Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick have agreed to work together to establish a joint group to study the access given, or refused, to Catholic priests to scenes of traumatic violence. In particular, the group will consider whether any changes are required to the guidance issued to officers faced with such situations.
It comes after the killing of Sir David Amess MP at a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday, 15 October 2021.
Remembrance and Prayer
Cardinal Nichols revealed the move in a short statement made after greeting Commissioner Cressida Dick ahead of the Catholic Police Guild’s annual Requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral.
The Mass took place on Tuesday, 9 November after a year’s break due to Covid restrictions, and was celebrated by the Bishop of Brentwood, the Right Reverend Alan Williams SM – the Guild’s newly appointed liaison to the Bishops’ Conference.
In his statement, Cardinal Nichols said:
“I welcome police officers from so many different part of the country to this Mass in which we remember and pray for your deceased colleagues. I offer a particular welcome to Dame Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.
“I wish to thank all of you for the service you give to the people of this country, often in the most difficult of circumstances and with the many challenges facing you.
“In recent times questions have arisen concerning the access given, or refused, to Catholic priests to scenes of traumatic violence, such as the violent death of Sir David Amess. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner and I have agreed to establish a joint group to study this issue and whether any changes are required to the guidance issued to officers faced with such a situation.
“I am grateful to the Commissioner for this agreement and I am confident that it will help to establish a helpful way forward in this matter of considerable sensitivity and importance to the Catholic community.”
The Mass was offered to remember and pray for those in the police service who have lost their lives and was attended by representatives from police forces around the country, both serving and retired, as well as several force chaplains and guild members.