Top Catholic bishop Gabino Zavala resigns; fathered 2 now teenage children

(David McNew/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala is shown at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, in this March 31, 2005 file photo.

Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of one of the top Catholic bishops in the L.A. Archdiocese after Bishop Gabino Zavala confessed last month to fathering two teenage children.

A statement from Bishop Jose Gomez, head of the L.A. Archdiocese, said the children live with their mother in another state.

In an open letter to Catholics in the archdiocese, Gomez said that Zavala had admitted in early December to fathering two children during his time in the priesthood.

"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 letter stated. "The family’s identity is not known to the public, and I wish to respect their right to privacy.

Zavala has been a priest for nearly 35 years. John Allen with the National Catholic Reporter told KPCC's Madeleine Brand that Zavala will retain the title of bishop, but cannot continue to perform as a priest.

"He won’t be celebrating Mass. He won’t be hearing confessions. He won’t be doing confirmations," Allen explained. "So what this means is he’s going to be off the public stage. Where he’s going to land, that is, where he’s going to be living from here on in, we don’t yet know."

Allen said Zavala was among the more liberal voices within the Catholic Church in the US. Last month, he was among 33 Catholic bishops that signed a pastoral letter in support of immigrants. Zavala also served on the prison ministry committee for the Catholic bishops in California.

With contributions by Paige Osburn

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