A popular priest who leads a worldwide TV ministry is taking a leave from his California diocesan duties after revealing an affair with a second cousin. Michael Manning 'fessed up after a local newspaper received a series of intimate notes between Manning and his former lover, a schools superintendent from Monterey County. Manning apparently broke off the relationship with Nancy Kotowski three years ago. "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, now 70, told the San Bernardino Sun.
"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 began his Catholic TV ministry 33 years ago. He appears weekly on The Word in the World on the Trinity Broadcast network. He has announced he's taking a leave from his post with the San Bernardino Diocese, but it's unclear if he'll continue on TV. Kotowski, 59, who called Manning her "soulmate," said she hoped the revelation would spark debate. "The reality is we love the church, but I'm hoping a dialogue will open up about the whole question of celibacy," she told the Monterey Herald.