A member of the House of Lords also raised the issue on the same day.
“Could priests be allowed to attend a crime scene so that they can give the victim their last rites, especially when they are dying?” asked Susan Cunliffe-Lister, Baroness Masham of Ilton.
Fr. Jeff Woolnough, the pastor of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Eastwood, in Leigh-on-Sea, went to Belfairs Methodist Church on Oct. 15 after he heard that Amess had been attacked.
A police officer outside the church reportedly relayed his request to enter the building, but the priest was not permitted to enter. He prayed the rosary outside the police cordon instead.
Paramedics attended to Amess, who was stabbed multiple times, for more than two-and-a-half hours before an air ambulance arrived to take him to hospital.
On Oct. 19, a Catholic bishop called for greater recognition of the last rites as an “emergency service” in the wake of the killing.
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, western England, said: “Every believing Catholic desires to hear Christ’s words of pardon and absolution for the last time; to be strengthened by the grace of anointing; accompanied by the assurance of the Church’s prayer and whenever possible to receive Holy Communion.”
“This is something well understood in hospitals and care homes, yet the events following the murderous assault on Sir David Amess suggest this is not always comprehended in emergency situations.”
“I hope a better understanding of the eternal significance of the hour of death for Christians and the Church’s ministry as an ‘emergency service’ may result from this terrible tragedy.”
The Church helps to prepare Catholics for death by offering them the sacraments of reconciliation, the anointing of the sick, and viaticum (Holy Communion.)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “If circumstances suggest it, the celebration of the sacrament [of the anointing of the sick] can be preceded by the sacrament of Penance and followed by the sacrament of the Eucharist. As the sacrament of Christ’s Passover, the Eucharist should always be the last sacrament of the earthly journey, the ‘viaticum’ for ‘passing over’ to eternal life.”
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A Catholic Memorial Mass for Sir David Amess took place at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster, opposite the Houses of Parliament, on Oct. 20.
Irish lawmakers attended a Mass for the pro-life father of five in St. Teresa’s Church, Dublin, on Oct. 22. Ceann Comhairle (speaker of the Dáil) Seán Ó Fearghail read the first reading.
The celebrant Fr. Vincent O’Hara described Sir David as a man of conscience, reported the Irish Times.
“There is a special poignancy in Sir David’s death, that someone who cherished and promoted life at all stages, from its beginning in the womb, should have his life snuffed out in such a barbaric way,” the priest said.