English police guidelines change after Catholic MP dies without Last Rites

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Police guidelines in the U.K. have changed to allow clergy to assist badly injured crime victims after Catholic Member of Parliament David Amess died without benefit of the Last Rites when police failed to grant access to a priest who had rushed to the crime scene.

Catholic leaders said the change will help meet the religious needs of crime victims in England and Wales.

“This is really encouraging news. For the first time, we have official guidance from the police that recognizes the importance of priests and the sacrament of the Last Rites,” Nigel Parker, executive director of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, said April 1. “We are extremely grateful to everyone involved in the working group for producing such a clear and sensible set of guidance notes.”

In Catholic practice, “Last Rites” are the name for the final sacraments and prayers for the dying. Catholics in danger of death are strongly encouraged to take part in these rites.