UKs largest private abortion provider defends priest

The Telegraph

The former chief executive of the UK’s largest private abortion provider is defending Nottinhgham University’s Catholic chaplain whose pro-life opinions resulted in his appointment being cancelled.

Ann Furedi (pictured), who formerly led the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said the university was “stupid” for refusing to recognise Fr David Palmer as chaplain.

Palmer had published a Twitter post saying abortion was the “slaughter of babies” and assisted suicide was “killing the vulnerable”.

As a result, the university declined to confirm Palmer’s appointment. Instead, it will allow him to visit only once a week as a “guest priest”. This has resulted in the university and its large medical school being left without a Catholic chaplain.

The so-called “cancellation” of Palmer’s appointment has prompted an outcry from Catholic and non-Catholic commentators alike.

“So stupid to cancel this guy … he’s a Catholic priest – let Catholic students decide individually if they want his counsel,” Furedi tweeted.

Furedi also retweeted a post by science writer, comedian and broadcaster Timandra Harkness, which said:

“This is terrible. I disagree with his views on abortion but as a Catholic priest he’s expressing a mainstream Catholic view. Universities can’t tell chaplains what religious beliefs to express.”

Palmer welcomed the comments, saying they further revealed the “ludicrous” position adopted by the university.

“Obviously, it was not what I expected,” he said of the former abortion provider.

“This is somebody who, for her whole career really, has advocated for or provided abortion and who is now saying it is ridiculous for the university to cancel me as a Catholic chaplain and that it makes the university look ludicrous.

“She is saying that if you are a Catholic priest you are clearly going to have this view and for the university to cancel me for having them clearly makes them look ridiculous.

“It is taking a view which is more extreme than the former chief executive officer of BPAS.”

When the university announced it would not recognise Palmer’s appointment as chaplain (which had been confirmed by his bishop), the university said:

“Our concern was not in relation to Fr. David’s views themselves, but the manner in which these views have been expressed in the context of our diverse community of people of many faiths.”

Palmer says he was summoned to the university to explain his forthright criticism of Baroness Meacher’s Assisted Dying Bill. The Bill seeks to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales. It will receive its Second Reading in the House of Lords in October.

The bishops of England and Wales are encouraging Catholics to oppose the Bill, suggesting they contact political representatives to ask them to speak and vote against it.

Palmer said university staff said he should refer to assisted suicide as “end of life care”.

He refused to do so, saying their intervention represented “a completely unacceptable policing of religious belief”.

Last November, the university had to apologise and compensate a Catholic undergraduate midwifery student after barring her from a hospital placement over her leadership of a pro-life student group.


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