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Nottingham University announces U-turn after blocking pro-life priest from chaplaincy role

by Heather Preston
Father David Palmer Credit Catholic Herald Youtube.png thumb.png - Banner image

The University of Nottingham has reversed its decision to deny a chaplaincy role to a priest over his views on abortion and assisted dying.

The University of Nottingham originally rejected Father David Palmer a chaplaincy role after he referred to abortion as the 'slaughter of unborn children' and assisted suicide as 'killing the vulnerable' on Twitter.

The university has since announced that Father David will be allowed to serve Catholic students on campus "with immediate effect" following a "revised chaplaincy recognition procedure".

In a statement, the university confirmed that the procedure "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 both for the individual and the multi-faith environment at Nottingham."

"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 this procedure as university chaplain for the Catholic faith. He will commence his work on campus as part of our multi-faith chaplaincy team with immediate effect," the statement reads.

ADF UK supported Father David in challenging the university's initial decision.

Spokesperson Lois McLatchie told Premier that the university had a similar situation occur last year: "We supported a pro-life midwifery student who had been suspended for her pro-life views too. We were able to see that suspension successfully challenged and see her return to university.

"So we see that free speech does win out in the end when public pressure is involved."

McLatchie argues that freedom of speech should be an integral part of all educational institutions.

"Students should be able to go to university and hear and exchange ideas that are important to their future.

"If universities want to uphold what they were made to be they are going to have to learn to welcome diverse thought and diverse opinions in order to freely exchange and debate."

ADF UK has since launched a campaign to protect freedom of speech on all UK campuses.

An open letter to the Prime Minister has had over 30,000 signatures.

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