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)
  1. jen

    i have to chuckle at some of you vigorously demading proof of God's existance. Christ Himself could descend from Heaven and sit next to you and you'd claim He was a hologram. proof is not what you want at all....the most convincing words and evidence would not sway you, as you're merely looking to make believers out to be fools, most especially when they're correct and you know it. i'm sorry that you've led such awful lives that you need to spew hate across anonymous message boards for fun....if the only news you hear about Christians is the negative bile constantly spread about CNN, understand that your vantage point is skewed, and work to correct it. there are many who claim to believe that knowingly commit horrible sins against God and man, but by the same token there are many that don't....i suggest you get to know one of the latter!

    January 6, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Doctor Realism

      I suggest you read your bible! You clearly have no idea what you're talking about!

      : D

      Or you could just continue living in blissful ignorance.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Inconvenient George

      If Jeebus came and sat next to me, I would call 911, and find out what caused the psychotic break.

      January 6, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  2. HeavenSent

    Ho my God!

    I support abortion and a woman's right to choose to use abortion as a sweet form of birth control on a regular basis. I support gay marriage.

    god does not exist. There is no proof that one does, and until the day comes when the giant Space Cop in the sky cartwheels down from the heavens like Chris Farley naked, then I'm not going to waste my time believing in that stupidity.

    If people want to kill puppies, that's their choice.


    10. 2 Kings 2:23-24
    Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

    9. Mark 14:51-52
    And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.

    8. Deuteronomy 23:1
    He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

    7. Genesis 38:8-10
    Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also.

    2. Judges 3:21-22
    And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out.


    January 6, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Nah

      1/10. Troll harder.

      Try to be more subtle next time.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  3. sonomamama

    Priests choose their path, for whatever reason, and celibacy is part of the deal. They know that going in. And they take a vow to remain celebate. Not my cup of tea, but it seems to be for them. Priests who live this kind of double life aren't fit for the priesthood. He did the right thing by resigning. Now he'll go hide somewhere, or take up robes in another country, and the Church will pay his penance. What a pathetic tale.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  4. gimmeabreak

    I don't get it. What's the 'personal hardship' part??? And why is the church paying for the education of HIS kids? They can't find any poor members of his church who can't afford to send their kids to college? The Catholic church is the biggest bunch of crooks and hypocrites around starting with the pope....

    January 6, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  5. Dan M.

    Just goes to show you, you can be a good and effective priest AND have kids. The shame here is the church's not the father's.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Veritas

      We Episcopalians have allowed our priests and bishops to marry for the nearly 500 years, and we've done just fine.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Cameron

      Seriously, what part of this article states that he was being a father. He "fathered" 2 children, but he was not their father. The priests are called to celibacy for the benefit of the people they minister to. It is a great sacrifice and blessing for them to be able to be father to the christian community they serve. So you are absolutely wrong. He was not being a good and effective priest; rather, he was being a selfish and dishonest man. The shame is his and his alone!

      Celibacy is a great gift in the Church. Just because the vast majority of people do not understand it or appreciate it, does not mean the men who are called to it are any less masculine. Unfortunately, men have given it a bad name by their actions and for that there is great shame in the Church, but celibacy remains a great blessing and benefit for the people of God and those called to live it.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Cameron

      Episcopalians are not doing just fine. Heck the Catholic Church just had to establish a new "Anglican Rite" for all of the Episcopalians seeking to leave and enter the Catholic Church.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  6. mikey

    Wow, so if they find out you're not actually a pedophile they kick you out. Well at least they're consistent.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  7. komododr

    You're a hero to your children Mr. Zavala. It may have taken a long time but in the end you're conscience prevail. The catholic church is fraught with either straight priests or pedophile priests. I think in my lifetime I will see the church allowing priest to mary.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  8. The Central Scutinizer

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    The wonder of God
    Is revealed in the discourse of prayer
    Prayer is the life blood
    of the repentant sinner
    Prayer really changes things

    The Central Scutinizer

    I know that “Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things“ never replies to anyone (rude) but none the less, I am compelled from boredom to ask a few questions. If it suits you praybie, please reply. First, are you pulling our legs? I think you are just a troll. But IF you are not then answer these questions regarding your rather unorthodox handle and posts (if you don’t reply, I will assume you are in fact just a troll):

    1. When you say that Atheism in not healthy for children AND other living things, does that mean that children must be present for Atheism to be unhealthy? If there are no children, is Atheism healthy for other living things? Also, is this a mental or physical health issue you are concerned about, and where did you find this information? I assume then that all creatures on all worlds, if they exist, are also adversely affected by Atheism, correct? Even if per chance they worship some other God besides the one you may or may not be referring to. You never actually state that religion is healthy, just prayer. Therefore, can you kindly explain what God is requiring this prayer so that we can all direct our prayers to the correct God?

    2. Prayer changes things

    Ok. The obvious question is what things does it change. Does it change things for the better or for the worse? Are you leading us down a blind alley here? Knowing what things it changes would be useful for those of us not familiar with the inherent value of prayer.

    3. The wonder of God is revealed in the discourse of prayer.

    Ok. By discourse are you claiming that we should all being have a conversation with God? Does God talk to you? If it is so easy, why doesn’t he just have town hall meetings and tell us what he wants, or ask us what we want. Or give us his email address. I prefer texting and email. When you say the “wonder” of god, do you mean you can see him, or feel him or what? I don’t get it. Did he touch you inappropriately? Tell the police, don’t let it go.

    4. Prayer is the life blood of the repentant sinner

    Are you a vampire? I knew there was some dark lord s.h.i.t going on here. Isn’t blood the life blood? How does one convert prayer to blood and then how does that circulate in our bodies exactly? Or do the prayers actual live in our circulatory systems? Now that would be weird. Please let us all know. What if we are not sinners? If I am a sinner and repent, why do I have to keep praying? What is the point of repenting and then having to keep doing the whole friggin’ thing all over again day in and day out?

    5. Prayer really changes things

    When you add “really” to the sentence, does that mean that you weren’t as sure earlier but now you feel more confident in prayer? Did it not “really” change things in your first line? Are you just teasing us? Prayer might just change things…..ok just kidding, it REALLY changes things, just playing around a little, my bad.

    Can’t wait to hear what you have to say on this.

    Oh one last thing, when you say to pray ceaselessly in 2012 umm….are you serious about that? When I am sleeping? When I am fuk'n, when am working… I mean I have to constantly pray? How can I keep my job? Please clarify, this just seems dam unreasonable to me.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • dalis

      OK, I'm not the one you're writing too, but I was raised Catholic.

      I would say SKEPTICISM is healthy for all living things, but Atheism becomes unhealthy when the atheist is as dogmatic as the religious zealots. There are some things you may have a good idea about, but you can't KNOW.

      Prayer doesn't change the world. Prayer changes YOU, and YOU change the world. Prayer, done correctly, is not magical thinking. It's meditation, plain and simple. It's supposed to keep your mind focused on good intentions. It was St. Francis of Assisi who is attributed with saying, "Pay without ceasing, and if necessary, use words." This doesn't mean pray out loud on your knees 24/7. It means live your life in such a way that when it's done, it will comprise a great prayer and give glory to God. Make your life count.

      p.s. Life blood is a metaphor, dude.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • dalis

      That's *pray without ceasing. 😛

      January 6, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  9. Bakulaw

    I was told that the Catholic Church doesn't mean it this way when it vigorously campaigns for pro-life.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  10. lance corporal

    wow a catholic priest thats NOT a perv, just a normal guy with a couple kids.........yeah he needs to go, wrong place for him

    January 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • dalis

      No, man, he didn't support those kids for years. If he's a normal man, it's because he's one more deadbeat dad.

      January 5, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • RusTnuts

      I guess a catholic bishop having children is better than a catholic bishop "having" children...if you know what I mean.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  11. Bob

    Why the *bleeeeeep* would the church be paying for his lil bit on the side?? Thats just bizarre.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  12. pkfops

    Too bad.

    At least he wasn't porking little boys.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  13. Reality

    The RCC should shut its doors considering its flawed priests, history and theology. And contributions keeping this dinosaur afloat could be used to keep our government and most of the governments in Europe in good order. Ditto for all other churches, mosques and temples around the globe.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  14. peggy

    So what's the big deal? Why did he have to resign? Is it because he told the truth?

    January 5, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  15. Doug

    so sad when someone gets punished for being human..

    January 5, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  16. AK

    Now the father become real father!

    January 5, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  17. mak123

    Wait those in the church cant have families? huh?

    January 5, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • dalis

      Roman Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy.

      January 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  18. Cobra-212

    "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." ...so let me get this right, the Catholic Church collects money from the people and then uses that money to support the family of a ex-Bishop who violated his vows to the church. This isn't the church's problem, but a personal issue of this jerk of a Bishop. Will the people who call themselves Catholics ever see through this religious ponzi scheme of giving money to "save their souls" when the very people who preach this seem to not fear violating both moral and actual law. I guess under their system they can do anything they want and as long as they repent their God will forgive them and they will end up in heaven along with all the good people of the world. What a farce!

    January 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • YBP

      You're just catching on? The farce has been going on for two thousand years.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Fairplay99

      Go bark up a different tree. Are you even a Catholic?

      January 6, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  19. Michael


    January 5, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • moonster

      One is human before anything else – guess what he fell as I am sure you have many times.

      January 6, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  20. McJesus

    Hey, a step forward at least! Having kids of his own is FAR better than having someone else's kids. Yeah. Uhum.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
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About this blog

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.