Catholic TV Priest Confesses Years of Sexual Immorality with Cousin

Wordnet founder, cousin had sexual relationship
Mercury News

Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer


SAN BERNARDINO - A Roman Catholic priest with a worldwide television ministry based here has admitted to having a sexual relationship with his cousin, a county schools superintendent on California's Central Coast.

The Rev. Michael Manning confirmed by phone that he had the relationship with Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski, when questioned about copies of correspondence sent to this newspaper that appeared to point to the two breaking off the relationship more than two years ago. (There is a real possibility he was or feared he would be Blackmailed)

"We've been such good friends and there's a deep love we have for each other," Manning said. "The sexuality was secondary. It's very hard (To not have sex with them) 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."

Kotowski briefly reflected on her relationship with Manning that spanned decades.

"Father Mike Manning is a very dear and close friend of mine," Kotowski said when reached at an anti-gang conference in Washington, D.C. "Our friendship has grown over 30 years, and we share a deep commitment of faithful and dedicated life of service in our respective work. I have nothing more to publicly say about this personal and private matter."

Manning, 70, started the nonprofit Wordnet, a Catholic television ministry, in 1978. Wordnet's programs are filmed and edited in the ministry's downtown studio.

His TV show, "The Word in the World," can be seen weekly on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

He has appeared as a guest on several national TV shows, including "Larry King Live."

Manning, who at one time led St. Anthony Parish on Western Avenue, is a member of the Society of the Divine Word, a missionary community with 6,000 members in 62 countries.

In 2006, he was presented with a medal, the Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice Cross, which means "for the Church and the Holy Father."

Gerald Barnes, bishop of the Diocese of San Bernardino, requested the award for meritorious service from Pope Benedict XVI for Manning's decades of service in the Catholic Church.

Manning teaches at retreats and on religious tours around the world.

His ministry's website at is saturated with teaching materials for sale. Visitors to the website are invited to donate to the ministry, which the website says needs 800 donors giving about $25 a month to cover all expenses.

The website also offers a pamphlet written by Kotowski titled "Dealing With Teenagers."

The pamphlet, which costs $2 but is listed as out of stock, is marketed as coming from "Fr. Mike's own cousin, Nancy Kotowski."

Manning said that Kotowski, 59, is his second cousin.

Marriage between first cousins is legal in California, while 25 states prohibit them, according to a website for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Six states permit first-cousin marriage under certain circumstances, according to the website.

A biography posted at says Kotowski has 35 years of experience in education and holds several degrees, including a doctorate in education policy and organization from USC.

The biography says she was recognized by the Peace Corps as a Volunteer of the Year for her education development work in Cameroon, and that she sits on several boards, including the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.

Manning wouldn't say how long he and Kotowski were sexually involved.

The correspondence appears to reveal a conflicted priest struggling to remain faithful to his calling.

"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.

He told Kotowski that he battled hypocrisy, and deception was heavy on his heart as he feared people finding out about the relationship. (We note here that he did not battle or fear his breaking his vow of celibacy, he did not battle and fear committing serial fornication.  Another curious thing is in his statement below that he believed he had forgiveness from God for his sins in the bag [We have found a number of Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians holding the same crass attitude towards their committing blatant sin and God winking it by.  We might also add here that he seems to imply that somehow by his having stopping his years or decades of fornication and receiving his due forgiveness that his celibacy is now somehow back in the bottle)

"The burden of deception in hotels, and with the community with whom I work and live has become overwhelming," he wrote.

Manning said he and Kotowski realized their sexual relationship was wrong.

"I think we're all sinners and I'm not above admitting we're sinners, " Manning said in the phone interview. "The important factor is what do you do after you sin? Can you accept forgiveness? And I've been able to accept forgiveness for what I've done."  (Even though we do not agree with many of the tenants’ of Roman Catholicism it remains that this man made a lifetime vow of Celibacy before God and he broke that vow. The bible is very clear that God takes vows very seriously and He takes the breaking of one’s vows or promises very seriously also. So regardless whether one is a nominal Christian or a born again, washed in the blood, Spirit-filled, believer in Jesus Christ – the breaking of one’s vows and promises unto the Lord will be brought up, and one will be made to be accounted for these in the final judgment by Christ Himself)

(Next there is this priest’s act of serial fornication with his cousin.  In the word of God marriage is clearly defined as the sexually joining of a man and a woman, nothing more and nothing less.  In the beginning marriage occurred between Adam and the Woman when they sexually joined together -- period.  The next marriage we see in Genesis is the Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah where the bible records Isaac took Rebekah into his [Dead] mother’s tent and was comforted [Sexually comforted as the two became one flesh] The bible records that neither Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob were married by a Priest of God, Melchizedek was certainly available. The bible records that none of the three patriarchs had a wedding feast, they did not have a friend of the bridegroom, or virgins waiting outside of the wedding chamber.  All that existed in that day was the paying of the dowry – and thereafter the joining of the bride and the groom.

In the bible the marriage feast are first recorded in the book of Judges with Samson seeking the hand of a philistine woman. By the time of the prophets the wedding feast included the friend of the bridegroom, the virgins that sat outside of the wedding chamber to listen to the sexual cries of joy of the bride and the bridegroom and the emerging of the bridegroom to celebrate the feast.  This type of wedding feast begins with the sexual joining of the bride and the bridegroom is recorded over and over in the gospels and there is no passage in the epistles to indicate any change to this was made in the early church.

Paul also records concerning the sexual joining of a man and a woman in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 What God hath joined together let no man [Either parents or church leaders] put it asunder.  This is a restatement as it was defined in the beginning Marriage is the  sexual joining of a man and a woman, nothing more and nothing less.  Paul here makes no new commandment but reiterates what Christ declared about divorce when He said of marriage “It was no so in the beginning” – ie the joining of a man and a woman sexually.

Organized Church and Jewish wedding  a priest or Rabbi came much later, more than likely in the 6th century.  In conclusion Organized religious weddings sanctifying marriage before GOD are no where in the New Testament. Not during the days of Jesus Christ, and not during the days of the apostles.  There was no such tradition held by the early church, the wedding ceremony, its priestly sanctification and blessing of the marriage and all the other trappings are all about the pomp and ceremony of Churchianity.

We have gone through all this to categorically state that this priest Manning when he sexually joined with Kotowski – their marriage before God was consummated.

Further we wish you to understand concerning the woman’s hymen in the law of Moses, and it having to be intact at the time of the joining.  We find that the bed sheets were kept by the parents from the wedding night and were to be presented to the priest if the man later declared his wife had not been a virgin (This was an ironclad reason for divorce – unless the man decided that the woman pleased him and would take her in as her covering.

The importance of virginity and the unbroken hymen in marriage is that marriage is to be a blood covenant before God. Realize that in unrighteous divorce that the blood cries out as a witness against whoever forsakes the blood covenant of Marriage whether it is the man or the woman that breaks this blood vow and goes into adultery, or if the man and the woman agree to dissolve their marriage, with is a sin against the blood covenant before God.

John the Apostle states: These three remain [and are three witnesses before God] the blood, the fire, and the water.  The blood covenant or blood vow in marriage remains in the New Covenant. When this vow is broken the party or parties who break it will be held accountable for their sinful actions by Jesus Christ Himself in the final judgment. 

This man broke a vow of celibacy committing serial fornication with his cousin.  Then seeking to make right what can not be undone, he further sinned by not marrying / but divorcing by abandonment the woman who he had sexually joined himself with.

When I married my first wife she departed first from Jesus Christ she fell out of love with her husband, she came to utterly despise her husband, she departed him, and she divorced him.   Leaving her husband righteously free of her, and free to marry again if he so chose.

In the law of Moses if a woman was found to have a broken hymen at the time of marriage the husband could divorce her and get his dowry back.  However if the woman pleased him and he accepted her, he was under his care and her children by him for the rest of his life – though it was not a blood covenant, or a blood vow, their joining and becoming one flesh is yet a vow to love support and cherish this woman and her children by the husband.  God looks upon this and peers into the heart of such a man to see if he is and remains faithful to his duties with that woman as prescribed in the law of Moses.

Now we will speak to the epidemic of defilement by divorce in the church.  The fact is that when a man has sexual relations with a woman they become one flesh before God.  When a man or woman unrighteously departs their partner wife through unrighteous divorce [That is any divorce other than the unbelieving partner departing, the partner being found guilty of adultery or fornication – that includes a woman’s hymen being found broken at the time of joining or future infidelities]

All those that are unrighteously divorced have defiled themselves,  these spots on their garments can not be simply washed off, the blood of Jesus Christ does not was away blatant sin in the life of the believer – of this Christ spoke of MANY servants being cast out into outer darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, he spoke of a Number of servants receiving many stripes, some servants receiving few stripes, and Paul speaks of servants suffering loss as all their works burned up but retain their salvation.

One thing about the nature of sin is the sinner absolving themselves, or claiming absolution from God of said sin – without the cry and repentance of David, and their departing of blatant sin for the rest of their days.  Even with the months if not years of tearful repentance of David and God forgiving David his sins with Bathsheba, and her husband Uriah the Hittite,  David and his household paid for David’s sins for the rest of his days.  God said justice for your sins will be that the sword shall not depart your house and for David’s sin many of his sons committed the exact acts he did and perished in their sin and unrighteousness.

For those that are unrighteously divorced, whether they like it or not, whether their church recognizes the truth or not they are yet married before God to their former husband or wife.  They are bigamists or polygamists some of these people have 2, 3, 4, and 5 husbands or wives.  Each person that was unrighteously dumped can marry of this Paul declares their marriage to another shall be charged as sin against the one that unrighteously divorced the other more than likely every time they join together in sex. 

We have faced a question years ago with a woman that had divorced her unsaved husband as the strain on her walk became too much (As alluded by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7) So she divorced him and then remarried a Christian man.  The question was should I divorce my husband, and then return to my former husband.

Some have spoken of another form of this very question where the unsaved husband or wife that they divorced had since remarried so what should they do.

In our observations many preachers and teachers are very troubled in dealing with these kind of issues.  Once the husband or wife that were unrighteously divorced by the believer his or her acts shall be accounted against the believer that unrighteously divorced them in the first place.  Further if this believer like the Catholic priest o this article would “Come into repentance” and depart their current wife or husband – this would only compound their sin and would not be accepted by God as any point of repentance.  All that we can advise here is that this husband or wife become the greatest husband or wife as by the words and commandments of Jesus Christ and the Apostles.  Read our articles on this subject in our sex and family section to clearly see what they are called to.

Realizing that you are still married to your former husband or wife that you unrighteously divorced is the hardest of all situations for the believer to make right before God.  If you divorce your current husband or wife to return to one of your former husbands or wives God will account this unrighteous divorce against you regardless of you fleshly reasoning that you are repenting or seeking to right a wrong.  God will not accept nor honor your intentions here.  The first fact that you need to understand in heart soul mind and spirit is that you have broken once or even more than once the blood covenant or blood vows before God.  And if we dare speak the truth, As you have broken this blood covenant before God with your mate, so Jesus Christ shall break His blood covenant with you, divorcing you as part of His bride.

For God says I will show myself froward to a froward man. Jesus citing this passage says that which a man sows that also shall he reap.

The only righteous thing to do here is live in your shame, before your new husband and household and before your church.  You are a bigamist or a polygamist. You are commanded to see to your former wife’s and your children’s needs which is far greater than alimony and child support.

Again we must appeal to the law of Moses of which Jesus Declared that the first and great commandment and the second which we are to unflinchingly to obey and incorporate in all of our daily actions.

The husband is to see to this woman’s financial needs, their food needs, their shelter needs and even their sexual needs.  –We make no apologies for what the word of God clearly teaches. 

In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul discusses another subject that has been hidden before the eyes of bible believing Christians.  That is a husband not doing well with his current wife, and seeks to have a second or third wife.  Of which Paul declares that this shall bring great trouble.

Further in the New Testament Paul speaks of Masters and Slaves, these slaves common to modern idealist thinking were not all male slaves for heavy labor, but there were female slaves. The word slaves here is a neutral word so that it can be male or female.  Further within this number of slaves there were also concubines.  In one of Jesus Parables when translated properly speaks of a man in bed with his concubine and his neighbor comes and knocks on this door.  They are having sexual relations but Jesus Declares if you keep on knocking he will eventually stop even the most intimate of acts and answer the door and give you all you want so he can get back to his concubine.  – No doubt the disciples and others laughed hardily at Christ’s words here.

Further in the book of acts there is a person named festus that was given to the local roman ruler festus in greek means a concubine.

The Jews continued with polygamy all the way to the 6th century where a writer records that in spain there was a shortage of Jewish women so in order that everyone have a wife polygamy was suspended. In other places the practice continued many centuries longer.   It is reported that to this day in Israel and other places that there are Hasidic Jews that still are polygamous as this is taught and repeated spoken of in the Old Testament.

Of what we know of the Apostles none of them were polygamous.   Of the requirement of one to be a pastor or elder we see it is written that they should be the husband of one wife, this has purposely been mistranslated so as to say that if a man marries and his wife dies and he marries again he can not be a pastor or elder,  What the passage is actually saying is that those that desire to be in the ministry are not to be polygamous or to have concubines.  This does not mean that by casting off their excess baggage they can then pastor teach or be an elder, as that would be breaking ones blood covenant or blood oath with Jesus Christ.

 God’s plan in the beginning was one man and one wife.  Of this we have no doubt.  However when the 3,000 and the 5,000 souls came into the church there were many different kinds of fish in the net, some rich – of which some were severely judged, some were poor, infirm, widows and the elderly all of which are spoken of in the Acts and the epistles, some were married to unbelievers and wanted out and to marry a believer, there were slaves male and female with them were concubines, and finally there were those that were married to more than one wife, which Paul says it can be done to prevent immorality, to prevent either the husband or the wife from falling into fornication and adultery, but paul warns in so doing one will bring great trouble upon their household.

We are in that great trouble with the unrighteous divorce epidemic in the church.  It is definitely worse than a man having two or three wives that fight and are angry at him and each other.  Here you have left 1, 2, 3 or more broken households which God requires of you to make whole.  The answer would make any household a dwelling of stinging hornets, that would be that all of a man’s former wives and all their children would come under one roof.  This would be so explosive in nature as the wives dropped were disliked for any number of reasons and harbor anger and bitterness toward their former husband and would hate to live with your other wives knowing that among other duties you need to sate their sexual needs as well.

In our observations many of these broken homes are among the poor who can not afford alimony, child support, so that it is not like a poor husband or wife could afford to run 2 or more households as required in the word of God in this case the husband would be required to visit and spend time with each wife in each household regularly,  and if their current mate flips out about this and divorces them for entangling them in this mess you must then return to their remaining mate or mates and spend more time accordingly.

To do things to cause your husband or wife to leave you is utter sin against the Lord Himself.  We have known of a number of Christians that engineered their divorces with their unsaved or unspiritual mates, seeking to get their hooks into a newer Christian model.

We know of a man in the Summerville South Carolina area who was a Mormon, on of the members of our salves team pitch the man and his wife for a set of encyclopedias, the man was so impressed with the set, he revealed he was married if memory serves to 7 wives that he had scattered around town living  all in different locations, he explained that the way things were done is he rotated from house to house during the week, so the man bought seven sets of encyclopedias and the salesman had to be shuttled from house to house to fill out the paperwork for each household.   

to honor your former husband or former wife, if your new Christian husband


Manning said he is convinced of the importance and beauty of celibacy and that he told key staff at Wordnet about the matter.

Going forward with the ministry is "probably going to be very awkward," he said, and he is considering taking a break.

John Andrews, spokesman for the diocese, said Manning is a pioneer in Catholic television and that the diocese supports him as he moves forward.

"It's unfortunate that this has happened, and that is not the conduct that we expect from the priests and it's not consistent with the vows a priest takes," Andrews said. "At the same time, in our faith, you always have an opportunity to seek forgiveness from God and reconciliation. Father Manning has done that and we support him in that 100 percent."

Manning said that before being questioned about the correspondence, he discussed the matter with his confessor only.

He said he will ask his supporters for their understanding and their prayers.

"That's the neat thing with Jesus. There can be the chance of starting again," Manning said.

Monterey County Herald Staff Writer Claudia Melendez Salinas contributed to this report.