Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles, California, has resigned after disclosing that he is the father of two children. In a terse statement, the Vatican announced on January 4 the resignation while citing canon law on resignation for illness or other serious reasons. Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said in a statement that this is "sad and difficult" news for Catholics.
According to the statement, Bishop Zavala informed him in early December 2011 that he was the father of two minor teenage children who live with their mother elsewhere in the U.S. Bishop Zavala had submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI and has not been in ministry since then. He will now be living privately. Archbishop Gomez gave Catholic reassurances, declaring "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." He asked for prayers for all involved.
Zavala has also served as the bishop-president of Pax Christi USA, the national arm of the sometimes controversial international peace group, since 2003. He is also well-known for his defense of worker's rights.
According to the Los Angeles archdiocesan website, Bishop Gabino Zavala is a native of Guerrero, Mexico, and grew up in Los Angeles where he attended St. John’s Seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1977 by Cardinal Timothy Manning and was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, in East Los Angeles. After graduating from Catholic University of America with a degree in Canon Law, he worked in the diocesan tribunal and was named rector of St. John’s Seminary in 1992. Two years later, Cardinal Roger Mahony ordained him as Auxiliary Bishop for the San Gabriel Region.
Here follows Archbishop Gomez' statement:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
I have some sad and difficult information to share with you. Bishop Gabino Zavala, auxiliary bishop for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, informed me in early December that he is the father of two minor teenage children, who live with their mother in another state.
Bishop Zavala also told me that he submitted his resignation to the Holy Father in Rome, which was accepted. Since that time, he has not been in ministry and will be living privately.
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.
Let us pray for all those impacted by this situation and for each other as we reflect on this letter.
May the Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, grant you peace.
Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles