Catholic bishop admits fathering teens, resigns

January 4, 2012

A Catholic bishop in the Los Angeles archdiocese has resigned after
admitting that he is the father of two children, both now teenagers. The
Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted the resignation
of Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, 60, who was born in Mexico and grew
up in Los Angeles.

Ordained in 1977 and named a bishop in 1994,
Zavala had a reputation for fighting on behalf of immigrants and the
poor and against the death penalty. Most recently, Zavala had overseen
the bishops' communications office and media outreach.

say his scandal could hamper the bishops' high-profile public campaign
against gay marriage and could affect efforts by the American bishops to
develop Hispanic leaders to minister to the burgeoning U.S. population
of Hispanic Catholics.

Hispanics account for most of the growth in
U.S. Catholicism, and within a generation they are projected to be the
majority ethnic group in the church. But out of nearly 300 active
bishops in the United States, just 26 are Hispanic. There are 13 retired
Latino bishops, including Zavala.

Neither the Vatican nor the
archdiocese provided an explanation for Zavala's resignation, saying
only that it had been accepted under the canon law requiring a bishop to
step down "because of illness or some other grave reason."

Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said in a letter released January 4 that
Zavala told him in early December that he is the father of two teenage
children, both still minors, who live with their mother in another

Assuming that the two children are 17 or younger, they
would have been born after Zavala had been appointed a bishop. Calling
the news "sad and difficult," Gomez said that Zavala has been out of
ministry and "living privately." He said 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."

Gomez did not identify the family out of respect for their privacy.  —RNS