A Catholic priest has been suspended and faces criminal charges after it was revealed that he entered a civil partnership with a Pakistani man to help him stay in the UK.
Fr Donald Minchew, who had converted from the Anglican Church, was suspended after admitting to entering a civil partnership in 2008 with Mustajab Hussain.
The 66-year-old told The Mail that his civil partnership to Mr Hussain, 32, was “the only way I could see of getting him in the country”, adding that he and Mr Hussain had not seen each other for “donkey’s years”.
Mr Hussain faces an investigation by the Home Office and possible deportation and Fr Minchew could face prosecution for aiding unlawful immigration through the sham civil partnership.
The civil partnership certificate shows the event took place at the register office in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and was witnessed by David Nicholas and Edward Minchew, the priest’s brother. It records Fr Minchew’s previous marriage as having been dissolved.
Now a widower, the father of four insisted he was not gay and said Mr Hussain, a Muslim, had a wife.
Fr Minchew faces prosecution for assisting unlawful immigration.
He admitted he had not told the Catholic Church that he was in a civil partnership.
“That is an omission on my part and I will have to pay the price for it,” he said.
“You are talking to a ruined man. I am finished. End of story.”
Fr Michael Scanlon, who worked alongside Minchew at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Croydon, told IBTimes UK he had received a letter of resignation from the priest.
He said: “We were surprised this happened before he became a Catholic priest. We weren’t aware of it all.”
Fr Scanlon added: “We are not happy about same-sex unions and that will continue to be our position. But we would be ready and willing to help people who have gone down that road. As a pastoral priest we offer a hand of friendship to one and all from whatever background.”
Fr Minchew first hit the headlines in 2012 when he criticised the Church of England and defected with about 70 members his congregation from St Michael and All Angels to St Mary’s Catholic Church.
He told The Mail: “Those of us who believed in traditional values and opposed the ordination of women and other innovations, who were once an honoured and valued part of the Cof E, are now just being told to ‘sod off’. That’s the bottom line.
“They all talk of being inclusive and being a broad church when what they really mean is bugger off if you don’t believe in what we believe.
“Making the move has been like coming home. I feel like the Prodigal Son returning.
“It is a return to a faith that has fixed values that are not going to change at the next meeting of the General Synod.
“The Church of England has become like a buffet where you pick and choose which commandments and doctrines you want to follow.
“We are being fed this pap diet of common worship and banality upon banality rather than the Book of Common Prayer.”