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Sir David Ames defending the place of religion in society during a 2013 debate in OxfordYouTube screenshot

ESSEX, U.K. (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic and pro-life Conservative Member of Parliament has died today after being stabbed multiple times by an unidentified man.

Sir David Amess, 69, was stabbed while holding a meeting with constituents in Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

A man reportedly walked into the church and stabbed the Member of Parliament (MP) for Southend West shortly after 12:05 p.m. The alleged attacker has been identified as Ali Harbi Ali, 25, a British national of Somali origin.

As police remained around the church and paramedics remained with Amess for over two hours, early ongoing details about the attack and the medical condition of Sir David remained scarce, with local councillor John Lamb stating, “We’re not sure how serious it is but it’s not looking good.”

Essex Police announced at 2:39 p.m. that Sir David had died at the scene.

The police has not yet commented on the possible motive of the attack but said that a 25-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of murder and a knife had been recovered.

Sir David, who had been an MP since 1983, is Catholic and pro-life. His parliamentary website notes that his “main interests and areas of expertise are animal welfare and pro-life issues.”

In a 2013 debate at Oxford, Amess argued passionately in defense of the role of religion in society, saying that “religion is at the heart of everything.”

“I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic. Just as if I had been born Jewish, I would have been proud to have been born a Jew,” Amess stated. “I’ve never met anyone … who have explained to me, in such a way that I could accept entirely, that there is no God.”

For Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s 2010 visit to the U.K., Sir David was part of a select group invited to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh to welcome the Pontiff, along with the Queen, due to his role as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See.

Sir David, a father of five, has reflected his faith in his voting record on issues of abortion and LGBT matters, consistently voting in a pro-life manner, against assisted suicide and “buffer zones” around abortion clinics to prevent pro-life street counseling.

“Everything I have done as an MP I have been driven by the preservation of life,” he declared while campaigning in 2010. “I think we should preserve life at all cost, whether that is limits on abortion or not paving the way for assisted suicide.”

He has also consistently voted against same-sex “marriage,” despite public criticism from his daughter for his position, as she supports LGBT ideology and declares to be “very pro-gay rights.”

Sir David joined a number of prominent Catholics from the U.K. in signing an open letter expressing their “profound dismay” at the Vatican’s secret “sell out” deal with China.

In November 2020, Amess joined fellow parliamentarians to demand that the government ease restrictions on churches so that religious ceremonies could occur at Christmas. “Whatever replaces the current restrictions in England from 3 December — whether that is new national measures or a local approach — we must never again stop people from attending religious services,” the 70 politicians wrote.

A man who ‘more than anything put his constituents first’

In the light of the attack and Sir David’s murder, fellow Catholics and MP’s across the Parliamentary divide have been swift to issue messages of support.

Catholics in the Conservative Party asked for prayers for his soul, and called him an “ebullient Catholic public representative and a devoted servant of his constituents.

Meanwhile, the newly formed Orthodox Conservatives group wrote: “We are heartbroken to hear the news that Sir David Amess has passed away after he was stabbed at his constituency surgery. Our sincerest condolences to Sir David’s wife Julia, his five children, his family and his friends. Rest in peace Sir David.”

The Catholic Union of Great Britain described Sir David as “a friend to the Catholic Union and supporter of many of our campaigns — not least in helping to get places of worship open again during the pandemic. Let perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace.”

Carla Lockhart, the co-chair of the All Party Pro-Life group in Parliament, wrote: “This is just devastating … there are no words. A true gentleman and someone who will be sadly missed. Thinking of Sir David’s family at this very sad time.”

Media reports described Amess as a man who “more than anything put his constituents first,” and fellow Conservative MP wrote, before Amess died, “David Amess is the best of us. Sending him and his family all my thoughts and prayers.”

The U.K. Cardinal Vincent Nichols also expressed his condolences, adding he was praying “the repose of his soul, and for his family and constituents who grieve for him. May he rest in peace.”

The Anglican Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, recalled how Sir David “had a particular concern for the Christian community born of his own deeply held Christian faith as a member of the Roman Catholic community.”

“It is shocking that someone so dedicated to his community and public service was the victim of such violence as he went about his elected duty,” continued Cottrell. “It is hard to make sense of the horror of what has happened this afternoon but he and his family and those he loves are in my prayers.”