Church leaders have paid tribute to the Catholic Labour MP Jim Dobbin who died on Sunday aged 73.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, spoke of his profound sorrow and sense of loss at his unexpected death.
"Jim Dobbin has been a stalwart servant of this country throughout his long life, especially in his Parliamentary career. His service was particularly robust and persevering in matters concerning the fundamental dignity of every human life, from the moment of conception to its natural end.
This is the most radical service than can be given, for once that fundamental respect for human life is lost, then society is dramatically weakened and the vulnerable put into real danger,” he said.
The Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, remembered his deep faith and his integrity.
“At a time when taking a public stand on life issues, especially abortion, was particularly hard, he was always courageous and steadfast in standing up for what he believed to be right, and he did this for very many years against an often harsh and wintry prevailing climate of opinion.
Because of his manifest integrity and the respect and courtesy he always showed others, I know he came to be highly respected on all sides of the House of Commons. He was an exemplary servant of both his faith and his country. He is a great loss to Parliament, constituency, party and, of course, the Church. May he rest in peace,” he said.
Labour leader Ed Miliband praised the Heywood and Middleton MP for his efforts to bring Church and Government together.
"A lifelong committed Catholic, Jim always took a lead in fostering links between the Church and the Labour Party, and his strong faith informed every aspect of his political and public life. This was recognised by Pope Benedict XVI when he made Jim a Papal knight,” he said.
Jim Dobbin died suddenly on Sunday. He was in Poland on a Council of Europe trip.
Above: Jim Dobbin at a CSAN Parliamentary Reception in 2011. Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk