Pope Francis praised the “devoted public service” of murdered British MP Sir David Amess and urged mourners to “combat evil with good”.
In a message to the requiem Mass, the pope asked mourners to “build a society of ever greater justice” after the death of the devout Catholic, who was killed as he conducted a meeting with constituency members who needed help.
His funeral on Tuesday was attended by MPs of all parties including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, three former prime ministers – Theresa May, David Cameron and John Major – and opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Amess was killed on October 15 in Leigh-on-Sea, in his Southend West constituency.
The pope’s message was read by Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, to convey “his heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to the Amess family”.
“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 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.”
The killing of Amess sent shock waves through the British political system, coming five years after another British MP, Jo Cox, was murdered on the street.
Mr Johnson said some Cabinet ministers had broken down in tears when he broke the news to them.
He also attended the service at the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral in London, which was conducted by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the most senior Catholic leader in England and Wales.
Amess, a member of Mr Johnson's Conservative Party, was first elected to parliament to represent the town of Basildon in 1983, and then nearby Southend West in 1997. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2015 for his public service.
Ali Harbi Ali, 25, has been charged with the murder and also with preparing acts of terrorism between May 1, 2019 and September 28 this year. He is expected to enter pleas in December.