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TV priest Mike Manning on leave after acknowledging affair

Father_manning A well-known San Bernardino priest with a large television ministry will take a leave of absence in the wake of the public disclosure of an affair with a school-system administrator in Northern California, church officials confirmed Thursday.

Father Mike Manning, a popular TV minister and technology pioneer who developed sermon applications for smart phones, will step 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,” said John Andrews, director of communications for the Diocese of San Bernardino. “Whenever a situation of sin with a priest happens that’s often what is recommended or decided.”

The decision to take a leave was reached mutually by Manning and local church leadership, Andrews said. Manning belongs to an order within the church called the Society of the Divine Word, which has ultimate responsibility for his pastoral assignments.

Manning has acknowledged a sexual relationship with Nancy Kotowski, the Monterey County superintendent of schools, which is an elected position. Kotowski is described on Manning’s Wordnet Production’s website as “Father Mike’s own cousin” and the author of a currently sold-out tract called “Dealing with Teenagers.” Published reports have clarified that Kotowski is a second cousin.

Manning told church colleagues that he had broken off the affair at least two years before its public disclosure in the San Bernardino Sun and other publications.

The Sun published excerpts of personal correspondence between Manning and Kotowski. Manning, who could not be reached, has not challenged the authenticity of the correspondence.

"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," Manning wrote to Kotowski, according to the paper.

"We've been such good friends, and there's a deep love we have for each other," he wrote in another excerpt. "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 program, “The Word in the World,” is seen weekly on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, reaching more than 200,000 households, according to Manning’s website. His programs are also broadcast on Catholic TV networks in the U.S. and on the American Forces Network. Manning has been hosting and producing religious programming since 1972.

His books and booklets include “Life Full of Surprises,” “Questions and Answers for Today’s Catholics,” “Why Do Catholics Leave the Church?” and an autobiography, “On Camera and Off.”

“He’s a one of a kind in our diocese, for sure, in terms of doing media ministry in using television and the Internet to talk about the Catholic faith in a way that inspires people,” Andrews said. “His ministry has been very important here and it’s reached far beyond our diocese.”

Kotowski, 59, has a long career as an educator, education researcher and policy expert and public official. She did not respond to a request for an interview Thursday but spoke briefly for another article, reportedly calling Manning her “soul-mate.”

"The reality is that we love the church, we're committed to the church, but I'm hoping a dialogue will open up [about] obligatory celibacy, the whole question of celibacy," she told the Monterey Herald. "Is it right for all people?"

Andrews said that Manning appeared committed to remaining in the ministry.

“He has said he loves being a priest and wants to continue,” Andrews said. “He’s a very joyful person and that’s because I think he loves being a priest.”


Priest is relieved of duties; church official resigns

-- Howard Blume

Photo: Father Mike Manning. Credit: TBN.

Comments () | Archives (79)

A priest with a woman. Wow who would have thought that was possible

Let priests get married or partnered, whatever. Let priests legally satisfy their natural urges (except for child molestation) so they can focus on their ministry. The catholic celibacy for priests requirement is weird and we can see that many priests can't handle it.

Sinner? In the eyes of an oftentimes hypocritical religious system Father Mike is considered one. But for many of us Catholics who see that the archaic ways of the church no longer work in a modern and progressive society, Father Mike is considered merely human. Ms. Kotowski expresses the sentiments many of us feel. Should priests be allowed to enter into healthy relationships with women and still faithfully serve the church? I think so and feel it would make our church stronger and more cohesive. And yes, to some degree it would help rid the priesthood of the freaks we have come to loathe.

Father Manning may be a priest but he is also a human being. He could always convert to the Episcopal church, marry this woman and still do God's work.

What he's gone through? Why it happened? He wasn't kidnapped. he CHOSE TO HAVE AN AFFAIR!

Shameful. A temporary stepdown is not appropriate, he cannot have a positiion of authority again. There is forgiveness with repentance but he should not be allowed to serve in the same capacity again. Those who are called to a higher calling have a higher level of expectation even though we are all sinners.

He had relations with his cousin?

Jeez...what a shocker. A man wanting to sleep with a woman. Who would have thought.

At least it is a competent, adult female who, obviously, has made her own decisions.

Father Manning should consider another church, so he can serve God and function as a normal man as God intended.

This is what it's all about... Cult tendencies... Wow and they blame it on all the people from the south... Any church I was ever a part of had so much hanky panky going on in it you could write a porn novel on it... LOL... Loser...

Haha that's funny.

As an outsider (non-Catholic), this really seems like something the Catholic Church is doing to itself. It's not much of a concern to anyone else, and it's hard to even criticize him as a hypocrite. First, no kids involved. Second, she doesn't seem to be married (the article doesn't say). Third, he quit before he was caught. If he were a priest or minister in any other denomination, they would be happily married and he would be able to do his work - which apparently he's effective at. It's ironic he wrote a book called "Why do Catholics Leave the Church".

"The reality is that we love the church, we're committed to the church, but I'm hoping a dialogue will open up [about] obligatory celibacy, the whole question of celibacy," she told the Monterey Herald. "Is it right for all people?"
If celibacy isn't right for you, don't be a priest.
If Catholicism means so much to you, stop disgracing the church.
Stop abusing your position and step down.
The guy slept with his own cousin, he should be forced to resign.

Just to be clear...I believe in Jesus, but I would never trust a priest. When will people learn?

Two, mature, professional, consenting adults...get over it.

the bible never says that church leaders must be celibate. it is not mentioned anywhere that in order to be a pastor (or priest) you must not marry.

the only sin this priest is committing is the sin of adultery. which is in the bible. if he loves her, he can marry her and continue his ministry. the catholic church has created sins that the bible never mentions.

'Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.' - 1 Cor 7:1-2

Who cares what religious leaders do in their private lives so long as they are not using donations to fund it and are not harming others?

The extremist preacher in Florida who burned the Koran had the law on his side because we, thankfully, live in a free country but his actions were immoral. He had been warned and knew his actions would spark violence and hatred for America. He may stupidly claim he is promoting Christianity but who would want a part of his version?

Too many churches are just social clubs and ways to network for profit. They should go back to doing what they once did well: healing spirits, helping those who cannot help themselves, righting social wrongs such as our horrific incarceration systems.

Oh, the irony

No surprise here. Ewwwww his cousin though? This would'nt be that bad if it was some hooker and wasnt his cousin. Idiot.

I'd say there is no story here as he's human, doing what humans do.

Maybe it's time for man to mavbe beyond the need for religion to set unrealistic boundaries.

If priesthood is such an essential identity to this man, why not a priesthood (Episcopal) which at least recognizes the biological drives of the human male? It's as if that idea never occurred to this person.

According to an update, she is his cousin? That's quite different.

Never mind . . .


I, as a lifelong Catholic, have always felt that priests should be allowed to marry. I respect the decision which they have to make when becoming a priest. However, so many priests and nuns are highly educated both in the eclesiastic field and in the secular field that the Catholic church could benefit by the intelectual genes which their children would inherit. Also, many young men and women who have considered the clergy as a profession also want to mary so they leave the church and become ministers in other faiths.

If both are single adults, the church needs to get with the times and allow this man some privacy. I understand he made a commitment of celibacy but at least he's not molesting children as most priests do!

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