Priest cancelled by university for posting anti-abortion tweets

A priest whose appointment as a university chaplain has been blocked has said he will take legal action if there are grounds to do so.

David Palmer was nominated as Catholic chaplain to the University of Nottingham by Bishop Patrick McKinney.

But the university’s senior leadership rejected the nomination when the priest posted about abortion and euthanasia on Twitter.

A spokesman for the university told BBC East Midlands: "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.

“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.”

Father David said it “makes no sense” to be able to hold a belief but not express it.

He said: “The university talks about diversity all the time - diversity means allowing different opinions.

“Anyone is allowed to disagree with what the Catholic church teaches but to say you cannot teach the Catholic position, even to Catholics, is crazy.”

Among Father David’s supporters is Ann Furedi, former head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

She tweeted: “So stupid the cancel this guy. He’s a Catholic priest – let Catholic students decide individually is they want his counsel.”

In a separate tweet she said: “I support women’s right to abortion because I believe in their right to act on a conscience-based decision.

“My support for a Catholic Chaplain’s right to express his views comes from the same place. It’s that simple.”

Father David is also supported by The Free Speech Union which has written to the university on his behalf.

He said he would "take advice as to the realistic possible steps afterwards" and would consider legal action.

• In 2015, David Palmer was one of 500 priests criticised by Cardinal Vincent for publicly voicing their concerns about the Family Synod.

In a letter published in The Catholic Herald, the priests called on the synod to make a “clear and firm proclamation” upholding Church teaching on marriage.

Responding in a statement, Cardinal Nichols said: “This dialogue, between a priest and his bishop, is not best conducted through the press.”

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