There are moments in politics when the noise stops, and we are forced to pause and reflect. The death of Sir David Amess, MP, on Friday, October 15, was one of those moments.
Sir David was born and raised a Catholic, and his faith was palpable in his life of public service, which spanned nearly 40 years.
When Sir David entered the House of Commons in 1983, there were very few Catholics on the Conservative benches of Parliament, but he demonstrated that his Catholic faith and his Conservative principles could easily be combined.
A review of his parliamentary record gives an idea of the areas in which he campaigned: poverty, homelessness, social welfare. He was also a strong advocate for the dignity of life, even openly criticizing abortion.
His contributions in the House of Commons, numerous, have been only a small part of his work in Parliament. Sir David's deep faith fueled his sense of justice and his instinct to do the right thing, regardless of the political consequences.
His assassination at Belfairs Methodist Church while he was addressing a political rally has shocked all those who work in Parliament. The greatest loss is to his wife and five children, whom we remember in our prayers. But we have also lost a dedicated local MP, and our country has lost a fine Catholic parliamentarian.
In 2006, Sir David established the All Party Parliamentary Group for Relations with the Holy See, a group that was set up to improve relations with the Vatican and continues its work today chaired by Sir Edward Leigh.
Sir David was instrumental in Pope Benedict XVI's historic visit to Parliament in 2010, and in the return of representatives of Her Majesty's Government to Rome the following year. During his speech in Westminster Hall as part of his visit, Pope Benedict said that "religion...is not a matter for lawmakers to regulate, but a vital contribution to the national conversation." Sir David put those words into practice.
Sir David was a strong supporter of a number of Catholic groups, such as the Catholic Union of Great Britain and the Caritas Social Action Network, groups that helped him put his faith into practice.
When places of worship were forced to close as part of a second national closure in England in October last year, Sir David was one of the first MPs to put his name to a letter to the Prime Minister calling for them to reopen. In fact, it was his idea to promote a joint letter on the matter.
He was one of the so-called "four knights," a group of four knighted MPs that Christian groups used to rely on to fight some of the toughest battles in Parliament. When others retreated, Sir David would step forward. He was the knight who fought the good fight, and he will be sorely missed at Westminster.
Sir David never tired of championing the causes he believed in, regardless of the political risks. His vocation for political life has benefited us all and he remains an example to others.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
Director of Public Relations of the Catholic Union of Great Britain