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Local TV Priest Admits Affair With Second Cousin, Leaves Ministry, Says God Forgives Him

Manning (left), Kotowksi (Photos via Worldnet,
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A San Bernardino-based Roman Catholic priest and television host has admitted he was involved in a sexual relationship with his second cousin, and has taken a leave of absence from the ministry, according to the San Bernardino Sun. Reverend Michael Manning, 70, confirmed the intimate relationship he had with Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski after the newspaper "received intimate correspondences allegedly exchanged between Manning and Kotowski," reports KTLA.Manning's affair with Kotowski violates the clergyman's vow of celibacy. His leave of absence was confirmed by the Diocese of San Bernardino on Wednesday. He will also be stepping aside from his involvement with Worldnet, a Catholic television ministry that broadcasts globally from its San Bernardino base; Manning hosts a show called "The Word in the World." Manning's leave is supported by officials in the Diocese.

The LA Times provides details about Kotowski's connection to Manning:

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 asserts that he and Kotowski are no longer involved sexually.In letters to Kotowski, Manning acknowledged the struggle of his relationship with her. The Sun published excerpts of their 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."

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Manning has been hailed as a pioneer in contemporary ministry. He founded Worldnet in 1978, and recently "developed sermon applications for smart phones," notes the Times.

Adds the Sun: "[Manning] said he has sought and received forgiveness from God."