Sir David Amess: Funeral service takes place at Westminster Cathedral

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Image source, PA MediaImage caption, Pope Francis called for mourners' resolve to be strengthened to "build a society of ever greater justice"

The Pope has praised Sir David Amess for years of "devoted public service" in a message read at the funeral service for the late Conservative MP.

Senior political figures gathered at Westminster Cathedral to pay their respects to Sir David, who was 69.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined former prime ministers, the Speaker of the House and the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at the service.

Sir David was fatally stabbed during a constituency surgery in October.

Image source, PA MediaImage caption, Sir David was first elected for the Southend West seat in 1997, and before that he had been MP for Basildon since 1983Image source, PA MediaImage caption, The coffin of Sir David Amess MP laid overnight at the chapel of the Palace of Westminster before being driven to the nearby Roman Catholic cathedral

In the message delivered by Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, 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.

"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 Pope's message said.

"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."

Image source, PA MediaImage caption, Attendees at Westminster Cathedral included former prime ministers Sir John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May, the Speaker of the Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Boris JohnsonImage source, EPAImage caption, The coffin arrives for the funeral service for Sir David Amess MP at Westminster Cathedral

Those at the service enjoyed a lighter moment as Canon Pat Browne, the Roman Catholic Duty Priest for Parliament, recalled the moment Sir David had a boiled sweet blessed by the Pope.

Laughter broke through the silence again as Canon Browne told the story of Sir David posing in a suit of armour to celebrate his knighthood.

Today we mourn the death of Sir David Amess, a beloved colleague, public servant and friend, and pay tribute to his immense contribution to politics, to the people of Southend and to this country.

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 23, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The Southend West MP was attacked at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on 15 October.

Sir David was first elected for the Essex seat in 1997, and before that he had been MP for Basildon since 1983.

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Speaking before the service, former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe said: "He was a very close personal friend.

"It still has a great air of unreality about it – I think that's quite inevitable if you lose a friend suddenly in terrible circumstances.

"We're all asking ourselves why, I don't think anybody can tell you why."

The service will be followed by a private interment.

Image source, ReutersImage caption, Sir Keir Starmer speaks with Home Secretary Priti Patel ahead of the requiem mass for Sir David Amess, who was MP for Southend West

The mass at Westminster Cathedral followed Monday's memorial service in Southend.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, has been charged with the murder of Sir David and also with preparing acts of terrorism between 1 May 2019 and 28 September this year.

He is due to enter pleas in December.

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