News from LOS ANGELES, California.The resignation of a Los Angeles bishop who fathered two children has shocked the nation's most populous Roman Catholic archdiocese, where Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala grew up. Zavala was an outspoken supporter of causes dear to the huge Hispanic population.
Zavala, 60, once urged Catholic media to report scandals such as clergy sex abuse "in a spirit of love and mercy," had his resignation accepted Wednesday by Pope Benedict XVI. Roman Catholic canon law permits bishops to step down earlier than the normal retirement age of 75 if they are sick or otherwise unfit for office.unexpected, sad and disorienting news for many people who know and like Bishop Zavala," archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg said. "Remember, he was raised here. He has deep roots in Los Angeles and so he's very well-known here."
Tamberg said he knew nothing about Zavala's affair except that it involved consenting adults and that no church funds were used.
Zavala was one of five auxiliary bishops in the archdiocese and was the primary pastoral and liturgical administrator for 66 churches in the San Gabriel region east of Los Angeles, Tamberg said. Archbishop Jose Gomez has selected someone to handle those duties until the Vatican can appoint a replacement.
Zavala informed the archbishop last month that he had fathered two children who live with their mother in another state, Gomez said in a letter to the archdiocese's approximately five million Catholics. The archbishop said Zavala told him that he had submitted his resignation to the pope.
"Since that time, he has not been in ministry and will be living privately," the archbishop said in the letter, which was posted on a Catholic blog.
Tamberg did not know the children's ages or gender but revealed that they are not twins, indicating Zavala and the woman had more than a passing relationship.
"The archdiocese has reached out to the mother and children to provide spiritual care as well as funding to assist the children with college costs. The family's identity is not known to the public, and I wish to respect their right to privacy," the archbishop wrote.
Roman Catholic priests are required to be celibate, though Eastern rite priests can be married and married Anglican priests who convert can become Catholic priests.
Zavala was born in Guerrero, Mexico, but grew up in Los Angeles. He was ordained in 1977 and was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a church in the heavily Mexican-American East Los Angeles area. He was appointed an auxiliary bishop in 1994.
In a June 2010 speech to the Catholic Media Association, Zavala spoke about the duty of Catholic media to "report the truth, because the truth does set us free," but with mercy and concern for individuals.
The Sundance Wives say in another case, of religious sexual abuse, "The Truth has set us free, but with scars that are forever forged, not only from the religious sexual abuse incidents, but from the cover-up. The Priest's Abortion."