A Catholic Priest has slammed the University of Nottingham for “unacceptable policing of religious belief” after refusing to “officially” recognise him over views on abortion and euthanasia.
Father David Palmer, who serves in the Diocese of Nottingham, was appointed the role of chaplain to the Catholic communities at UoN and NTU.
However, while NTU has accepted his appointment by Bishop Patrick McKinney, UoN has refused to “officially” recognise him because he referred to abortions as the “slaughter of babies” and suggested that assisted dying may be used to “kill the vulnerable”, in reference to the Government’s Assisted Dying Bill.
Well one of the reasons the University of Nottingham (@UoNSU @UoNCatholic) won’t “officially” recognise me as a Chaplain is because of this… I happen to believe (with the Catholic Church) that assisted dying is killing the vulnerable… https://t.co/9l85Te8cJ4
— Fr David Palmer (@FrDavidPalmer) August 23, 2021
A spokesperson for the university said: “Our concern was not in relation to Father David’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.”
Following an interview with Father David at UoN on June 17, the University wrote to McKinney expressing concern.
At a later meeting on July 1, the University specified that the concerns raised were over Palmer’s social media posts referring to abortion and assisted suicide.
Speaking to the Catholic News Agency, he said: “They referenced a tweet where I had referred to the proposed ‘assisted dying’ bill [introduced in Britain’s Parliament in May] as a bill to allow the NHS ‘to kill the vulnerable’.
“I was told it was fine for me to have this opinion, but they were concerned with how I expressed it.
“When I asked how they would suggest I express it, quite remarkably, they suggested I should call it ‘end of life care’, which is completely unacceptable policing of religious belief.”
A fellow Father for the Nottingham Diocese, and chaplain to the University of Derby, came to Palmer’s defence on Twitter.
.@UniofNottingham took issue with @FrDavidPalmer saying euthanasia is killing the vulnerable and abortion the slaughter of innocents. As a Catholic I believe the same. So why did Notts Uni recognise me as Lay Catholic Chaplain 2010-12? Would they recognise me now? What’s changed?
— Fr Jonathan Whitby-Smith (@FrJWhitbySmith) August 28, 2021
For a bit of context… https://t.co/EKPFwMAbyp
— Fr David Palmer (@FrDavidPalmer) August 24, 2021
Father Palmer defended his posts as reflecting Catholic belief, and also claimed that the University requested Bishop McKinney replace him with another chaplain, though McKinney declined.
He added: “The University says they have ‘no issue with the expression of faith in robust terms’, but this is precisely what they had an issue with.
“The University claims to support ‘diversity and inclusion’, but it appears that diversity only goes so far, certainly not as far as the Catholic chaplain being able to express ‘robustly’ mainstream Catholic beliefs.”
In November 2020, a Catholic Midwifery student at the University received a pay-out and an apology after she was “blocked” from entering her hospital placement section of the course, after it was discovered she led a pro-life student group.
However, the decision was, only later, overturned.
Lead image: Catholic News Agency