Catholic Bishop Admits Fathering Two Children
It's correct to refer to bishops and priests as "Father", in the churchly sense. But in the case of Bishop Gabino Zavala, he really was a father, in the parental sense.
"Father" Zavala has resigned his position as Auxiliary Bishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, after revealing that he is the biological father of two children.
As one of five auxiliary bishops in the nation's most populous Roman Catholic archdiocese, 60 year old Gabino Zavala once urged Catholic media to report clergy sex abuse scandals "in a spirit of love and mercy."
Ironically, Zavala is now caught up in a sex scandal of his own making. He informed his archbishop last month that, as a priest, he has fathered two children who live with their mother in another state. He submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI, and a spokesman says it was accepted with great sadness.
A spokesman for the archdiocese says he knows nothing about Zavala's affair except that it was between consenting adults and no church funds were used.
As one of five auxiliary bishops, Zavala was the primary pastoral and liturgical administrator for 66 churches in the San Gabriel region east of Los Angeles. Archbishop Jose Gomez has selected someone to handle those duties on an interim basis until the Vatican can appoint a replacement.
In a written statement, the archbishop says "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."
Because the church believes priestly ordination is "forever", Zavala is still a "priest." Once a priest - always a priest. He can't be "defrocked", but he can be removed, and he will never be allowed to serve as a minister again.
Roman Catholic priests are required to be celibate, which means unmarried, but the church does ordain some divorced men and married Anglican and Episcopal priests who convert to Catholicism.
In fact, Pope Benedict XVI has established a U.S. diocese for Anglicans and Episcopalians who wish to become Catholics, and he has named a married former Episcopal bishop from Texas to lead it.