Priest with TV Ministry Sacrfices Career for Affair with Cousin

job interview A popular Southern California priest risked it all -- his standing in the church, his own television ministry, his reputation as a religious author, even his sermon-oriented smart phone app--to have an affair with his cousin, the 59-year-old Monterey County superintendent of schools.

Father Mike Manning is currently taking a leave of absence after the public disclosure of his affair with Nancy Kotowski, who has been confirmed as his second cousin. John Andrews, director of communications for the Diocese of San Bernardino, told the Los Angeles Times that Manning is stepping down "to take some time to reflect on what he's gone through and why it happened and to look at that in the context of his priesthood to get himself oriented so he can go forward positively." The decision was reported to be a mutual one between Manning and the Catholic Church.

The affair was brought to pubic attention when the San Bernardino Sun published excerpts of personal correspondence between Manning and Kotowski. Manning has not denied writings to Kotowski which contained quotes such as:

"The reality is I was living two lives: one as a priest who was vowed to celibacy and another life as a sexually active man in our sexual intimacy," and "the sexuality was secondary. It's very hard when you care for someone, but I love my priesthood more. I admit the fact of my sinfulness. I've done wrong. That's why I've stopped."

Manning's ministry included the TV program "The Word in the World," which was seen weekly on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and reached more than 200,000 households. It was also broadcast on Catholic TV networks in the U.S. and on the American Forces Network.

In addition, he has written publications such as "Life Full of Surprises," "Questions and Answers for Today's Catholics," and "Why Do Catholics Leave the Church?"

It's unclear how Kotowski's career, which includes being an elected official, educator, education researcher and policy expert, will be affected by the affair, which she does not deny. She reportedly calls Manning her "soul-mate," and hopes the affair will open up dialogue about the Catholic Church's stand on celibacy and the priesthood.

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