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, 15th October 2021.
Cardinal Vincent made the announcement in a short statement, greeting Commissioner Cressida Dick ahead of the annual Catholic Police Guild (CPG) Requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral on 9th November 2021.
In his statement, the Cardinal also welcomed police officers from around the country: '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.'
The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Alan Williams SM, the CPG's newly-appointed liaison to the Bishops' Conference. The Requiem Mass takes place each year in November, the month of the Holy Souls, to pray for deceased members of the CPG. It is attended by serving and retired representatives from police forces around the country, as well as several CPG chaplains.
The Cardinal's full statement
'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 days 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.'
Photo: Cardinal Vincent and Dame Cressida outside Westminster Cathedral before Mass (Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk)