January 5th, 2012
02:13 PM ET

Bishop admits having children, resigns

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A Los Angeles Catholic bishop has resigned from the church after admitting he is the father of two teenage children, leaders said.

Bishop Gabino Zavala told Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez in early December about the children, and the pope accepted his resignation Wednesday.

The mother and the two children live outside of California, Gomez said in a letter in which he described the situation as "sad and difficult."

Zavala had not been in the ministry since he shared his secret, and will be living privately, Gomez said.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese has reached out to the mother to provide spiritual care and funding to help with the children's college costs, the letter said.

Zavala is a native of Guerrero, Mexico, and grew up in Los Angeles, according to the archdiocese website. He became a priest in 1977 and worked in East Los Angeles. Since 1994, he had been the auxiliary bishop for the San Gabriel Region.

He was also president of Pax Christi USA, a Catholic organization that advocates for peace, for the past nine years.

"Bishop Zavala consistently brought the power of the gospel to bear on issues like immigration, worker rights, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and nuclear disarmament," Pax Christi USA said in a statement on its website.

"During this time of personal hardship, we offer our prayers for Bishop Zavala, his family, and all those affected by this news," the statement added.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: California • Catholic Church

soundoff (426 Responses)

    Even the pope should have (and has the right ) his own wife and children.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  2. gin2wine

    He did the right thing. He resigned. I will not condemn this man. He knew what he had to do and he did it, because he knew that to continue would not the be truth. Let us pray for his entire family, that God will grant them peace and long-awaited happiness. Can yu imagine the weight lifted from his shoulders, knowing that he can publicly own his daughters. Let us not condemn this man because it could have been one of us, but for the grace of God. Maybe we would not transgress as he did, but we could do something equally sinful. Who are we? All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

    February 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  3. Bloodofaslave

    I understand why the Catholics thinks that the priest and Bishops should not marry, but to make it a requirement is actually foolish. any man that doesn't want to be with a woman is an automatic red flag. it becomes a safe haven for molesters. besides Christ said he that could do let let him. not it is required of him. so many people have such a backwards way of thinking these days. I don't want to come across as if I'm bashing the Catholics, because I'm not. we worship the same GOD, the only difference is that I don't believe in covering up your dirt. it actually hurts more then it helps. when you have to lie to seem pure you actually push people away, we you confront all the issues that present itself then that's when people see your purity. hidden Sin separate's for GOD and kills relationships and prevents people from coming to GOD. I pray that one day they can finally get it together.

    January 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  4. DoNotWorry

    Requiring celibacy of priests is sick. All ministers should be allowed to marry. Ditto nuns.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  5. Emmanuel

    I really do respect the catholic church and their teachings just like any other religions. But why are there so many of them molesting young boys??? Something is wrong and someone needs to say it. Why I don't hear these things from other churches??

    January 31, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  6. Samwise

    S ex is natural. This is crazy. Condemning someone that has actually given back to the community, all because he has children? Crazy.

    January 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  7. Lisa Sciolle

    I often thought a priest should be allow to marry but once the marriage fails (hope not) they must seek other
    ways to live but no longer as a priest, even the fault is not his, otherwise, divorce enters the picture and that is a real troubling issue then. He would have to be especially careful (if that is possible at all) in his selection.
    No replies please. This is just an opinion.

    January 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  8. DM

    Clergy should be allowed to marry and lead by example.
    I remember Father Benomi being sent away when they found out about his children and Father Stevens used to use limos and "date" women. I saw him a few times and he always just put his finger to his lips and did a sssshhh.
    Not a great way for a kid to learn about morals and following rules.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  9. John

    such an unbiblical rule in the first place that "ministers/preachers" of the gospel can't be married. The apostle Peter had a mother-in-law. Jesus had a natural mom and dad.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • AGuest9

      As well as perhaps a wife, who may or may not have been Mary Madelene.

      January 27, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Debbie

      Let priests marry! In that way, the Catholic Church can attract more candidates for the priesthood. I am married to a Lutheran minister, and being married just increases his ability to help others.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:40 am |
  10. ARthur

    Priest should be free from worldly temptations and that is why they should not marry. They should also not be driving mercedes and have huge mansions!

    January 26, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • fk

      Who says, the pope??? Certainly not the bible. A church rule that goes against the bible has never worked and never will...

      January 26, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  11. YeahISaidItSoWhat?

    Inglash nott yur frend, you really need to get a life...

    What do you do all day? Trolling the blogs on a search for misspelled words or incorrect pronunciation or verbiage to correct? What a dolt!

    January 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  12. TrueReality

    This is why clerical celibacy is a bad idea... And also something the Roman church only began imposing on its priests since around 1000 to 1100 – not exactly an ancient tradition. Let priests marry, and you'll have a lot more straight priests.

    January 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Guest

      The orthodox church (aka the east part of the east-west schism of 1054) has never forced priests to be celibate, allowing them to marry and have children. My priest has a wife and three kids, and is the son of a priest himself. Marriage is not bad, and priests should be allowed to be married too.

      January 27, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • inclusion

      Guest, priests should also be allowed to have husbands too. The idea that only penis-bearing people can be priests is as stupid as the notion that priests must be celebate. Better yet, abolish priesthood alltogether and let each congregant enjoy a direct relationship with god.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  13. wanda

    Would much rather this than him molesting kids. priests are human too.

    January 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  14. ALBERT

    Albert Einstein: God is a Product of Human Weakness
    The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.

    if this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?

    January 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Mark

      You seem to be confusing omnipotence with fate...

      February 3, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  15. Tare

    Just Catholic priests being Catholic priests. Put him in a cell with his child abusing brethren.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • SocialistZero

      Your an Idiot. I'd rather have priests/bishops having children with women then molesting children.

      January 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Inglash nott yur frend

      It's spelled "You're." "Idiot" is only capitalized at the beginning of a sentence or in a title. It's "than," not "then."

      January 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • YeahISaidItSoWhat?

      Inglash nott yur frend, you really need to get a life...

      What do you do all day? Trolling the blogs on a search for misspelled words or incorrect pronunciation or verbiage to correct? What a dolt!

      January 25, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  16. Why

    Why is the church trying to pay for the college education of those children?

    January 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Leah

      Perhaps it's hush money? Perhaps they feel they have kept a parent from being part of his children's lives, contributing in various ways over the years...and the household has surely suffered for that...? It's hard to say without more information, CNN!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • fk

      because the church made that stupid unachievable godless rule. It's nothing but an ideaology.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • why pay

      Why: because deadbeat dadism is NOT an image the Catholic church can afford to portray. If thou makest a mess, thou shalt clean it up!

      January 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  17. NoDoubt

    I understand rules are rules, but priests SHOULD be allowed to marry. There is no good reason why they shouldn't. If you are going to counsel your flock, you should have some experience with what they go through. Its too easy to PREACH and not practice.

    January 14, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Mona Sue

      I think they should have to get married...we all ought to suffer alike!!

      January 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Pre-Cana is such a joke! Some old priest is going to give a class on married life. LOL!

      January 27, 2012 at 1:03 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.