English university reverses course, will recognize pro-life priest as a chaplain


After announcing it would not recognize Catholic priest Father David Palmer as a chaplain, the University of Nottingham has reversed course.

“Following constructive and helpful dialogue with the Diocese of Nottingham over recent weeks, it has been agreed that Father David Palmer will be recognised… as university chaplain for the Catholic faith,” the university announced on September 25.

Father David tweeted two days later that “Lots of people helped us behind the scenes” in getting him the recognition of his appointment, including legal advice from ADF International and the Free Speech Union, which he called “invaluable.” The Free Speech Union, a non-partisan public interest body that works for the speech rights of its members, argued that “the Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for a public institution to discriminate against someone on the basis of their religious or philosophical beliefs, and the fact that Fr. David’s appointment has been obstructed in this way… suggests that he is the victim of unlawful discrimination.”

The university had interviewed Father David in June and in a July 1 meeting expressed concern about some of Father David’s social media posts that spoke out against assisted suicide and abortion — two issues the Catholic Church stands firmly against.

According to the Catholic News Agency, the university developed a new procedure for the recognition of chaplains that “allows for a preparatory year to enable the nominated chaplain, the sponsoring faith body and the university to explore together if the role is right for the individual and the multi-faith environment at Nottingham.”

Dr. Paul Greatrix, the university’s registrar said the new procedure “will ensure that, in a spirit of support and collaboration, the university and faith leaders can welcome chaplains who will, absolutely, hold their faith primary whilst fully engaging with a multi-faith environment.”

Bishop Patrick McKinney of Nottingham, who appointed Father David as Catholic Chaplain, said he is “very pleased” that the university has decided to recognize the appointment and that “in developing a new approach to recognition and support for chaplains, I acknowledge that the university is striving to demonstrate its commitment to the importance of this role within the wider university experience.” He added, “I appreciate the period of constructive dialogue which has led to this development, and I look forward to seeing the university’s chaplaincy continue to flourish.”

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