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Catholic priest who sued hospital for religious discrimination gets $12,000 settlement

A Roman Catholic priest who sued a London National Health Service Trust for harassment, religious discrimination and victimization received £10,000 – or roughly $12,000 – in a settlement.

Before Rev. Patrick Pullicino’s case could head to the Croydon Employment Tribunal in July, the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust settled with the priest after his story gained international attention, according to his lawyers at the London-based Christian Legal Centre.

The 73-year-old priest was a temporary staff member at South West London and St. George’s Mental Health NHS Trust in August 2019 when he was told that the Trust’s policy on equality and diversity “takes precedence over religious belief” after a patient complained when he told him the Church’s teaching on marriage.

Pullicino told Fox News Digital previously that the incident that led to his dismissal from the hospital took place when a Catholic patient requested to take a walk with him and another staff member, during which he told the priest he planned to marry his same-sex partner and asked what he thought about it.

CATHOLIC PRIEST SUES AFTER ALLEGEDLY BEING FIRED FROM HOSPITAL FOR ANSWERING PATIENT QUESTIONS ABOUT MARRIAGE

Rev. Patrick Pullicino pursued legal action against an NHS Trust after he was allegedly expelled for answering a patient's questions.

Rev. Patrick Pullicino pursued legal action against an NHS Trust after he was allegedly expelled for answering a patient’s questions. (Christian Concern)

“So I said to him, ‘Well, what do you think God would say about that?’ This is a Catholic asking a Catholic chaplain – obviously within a secular hospital, but he obviously wanted Catholic doctrine, but that’s all I would give anyway,” Pullicino recounted.

“I didn’t try to push it on him, I just sort of laid it out to try to open his mind slowly about it, and it wasn’t a confrontational talk.” After the patient disclosed that his father disapproved of his lifestyle, Pullicino said he would agree and encouraged him “to try and make up with his father.”

CATHOLIC PRIEST SUES AFTER ALLEGEDLY BEING FIRED FROM HOSPITAL FOR ANSWERING PATIENT QUESTIONS ABOUT MARRIAGE

“Particularly people with psychiatric illness, they definitely need the family support. So I didn’t share too much more,” he said.

Pullicino had a successful career in the NHS as a consultant neurologist before he became a priest in 2019, and achieved widespread recognition for helping to expose the abuses of the Liverpool Care Pathway, an end-of-life protocol in the U.K. that was later abolished after scrutiny.

Springfield University Hospital building

Springfield University Hospital building (Google Maps)

Following his exchange, Pullicino was told the patient filed a formal complaint against him. Vanessa Ford, the acting chief executive of South West London and St. George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, reportedly said in a written response to the complaint that the Trust’s policy on equality and diversity “takes precedence over religious belief.”

Part of the complaint against Pullicino alleged he had told the patient “you should not be with your husband” and “that you would go to hell,” both of which accusations he vehemently denied. The priest ultimately had his contract with the hospital terminated while he was on annual leave in January 2020, according to his lawyers.

“We are pleased that we have agreed an outcome with Mr. Pullicino which avoids the need for further proceedings. We remain absolutely committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for our patients, staff and communities.”

— – spokesperson for the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust

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Pullicino then lodged a grievance against Ford and the way she handled the situation. Ford later acknowledged “on reflection” that her letter should have been phrased differently and that religious beliefs are “afforded exactly the same rights as the other eight protected characteristics.”

For also noted “there was no suggestion that the Trust felt you had told the patient that he would go to hell.”

The reason given for Pullicino's termination was reportedly "budgetary constraint," though he noted his pay was very low.

The reason given for Pullicino’s termination was reportedly “budgetary constraint,” though he noted his pay was very low. (georgeclerk via Getty Images)

“We are pleased that we have agreed an outcome with Mr. Pullicino which avoids the need for further proceedings,” a spokesperson for South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust told Fox News Digital.

“We remain absolutely committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for our patients, staff and communities. We respect and celebrate all protected characteristics equally, including religion, race, sexual orientation, disability, age, sex, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity,” the spokesperson continued.

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“We take seriously our responsibility to ensure patients’ spiritual needs are met, and we oppose any form of discrimination. We seek to protect all patients and members of staff in line with the Equality Act 2010.”

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