Denying David Amess the Last Rites was a dreadful decision

Oct 19, 2021 by

by Brendan O’Neill, spiked:

The police refused to allow a Catholic priest to purify Amess’s soul. This is the inhumanity of bureaucracy.

Everything about the murder of David Amess is grim. One detail feels particularly bleak. Amess, a devout Catholic, was denied the Last Rites. A Catholic priest and friend of Amess – Fr Jeff Woolnough – arrived at the scene in Leigh-on-Sea not long after the stabbing took place. He asked to be allowed through so that he could perform the Last Rites ritual. But the police said no. They later said it was important that they ‘preserve the integrity of [the] crime scene’. The priest, with his holy oils and his plan to administer the sign of the cross to the dying man, was clearly judged to be a threat to that integrity.

This feels so wrong. It speaks to a staggering lack of religious literacy, or just of cultural sensitivity, on the part of the police and no doubt the broader bureaucracy of 21st-century Britain. ‘A Catholic, when they’re dying, would want a priest there, and for reasons that only the police know, I was not allowed in’, Fr Woolnough told the PA news agency. He had been ‘sort of expecting’ that he would be waved through, ‘to administer the oil of the sick’. But it wasn’t to be. The rulebook took precedence over a dying man’s spiritual needs. The preservation of every iota of criminal evidence apparently matters more than attending to a man’s soul in the final moments of his life on Earth.

As if the killing of Amess wasn’t horrific enough, he was then deprived of this ritual which, for a devout Catholic like him, is of the utmost spiritual importance. Non-Catholics might find it difficult to understand how significant the Last Rites are. This is the ritual that provides the final purification of a person’s soul in order to prepare that person for entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. I have witnessed the administration of the Last Rites. It is profoundly moving. The dying person has his confession heard, is anointed with oil, and is invited to renew the promises made at his baptism. To a practising Catholic, it is the cleansing that eases his progress to heaven. It is desperately sad that Amess did not receive these rites before drawing his final breath.

Read here

Read also: David Amess and the sanctity of the Last Rites by Melanie McDonagh, Spectator (£)

Last Rites Should Not Have Been Denied to Slain Catholic MP by James Delingpole, Breitbart

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