'Reject the ways of violence' - Pope's message for Sir David Amess funeral

Sir David Amess was murdered during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea.(Photo: Parliament Live)

Pope Francis has paid tribute to the "devoted public service" of the late Catholic MP Sir David Amess in a message read out at his funeral service. 

The family of the Conservative MP, who was tragically murdered in Leigh-on Sea in Essex last month, were joined by leading political figures for his funeral at Westminster Cathedral on Tuesday.

The Pope's representative in the UK, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, delivered the "heartfelt condolences" of His Holiness in a message that also appealed for peace and an end to violence.

"The Holy Father prays that all who honour his memory will be confirmed in the resolve to reject the ways of violence, to combat evil with good, and to help build a society of ever greater justice, fraternity and solidarity," the Pope said. 

Canon Pat Browne, who wed Sir David and his wife Julia inside the cathedral 38 years ago, recalled with sadness  how he had rushed over to see the MP's staff after hearing news of the stabbing.

"They were devastated. There were many tears and it struck me forcefully, these people weren't just his staff," he said.

"They were his friends. They loved him. They were his team. His collaborators in the work for the constituents of Southend West.

"Friendship was David's great gift to others. Not just to those who worked alongside him and agreed with him but to everyone in the House including those who did not share his political or religious views."

Sir David, a staunch pro-lifer, was stabbed to death inside a church while meeting members of his Essex constituency.

Guests at the requiem mass included Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Prime Ministers Theresa May, David Cameron and Sir John Major. Leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer was also in attendance.

Despite the sombre occasion, there were also lighthearted moments with one anecdote shared about the time Sir David met the Pope and accidentally had his boiled sweet blessed.  

Ann Widdecombe also remembered him with humour in her eulogy. 

"David was an ardent pro-lifer and campaigner against abortion and that was how we became such close friends," she said.

"After I joined him on the green benches in 1987 and in the days of the all night sittings he, Ken Hargreaves, David Alton and I spent a lot of time in the early hours in the Pugin Room planning our tactics and diminishing the House's supply of Scotch!"