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World News

'I'm assuming Pope Francis wouldn't get recognised at Nottingham University either,' says priest denied chaplain role due to expression of religious views

A Catholic priest appointed by his diocese as a chaplain for Nottingham University has been denied recognition by the University due to his use of language in tweets about assisted dying and abortion. 

Father David Palmer will be allowed to take mass on a Sundays for staff and students as a guest chaplain but will not be recognised as an official chaplain. Nottingham Trent accepted his appointment. 

The points of contention were two tweets, one on assisted dying and another on abortion. 

Fr David Palmer told Premier: "The Telegraph had run an article about Matt Hancock wanting to bring in the assisted dying bill through I put, 'having spent a year locking down society to supposedly protect the vulnerable. Now, Matt Hancock is wanting to put through a bill that will allow the NHS to kill the vulnerable.'" 

The priest was told it they had concerns because of the language he used, when he questioned what he could have said, he claims the University said he should have called it "end of life care". 

Speaking to Premier, he commented: "From a Catholic point of view, killing a sick person is not end of life care."

Fr David said the University also questioned his ability to support someone who wanted to end their own life through euthanasia. 

"They were concerned that I might not be able to support them. And I said, well, bearing in mind, it would be illegal anyway...I said, I'll talk to them and of course, I'll try and encourage them not to kill themselves."

He said the second tweet which lost him the role was in the context of Catholic Bishops in America being accused of 'weaponising the Eucharist' by not giving President Joe Biden holy communion because of his stance on abortion. 

Fr David wrote online that the "real scandal is not bishops not giving him communion. It's a Catholic politician who is funding the slaughter of unborn children," referring to the Democrat Party funding Planned Parenthood and talking about extending government support for the abortion industry. Fr David said he was making an inference to King Herod's slaughter of babies in the New Testament too. 

"If life begins at conception, which the Catholic Church teaches very, very clearly, then to kill an unborn child on a mass industrial scale, which is what we're talking about...slaughter seems an appropriate word for that. Pope Francis himself, for example, referred to abortion like hiring a hitman. So I'm assuming he wouldn't get recognised at Nottingham University either.

"If you're a Catholic priest and you can't express Catholic teaching, there's no point being a Catholic chaplain." 

The University of Nottingham told Premier in a statement: "The University of Nottingham values Catholic chaplaincy very highly as part of our multi-faith approach where dedicated chaplains provide invaluable support to staff and students of each faith. 
"A University should be a place for the robust exchange of views and debate over ideas, and we have no issue with the expression of faith in robust terms - indeed we would expect any chaplain to hold their faith as primary. 
"We ask nominated chaplains for any faith to participate in a recognition process to ensure they are able to minister in a large, international and formally secular educational environment and work creatively with the diversity of all faiths within our community in a non-partisan way.
"Our concern was not in relation to Father David's views themselves, or the tenets of the Catholic faith which we fully respect, but the manner in which these views have been expressed in the context of our diverse community of people of many faiths. 
"We are therefore grateful to the Bishop of Nottingham for his solution that the current chaplain remains the recognised chaplain and that Father David will attend the University campus each week to celebrate Sunday mass for staff and students. 
"We are continuing a constructive dialogue with the diocese to ensure that staff and students of Catholic faith are fully supported under this arrangement. The University remains totally committed to continuing our 90-year tradition of providing Catholic chaplaincy."

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