LOS ANGELES - The resignation of a Los Angeles bishop who fathered two children has shocked the nation’s most populous Roman Catholic archdiocese, where Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala grew up and was an outspoken supporter of causes dear to the huge Hispanic population.
Zavala, 60, who once urged Catholic media to report scandals such as clergy sex abuse “in a spirit of love and mercy,’’ had his resignation accepted by Pope Benedict XVI yesterday. A code of Roman Catholic canon law permits bishops to step down earlier than the normal retirement age of 75 if they are sick or otherwise unfit for office.
“This is unexpected, sad, and disorienting news for many people who know and like Bishop Zavala,’’ archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg said yesterday. “Remember, he was raised here.’’
Tamberg said he had virtually no details about Zavala’s affair except that it involved consenting adults and that no church funds were used.
A message left at a Hacienda Heights telephone number for a Gabino Zavala was not immediately returned yesterday.
Zavala was one of five auxiliary bishops in the archdiocese and was the primary pastoral and liturgical administrator for 66 churches in the San Gabriel Region east of Los Angeles, Tamberg said. Archbishop Jose Gomez has appointed someone to handle those duties until the Vatican can appoint a replacement.