The police reportedly denied access to a Catholic priest who wanted to give the Last Rites to Sir David Amess MP after his fatal stabbing.
Local priest Father Jeffrey Woolnough told The Telegraph that he rushed to the scene of the attack and explained to officers that “I was the local Catholic priest and showed them my card but I wasn’t allowed. They said no one was allowed on the crime scene.”
“Now we know more about what happened I can perhaps understand it, but it’s still a great disappointment for any Roman Catholic – they want to receive the Last Rites… I always use the analogy of priests working on the battlefields in the world wars. They were anointing the men as they were dying,” he said.
The Mail reports that a priest tried to give Last Rites to Sir David but was denied access on the grounds that this was a crime scene.
This was very distressing to read and I’d like to see a full explanation of this decision by @EssexPoliceUK. pic.twitter.com/YkeLrExukW
— Tim Stanley (@timothy_stanley) October 16, 2021
Essex Police’s excuse is all too typical of the mix of officiousness, insensitivity, and “computer says no” bureaucratic intransigence which characterises our modern police.
Here is the official statement provided to Breitbart London by Essex Police:
As with any police incident, it is of the utmost importance that we preserve the integrity of a crime scene and allow emergency services to tend to those in need.
A cordon is put in place to secure and prevent contamination of the area. Access into a scene is at the discretion of the investigating officers. This is a fundamental part of any investigation to ensure the best possible chance of securing justice for any victim and their family. A cordon can also be used to restrict an area for emergency services to administer potentially life-saving medical treatment, in as much privacy as possible and to allow officers to confirm that an area is safe to enter.
Yeah, we get all that. You’re the police and everything you do is right even when it’s wrong because you’re the police.
But where does that leave the broader fabric that you, the police, are there supposedly to protect?
Sir David Amess was a devout Roman Catholic. As Roman Catholic convert (and former Chaplain to the Queen) Gavin Ashenden explains:
Last Rites are crucial for faithful Catholics because these are the final prayers and blessings the dying will receive before going to heaven. The administration of the Last Rites is a final cleansing, which prepares the dying to enter heaven rather than hell, as they have denounced their sinful nature.
This may seem so much irrelevant frippery to a non-believer. But to a practising Catholic it is absolutely key. We live, or used to live, in a society which protected and indeed cherished freedom of religious expression. In war and peace there are countless examples of priests putting themselves in the way of danger in order to reach the dying faithful at their moment of need.
What Essex Police are doing here is declaring that their bureaucratic procedure should take precedence over this because, effectively, as far as they are concerned, such articles of faith have no place in the modern world.
And it’s really no excuse, as some of the police’s defenders on social media are saying, that the extreme circumstances of cordoning a murder scene somehow justify denying a priest access to a dying believer, any more than they would justify denying access to paramedics.
Death is always an extreme circumstance. That is the point.
Quite. The first thing I remembered when Tim revealed this yesterday.
— Francis Hoar (@Francis_Hoar) October 17, 2021
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