News Headlines > Ordinariate reinstates cleric who entered civil partnership

10 April 2015 | by Joanna Moorhead

Ordinariate reinstates cleric who entered civil partnership

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The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has reinstated a priest who had been suspended for entering into a civil partnership immigrant to help him stay in the UK.

Fr Donald Minchew, who is separately under investigation for financial irregularity by his former Anglican diocese, was removed from his post as leader of the Croydon branch of the Ordinariate a year ago, after he admitted he had entered into a civil partnership with Pakistani national Mustajab Hussain in 2008. He failed to disclose this four years later when he has received into the Catholic Church and ordained a priest.

Catholic priests are forbidden from entering civil partnerships while Anglican clergy are permitted to do so as long as they live in a chaste relationship.

At the time the civil partnership was revealed Fr Minchew, 67, told a newspaper: “You are talking to a ruined man.  I am finished.  End of story.”

But now Mgr Keith Newton, the leader of the ordinariate, has said that “after much prayer and discussion” with Fr Minchew and Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark he had decided to lift his suspension. The ordinariate is answerable directly to the Holy See and Mgr Newton, while not being a bishop, effectively has the powers associated with that office. He also sits on the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales   

Fr Minchew, who previously said Mass for his Ordinariate congregation at St Mary’s in Croydon, has now moved his services to Virgo Fidelis Church in Upper Norwood. 

The civil partnership between Fr Minchew, a widower who is a father of four, and Mr Hussain has now been dissolved, but Fr Minchew’s defence of it had been that he and Mr Hussain were old friends whose fathers had served together during the Second World War, and that the partnership had been a way of allowing him to stay in the country. After investigating, the Home Office decided not to pursue charges on the matter. 

As an Anglican priest, Fr Minchew was vicar of St Michael and All Angels in Poplar Walk and during his tenure the church bought a property in Australia for £140,000 as an investment opportunity. 

Mgr Keith Newton and Fr Minchew did not return the Tablet’s request for comments and the Diocese of Southwark said it would not be appropriate to comment as an investigation was “ongoing”. 

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