The “prejudiced” views of a chaplain who hears confessions from students have been challenged after a leading politician questioned his suitability for the role at a Scottish university.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie has called for Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to consider whether its chaplain should continue after his church held an event calling Pride a “gross offence to God”.
Father Mark Morris, of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, invited parishioners to a Rosary of reparation, which took place on 16 July.
The event, which was advertised on the church’s website, was a “rosary of reparation for the gross offence to God which is Pride Glasgow”.
The annual Pride march in Glasgow took place on Saturday, and was led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
She said the march had celebrated “the values of tolerance, diversity, equality, love and respect”.
Father Morris celebrated mass at GCU’s Faith and Belief Centre each Thursday. He was also available to hear confession at the university.
Greens co-convener Harvie, who is a MSP for Glasgow, said he would be writing to new university chancellor Annie Lennox and principal Pamela Gillies over the chaplain’s service.
He said: “Thankfully Mark Morris’s prejudiced and outdated views are limited to an ever dwindling number of people in our society.
“Nevertheless, they need to be challenged and I hope that GCU will consider if it’s appropriate to have someone so hostile to equality as their chaplain, responsible for spiritual guidance to their students.
“The university’s chancellor Annie Lennox and its principal Pamela Gillies both have longstanding professional commitments to issues such as human rights and sexual health, so I’ll be writing to them to seek their views.”
David Sillars, an LGBT filmmaker and GCU lecturer, said Father Morris should be removed from his position and the university should be secular.
“I would like the university to start thinking about why it is not leading the way, as a modern university, should we have a secular campus?”
“Why was this man not vetted before he was allowed to become a chaplain? Have we ensured that other faith groups on campus are not promoting negative or discriminatory views? That’s not good for other students on campus. That’s going to make people feel intimated.
He said he had spoken to students who “felt frustrated” that they couldn’t make comment to the media as they had been told that the president of the student body would be making a statement.
“Anybody at the university trying to silence the voices of LGBTQ+ students really needs to take a good hard look at themselves. That’s not inclusivity, that’s censorship.”
We are concerned about the message that this could send to the young people of Caledonian University. Jordan Daly, Time for Inclusive Education
Jordan Daly, co-founder of Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) said: “The ethos of the [Pride] parade is equality and love, so it is sad and disappointing to see that Father Morris has countered those fundamental values by holding this service and allowing a narrative of exclusion and condemnation to enter the mainstream as a result.
“We are concerned about the message that this could send to the young people of Caledonian University, and so would like to stress that these predictable voices of opposition are becoming increasingly drowned out by a Catholic and wider faith community which is supportive of LGBT equality.
“There were many people of faith who attended the Parade this weekend, and in our efforts to advance LGBT-inclusive education in schools, we have been strongly supported by numerous Catholic Priests and their parishioners, as well as Church of Scotland and Scottish Episcopal Church ministers.”
He continued: “We know that those who support the LGBT community outweigh those who endorse intolerance, and I imagine that the number of attendees to this service in contrast with those who attended the Pride parade would further prove that.”
Glasgow Caledonian University principal, professor Pamela Gillies, promised to investigate. “I am extremely disappointed to hear of the service Father Morris has apparently held in response to the very successful Pride event in Glasgow last Saturday,” she said.
“The views implied are antithetical to those held by the university, which is strongly inclusive. We actively respect and promote equality and diversity and this has included having an official presence at the last two Pride Glasgow events. I shall be looking further into this matter.”
Father Morris and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church did not respond to requests for comment.
Update: July 18, 3.15pm
The university has confirmed that Father Morris will not return to his role as chaplain.
Glasgow Caledonian University principal, professor Pamela Gillies said: “Following due consultation Father Mark Morris will not return to his chaplaincy role at the University in September.
“The University will work with the Archdiocese of Glasgow to ensure the continued provision of chaplaincy support for staff and students at our Faith and Belief Centre when the new term starts.
“The University is strongly inclusive and committed to supporting equality and diversity on campus.”
I was brought up in the Catholic faith. I try to keep my kids better informed.
God is an offence to compassion, reason and sense.
I was brought up in the catholic faith, went to church confessional as a child and made up stuff to please the adult hiding in the wee box because I couldn’t remember doing anything bad that week.
I had my doubts at a very early age.