Monday, April 11, 2011

A Longtime Love

In California, a long-term relationship has stirred controversy. Nancy Kotowski and Mike Manning are both mature adults. But Nancy is the Monterey County superintendent of schools, and Mike is a Catholic priest who has been prominent in religious media. Catholic priests are supposed to be celibate. But the relationship has also been criticized because Nancy and Mike are second cousins. I don’t think there’s a state in the US that bans “monogamous” marriage between (heterosexual) second cousins, yet some people are so prejudiced against consanguinamory that they attack the relationship on that basis.

Kotowski, 59, said she ended about three years ago the "physical aspect" of a 30-year relationship with the Rev. Mike Manning, a Catholic priest in San Bernardino who is also her second cousin.

Their relationship became publicly known Wednesday after The Sun and The Herald published excerpts of emails between the two.

I’m not sure why the emails were newsworthy in the first place. He is 70, by the way.

Kotowski said the emails correspond to a period when it was time to decide whether Manning would leave the priesthood so they could get married or go their separate ways.

"We're soul mates, and in any human relationship, especially one of over 30 years, you reach a decision-making point, and our relationship reached that point," Kotowski said.

Kotowski balks at media descriptions of her relationship with Manning as an "affair" as it was almost a life-long commitment.

"It's a 30-year-old relationship of love for one another. That's what it was," she said.

They should be applauded for their longevity.

Both families know of their relationship and have even welcomed them in family gatherings, she said.

"My family knows him and loves Father Mike. My family knows of our closeness and our relationship, and they're very happy we have each other on our life journey. They know we're kindred spirits and soul mates."

Manning’s issue with his church is between him and the church. It is a pain that many people know, trying to live by the requirements of a church but having a love that is not accepted. The finger-waggers looking on shouldn’t condemn what would have been a spousal relationship if it weren’t for the conflict with Manning’s employer.
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