Church leaders react to fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess; police say it was terrorist attack

David Amess,
Police officers stand guard at the scene of the fatal stabbing of Conservative British lawmaker David Amess, at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, a district of Southend-on-Sea, in southeast England on October 16, 2021. - The fatal stabbing of British lawmaker David Amess was a terrorist incident, police said Saturday, as MPs pressed for tougher security in the wake of the second killing of a U.K. politician while meeting constituents in just over five years. |

Shocked by the death of Conservative British Parliamentarian Sir. David Amess after he was stabbed multiple times at a church Friday, the country's Christian leaders are reacting to what U.K. authorities are calling a terrorist attack.

Police in the district of Essex, northeast of London and where the 69-year-old lawmaker was killed, said a 25-year-old man has been arrested and that the initial investigation suggests Islamist extremism as a possible motive for the attack, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Amess, who was married with five children and was known for his socially conservative viewpoints and pro-life stance against abortion, attended a public meeting for his "constituency surgery" at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea when the attack occurred. 

In the U.K., constituency surgeries are face-to-face meetings that officeholders have with their constituents.

According to reports, he was brutally stabbed several times and later died despite paramedics attempting to save him for two hours.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said he was "shocked and saddened" by the incident, Crux Now reported.

"This death throws a sharp light onto the fact that our Members of Parliament are servants of the people, available to people in their need, especially in their constituencies," he said. "This horrific attack, as David was undertaking his constituency surgery, is an attack on our democratic process and traditions."

The cardinal added that the lawmaker "carried out his vocation as a Catholic in public life with generosity and integrity," and pointed out that he was "respected by all political parties across the House."

Archbishop Justin Welby also issued a statement, saying he was "truly devastated."

"The murder of an MP, in the course of caring for their constituents, is a deep blow to this country, its citizens and everyone who desires a peaceful and flourishing democracy," he added.

He further noted that Amess' "deep faith fuelled his sense of justice" and Britain was "all the poorer" now.

"The only antidote to violence and hatred is love and unity," he continued. "In this horrific and tragic moment we must come together, across political difference, and be the light that refuses to be cowed by darkness."

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said in a statement: "I had the great honor of calling David Amess a friend when I was Bishop of Chelmsford." 

"He was the MP for the constituency where I grew up, and not only did he always faithfully serve those people and that place, but had a particular concern for the Christian community born of his own deeply held Christian faith as a member of the Roman Catholic community."

Reacting to the MP's death, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics," according to Reuters.

Johnson continued, “David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future and we have lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague and our thoughts are very much today with his wife, his children and his family.”

Amess is not the first member of Parliament to be murdered while attending a constituency meeting.

Helen Joanne Cox, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen who took office in May 2015, was murdered in June 2016 while she was present at a constituency surgery. Prosecutors deemed the slaying to be related to "political and/or ideological reasons."

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