Nottingham University accepts pro-life priest

Father David Palmer(Photo: Twitter)

A Catholic priest initially turned down for a chaplaincy role by the University of Nottingham has now been accepted. 

Fr David Palmer was nominated for the role of Catholic chaplain to the university by his bishop, Patrick McKinney.

But his appointment hit a stumbling block when university bosses became concerned about his pro-life tweets on abortion and euthanasia. 

This included one tweet criticising US President Joe Biden over his support for abortion and the other warning that legalising assisted suicide would kill the vulnerable.

At the time, a University of Nottingham spokesperson said the issue was not Fr Palmer's views but how they were expressed.

"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," the spokesperson said.

"Our concern was not therefore 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."

The university faced strong criticism over its stance, with former chaplain to the Queen, Gavin Ashenden, calling it the "illiberal censorship of Christianity". 

"Nottingham's objecting to the descriptive language Fr Palmer used is simply a disingenuous way of disguising the raw politicization of its own censorship," he said. 

Fr Palmer's nomination has now been accepted after a change to the university's procedures which includes a trial year for all chaplains. 

Bishop McKinney said he was "very pleased" that Fr Palmer had now been accepted. 

"Prayers and blessings upon his ministry to students and staff in the two universities of the city of Nottingham," he said.

Fr Palmer commented on Twitter: "I look forward to getting on with the job."