The University of Nottingham has decided it will no longer recognise its elected Catholic chaplain, Father David Palmer, following tweets regarding abortion and euthanasia. Felix Hawes tells us more about the decision.
The University of Nottingham has chaplains from a variety of faiths to help students in their spiritual needs. However, this year, the Roman Catholic Church, Britain’s second largest religious denomination, will be lacking an official chaplain.
Father David Palmer, also a graduate of the University, tweeted that a proposed bill to permit ‘assisted dying’ would allow the NHS ‘to kill the vulnerable’. And, when discussing President Joe Biden’s Catholic faith, tweeted that abortion was ‘the slaughter of babies’.
The Roman Catholic Church is vehemently opposed to both abortion and euthanasia, the latter of which is illegal in the United Kingdom.
Speaking to the Catholic Herald, a spokesperson for The University of Nottingham said that their concerns ‘were not in relation to Palmer’s views themselves, but the manner in which these views have been expressed in the context of our diverse community of people of many faiths’.
The University initially asked the Bishop to provide a different chaplain
The University’s ‘diverse community of people of many faiths’ includes other religions such as Islam and Judaism which also contain many sects that are opposed to abortion and euthanasia.
Responding to the University’s comments on the reasons for his dismissal, David Palmer told GB News, “The opinion I’ve got is that euthanasia is killing the vulnerable, that is the opinion of the Catholic Church. So, it means nothing to say you can hold those opinions but can’t say them… Diversity means allowing people to have different opinions.”
The University initially asked the Bishop to provide a different chaplain but after the Bishop refused, the University agreed that David Palmer could perform mass on campus as a ‘guest priest’, with the chaplain post filled by a layman.
The University has caused controversy previously over its acceptance of people who hold pro-life views after Catholic student Julia Rynkievicz was blocked from entering her hospital’s placement phase after the University learned of her involvement leading a pro-life student group. The student received a settlement from the University in November 2020.
The blocking of Father David Palmer has caused a wider debate in the country over free speech at universities, resulting in many coming to the priest’s defence. Ann Furedi, former chief executive of BPAS, Britain’s largest abortion provider, tweeted that the move was ‘stupid’ and that Catholic students should ‘decide individually if they want his counsel’.
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