This story from my friend Howard Blume at the Los Angeles Times is a real doozy:
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.
The kicker, which comes in the next paragraph, is that Manning’s affair was with his second cousin. Of course, this being the Catholic Church, the “affair” could have been much worse ...
I cut my teeth creating a religion beat at The Sun in San Bernardino, but I don’t recall Manning’s name. I do, however, remember a diocesan official once telling me that if their priests screwed up, they’d prefer that it was with an adult woman. Can’t argue with that logic. But this mistake doesn’t quite fit because, you know, it was with his cousin.