Diversity takes precedence over religion? The case of Rev Dr Patrick Pullicino

Mar 28, 2023 by

by Roger Kiska, Christian Today:

“Diversity takes precedence over religion.” This is the rather remarkable statement made by an NHS Trust to Rev Dr Patrick Pullicino, a Catholic Chaplain and former professor of neurosciences. The Rev Dr acted as a Chaplain at the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust.

On 20 August 2019, Rev Pullicino was assigned to visit a male patient on one of the hospital’s mental health wards. The two, at the patient’s request, went for a walk outside and talked. During their 20-minute conversation, the patient told Rev Pullicino that he was in a same-sex relationship and that he wished to legally marry his partner. The patient asked Rev. Pullicino his opinion on the matter as a Catholic priest.

At no point did Rev Pullicino condemn the patient or chastise him for his relationship. In fact, he expressed empathy and compassion because the patient’s father was at odds with him over the relationship. Nevertheless, in accordance with Rev Pullicino’s deeply held beliefs, and the very clear teaching of the Catholic Church, he could not affirm the man in his same-sex relationship or encourage him to get married.


As a result of this conversation, the patient complained about Rev Pullicino to the Trust. The following day, Rev Pullicino was barred by another member of staff from entering the ward because of the complaint. Even after the patient was discharged, Rev Pullicino continued to be barred from visiting patients. He was told that the Trust might consider allowing him to return should he submit a formal written response admitting that his comments were against the Trust’s values and behaviours, that he understood why his comments were wrong, and that he promised not to re-offend when approached about LGBT matters.

The Trust repeatedly apologised to the patient and launched a formal investigation. In correspondence from the Acting Chief Executive of the Trust, Vanessa Ward, to the patient, the Trust vowed that Rev Pullicino’s supervisor would make sure that the Rev Dr understood that Equality and Diversity takes precedence over his religious beliefs.

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