British MP proposes adding ‘Amess amendment’ on last rites to bill

British MP proposes adding ‘Amess amendment’ on last rites to bill Photo: PA Media/BBC

An MP has proposed adding an “Amess amendment” to a bill going through parliament ensuring that Catholic priests can administer the last rites at crime scenes.

Mike Kane, a Labour Party representative, is seeking to add the amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. A spokesperson for Kane has stated that the ‘Amess amendment’ would protect the right of Catholic priests and other ministers of religion to pray alongside the dying after Fr Jeffrey Woolnough was refused access to deliver the last rites to Mr Amess after he was stabbed to death in what prosecutors are calling a religiously motivated attack by a suspected Islamic extremist.

Alluding to Mr Amess’ strong Catholic beliefs, Kane described how Sir David Amess “participated fully in the liturgy and the sacraments of the Church”. Continuing, Kane said “while I have the attention of those on the front benches, Catholics believe that extreme unction helps guide the soul to God after death, so maybe we could come up with an Amess amendment so that no matter where it is, in a care home or at a crime scene, members, or anybody, can receive that Sacrament”.

It has been reported that sympathetic members of the House of Lords were prepared to put forward the amendment to the bill, which is currently at the committee stage in the Lords. The BBC has also reported that cross-party discussions were under way.

Conversation surrounding the importance of and the fact that they were not safeguarded by legislation was previously highlighted in a non-parliamentary setting by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, who reflected on the value of sacraments to those who possess faith. “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,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Amess, who had given 38 years of service as an MP and was a prominent pro-life advocate in the House of Commons, was described by Fr Vincent O’Hara “as a man of conscience”.