Credit: Catholic Herald

“One of many small victories”: University of Nottingham REINSTATES ‘cancelled’ pro-life priest 

Fr. David Palmer, a Catholic priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham nominated to be chaplain of the University of Nottingham by local Bishop Patrick McKinney, before he was “cancelled” because of his pro-life tweets, as reported here by Gript.

Last month, the University said that it had declined to give official recognition to Fr. David Palmer as chaplain because they said had “concerns” about his posts on social media which advocated against assisted suicide and abortion (in-line with official Catholic Church teaching).

The unapologetic pro-lifer, who described abortion as the “slaughter of babies,” when commenting on the debate over U.S. President Joe Biden’s continuing to receive Holy Communion despite backing abortion, also condemned euthanasia and assisted suicide as the “killing [of] the vulnerable”.

The University of Nottingham said it had “respect” for the Catholic faith and “the robust exchange of views” on life issues on campus, but admitted that Fr. Palmer’s views were not welcome; his nomination to be the Catholic chaplain for the top-20 UK University was subsequently blocked.

The Russell Group University also tried to tell Fr Palmer what words he should have used when expressing his opinion. Fr. Palmer described the University’s attempts to stifle his expression on the issues as “a completely unacceptable policing of religious belief”.

Fr Palmer refused to retract his remarks, saying that what he said reflected the well-known and traditionally-held moral teaching of the Catholic Church.

Commenting on the case last month, columnist Olivia Utley said that the priest “expressed a belief that is intrinsic to being a Catholic” and asked if “five hundred years after the Reformation”, Catholics were “being hounded out of public life once again”.

Responding to his “cancellation” in late August, Fr. Palmer said that the decision was “crazy”, writing: “Anyone is allowed to disagree with what the Catholic church teaches, but to say you cannot teach the Catholic position, even to Catholics, is crazy”.

Now, the University has performed a U-turn on its decision to oust the priest from the position, reversing the cancellation.

“Following constructive and helpful dialogue with the Diocese of Nottingham over recent weeks, it has been agreed that Father David Palmer will be recognised under the procedure as university chaplain for the Catholic faith,” it said in a statement.

Last night, Fr. Palmer rejoiced at his reinstatement as chaplain, thanking groups Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and The Free Speech Union for their assistance during the debacle, tweeting: “I’m delighted that the University has now recognised the Bishop’s appointment of me as Catholic Chaplain. Lots of people helped us behind the scenes. The legal advice of @ADFIntl, @SpeechUnion (amongst others) was invaluable.”

Taking to social media, he also said that he was “looking forward” to the new role which is to start with immediate effect: “Nottingham University have released a statement with the agreement of the Diocese of Nottingham. I look forward to getting on with the job, starting with Mass tomorrow morning”.

In the university’s statement, shared by Fr Palmerhere, the university announced that the 51-year-old former Anglican has been accepted as chaplain under a revised procedure for the recognition of chaplains of all faiths who are nominated to work in its chaplaincy.

“The procedure makes room for a preparatory year to enable the nominated chaplain, the sponsoring faith body and the university to explore together if the role is right both for the individual and the multi-faith environment at Nottingham,” the statement read.

Many offered their congratulations to the English priest, with one person writing, “Well done, one of many small victories by the FSU that will eventually chip away [at the] injustices and indoctrination that this current gov allows and forces individuals to fight these battles on their own”.

The university’s turnaround comes just weeks after the Free Speech Union threatened to take it to court on the grounds that the cancellation of Fr Palmer represented a glaring breach of the 2010 Equality Act that prohibits public institutions from discriminating against anyone on the basis of their religious or philosophical beliefs. 

Dr Paul Greatrix, the university registrar, said: “We fully respect and safeguard our community’s freedom of speech and our chaplains’ expression of the tenets of their faith.

“The new procedure will ensure that our team of chaplains feel comfortable and supported in their work with students in what is a diverse and multi-faith community which has the full range of views on religious expression.

He added: “I look forward to Fr Palmer joining our chaplaincy team, and to him working on campus to provide the full ministry and pastoral support which is so valued in particular by our Catholic staff and students.”

The reversal was also welcomed by Bishop Patrick McKinney of Nottingham. “I am very pleased that the university has now recognised my appointment,” he said.

“Each one of us, in whatever walk of life we follow, has times when we need support, and the multi-faith chaplaincy of the University of Nottingham has always provided such support,” he continued.

“For Catholic students, perhaps away from home for the first time, and for staff too, the presence of a Catholic priest within the University is an opportunity for them to be strengthened in their faith.

“Having seen the pastoral work Fr David has undertaken from his parish in Lenton, I have every confidence that his presence on campus will be a blessing both for those of the Catholic community, and others in the wider university family who engage with the multi-faith environment.”

Previously, Fr. Palmer was barred from visiting except for one Mass each Sunday as a “guest priest” for staff and students. The policy effectively meant that there was no Catholic priest chaplain available for the university and its large medical school.

The cancellation had caused a vocal outcry among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Ann Furedi, outspoken abortion advocate and former chief executive of the largest abortion provider in the UK, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), even described the decision to remove Fr. Palmer as “stupid”.

Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related
Comments are open

The biggest problem Ireland faces right now is:

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...