A Catholic bishop serving in Los Angeles has resigned after admitting that he fathered two children over a decade ago, the L.A. archdiocese announced today.
Bishop Gabino Zavala submitted his resignation letter to Pope Benedict XVI and has since stopped serving as the head of the archdiocese, according to spokesman Tod Tamberg. The Los Angeles archdiocese is the largest in the country, Tamberg noted.
The diocese's archbishop, Jose Gomez, sent out a letter to parishes and schools today explaining the resignation, calling the situation "sad and difficult."
Tamberg said the bishop, who served as an auxilary bishop in the San Gabriel region, announced in early December that he is the father of two teenage children who live with their mother in another state and had already submitted his resignation to the pope. There was no discussion about the circumstances ahead of time and the diocese did not know why Zavala decided to come forward with the information at this time, Tamberg said.
The archdiocese waited until the Vatican had announced Zavala's resignation, after the Christmas holiday, to make their own announcement to parishioners.
The diocese would not comment on who the family is, but said that they have reached out to offer spiritual and financial assistance to the children.
Zavala will go on to lead a private life, though he will remain an ordained priest and a bishop, Tamberg said.
Zavala was a prominent bishop in the church, presiding over the U.S. arm of Pax Christi, the church's international peace movement.
Prior to becoming a bishop in 1994, he had served at churches in the Los Angeles area since his 1977 ordination. He was not able to be reached for comment.
The Catholic church enforces a vow of celibacy on its clergy.