The Pope praised Sir David Amess's years of service "guided by his strong Catholic faith" in a message read at a Westminster Cathedral service for the Conservative MP who was stabbed to death in a terror attack in October.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined former prime ministers, the Speaker of the House and the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at the service.

Following his death, MPs paid tribute to Sir David in the Commons and a service was held in Sir David's honour at St Margaret ’ s Church.

The message continued : "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 help build a society of ever greater justice, fraternity and solidarity."

Southend West MP Sir David was killed during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on October 15.

Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, a friend of Sir David's, said before the service that the death of Sir David still had a "great air of unreality about it".

"We 're all asking ourselves why, I don't think anybody can tell you why."

The service will be followed by a private interment.

ali harbi ali, 25, has been charged with his murder and also with preparing acts of terrorism between may 2019 and september this year.

He is due to enter pleas in December.

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They thanked him with a round of applause as his coffin, draped in a union flag, was borne into and out of St Mary's parish church in Prittlewell.

There will be a second service for him at Westminster Cathedral on Tuesday.

"It is very, very sad.

The message from Pope Francis praised the politician for his "deep concern for the poor and disadvantaged" and called on mourners to “ reject the ways of violence ” and “ combat evil with good ”.

She said she thought of Sir David, who was a practising Catholic and led the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See, was "probably the most important person in Britain" to the Pope.

She added : "Obviously I am feeling sad but, on the other hand, today is a great occasion to see so many people come to pay their respects to David, to celebrate his life.

After the church service, they carried the coffin to a horse-drawn hearse for a procession around Southend.

Hundreds of people gathered outside Southend's Civic Centre to pay their respects as the hearse, led by four black horses, paused in front of it.

"I think he inspired feelings of affection, love and admiration for the causes he espoused," Mr Johnson said.

The prime minister told how he and his cabinet were taking part in a technology event when news of the MP's death first came through.

"Everybody was absolutely devastated," he said.

"He was a valiant campaigner for a long time for leaving the European Union, and he was ultimately successful in that, and he has the permanent memorial of having transformed Southend into a city.

"i think what he would want is for us to be able to meet our constituents in the normal way.

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