message from Pope Francis praised the politician for his “deep concern for the poor and disadvantaged” and called on mourners to “reject the ways of violence” and “combat evil with good”.
Politicians including Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer and three former prime ministers, paid their respects to the father-of-five at the service in central London on Tuesday morning, following a private funeral held in Southend-on-Sea, Essex a day earlier.
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, presided over the ceremony and Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, delivered the message from Pope Francis. The message continued: “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 help build a society of ever greater justice, fraternity and solidarity.”
US congressman Robert Pittenger also read a passage from the book of Wisdom, a book that is part of the Catholic biblical canon.
Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, a friend of Sir David’s, said before the service that the death of Sir David still had a “great air of unreality about it”.
She said she thought of Sir David, who was a practising Catholic and led the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See, was “probably the most important person in Britain” to the Pope.
Sy het bygevoeg: “Obviously I am feeling sad but, aan die ander kant, today is a great occasion to see so many people come to pay their respects to David, to celebrate his life. And what I am saying to everybody today is, kyk, the death was horrible, but I don’t want David to be remembered for how he died, I want him to be remembered for how he lived and for the causes he fought for.”
Sir David’s coffin, draped in a union flag, was carried by pallbearers from Southend Fire Service. After the church service, they carried the coffin to a horse-drawn hearse for a procession around Southend.
Hundreds of people gathered outside Southend’s Civic Centre to pay their respects as the hearse, led by four black horses, paused in front of it.
Uniformed police officers bowed their heads as the hearse arrived and people applauded.
Southend West MP Sir David was killed during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on October 15.
Ali Harbi Ali, 25, has been charged with his murder and also with preparing acts of terrorism between May 1 2019 en September 28 hierdie jaar.
He is due to enter pleas in December.
Following his death, MPs paid tribute to Sir David in the Commons and a service was held in Sir David’s honour at St Margaret’s Church.
Mr Johnson and Sir Keir were among around 800 politicians in attendance to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury say the “light lit by public service” provided by MPs like Sir David “must never be put out”.