4:18pm Sunday 23rd March 2014
© Press Association 2014
A Catholic priest has been suspended after admitting he entered into a sham civil partnership so a Pakistani national could obtain a British passport.
Father Donald Minchew went along with the arrangement in 2008 while he was an Anglican vicar.
He converted to Catholicism in 2012 after criticising the Church of England's withdrawal from traditional values.
A statement from Monsignor Keith Newton, who oversees Anglican vicars who convert to Catholicism, was read out to the congregation at Father Minchew's Croydon church in south London today.
It stated: " I regret to inform you that it has been necessary for me to withdraw Father Donald Minchew from public ministry for the time being.
"This is because two days ago he informed me that in 2008 - four years before he was ordained as a Catholic priest - he entered into a civil partnership in order to gain a British passport for a Pakistani national whose family is well known to him.
"I had no previous knowledge of this and I need now to investigate the implications fully."
He added: " Father Minchew has informed me that this partnership involved no sexual relationship. He deeply regrets his action. He apologises unreservedly for any harm or embarrassment he has caused."
Father Minchew, aged in his 60s, told the Mail on Sunday: "You are talking to a ruined man. I am finished. End of story."
When asked about the civil partnership, he replied: " It was the only way I could see of getting him in the country."
He said he had not seen the other man for "donkey's years".
A Home Office spokesman said: " We are determined to crack down on immigration offenders. We take all reports of abuse of the system seriously and take action where appropriate."
Two years ago Father Minchew made headlines when he left St Michael's and All Angels Church in Croydon after 16-and-a-half years to join the nearby St Mary's Catholic Church. Almost half of his congregation went with him.
He disagreed with decisions being made by the Church of England - such as the ordination of female priests and bishops - which he described as " a bit like a buffet, where you can pick and choose which commandments and doctrines you follow".
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