Catholics Stunned by News of Bishop Fathering Two Sons

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 It's been three decades since Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, 60, led mass and religious functions at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in East Los Angeles, but his recent resignation and admission that he fathered two sons now living out of state has shocked faithful parishioners.

Maria Isabel Delgado, now a parishioner at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Montebello, says she found God while attending Our Lady of Guadalupe during the late 1980s and 1990s. And while she was not at the church at the same time as Zavala (1977-1982) she was nonetheless taken aback when she was informed by a reporter that Zavala had fathered two children.

"I completely disapprove, I am very concerned," Delgado said. "I'm nobody to judge him, only God can judge him, but it's not right that they fool us."

As auxiliary bishop, Zavala oversaw 66 churches in the San Gabriel Region, Archdiocese spokesman Carolina Guevara told EGP. Zavala's sons live in another state with their mother and there is no additional information, Guevara said.

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, a Catholic whose four children attend parochial school, was also shocked to learn about Zavala's former secret.

Huizar said he knew Zavala from public events and described the former bishop as "very down to earth. You almost felt like he was a neighbor," he told City News Service.

On Wednesday, Archbishop José Gomez in a letter to members of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the United States covering Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, said Zavala had resigned his post with the Catholic church after admitting in December that he fathered two children, who are now teenagers.

"I have some sad and difficult information to share with you," Gomez wrote, explaining that Zavala's letter of resignation had been accepted by the Pope in Rome.

While the Catholic Church has been rocked by child abuse scandals in the past, Guevara said Zavala's relationship was between two consenting adults.

"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," Gomez wrote in the letter. "The family's identity is not known to the public, and I wish to respect their right to privacy."

Zavala was born in Mexico but grew up in Los Angeles and attended St. John's Seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1977 and was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, in East Los Angeles, according to the Archdiocese's website.

Zavala worked in the Archdiocese Tribunal after graduating from Catholic University of America with a degree in Canon Law, in 1992 he was named rector of St. John's Seminary, and in 1994 he was elevated to Auxiliary Bishop for the San Gabriel Region by Cardinal Roger Mahony, according to the Archdiocese's website.

Zavala is now living as a private person according to Guevara. The Rev. James Loughnane was appointed by Gomez to temporarily fill Zavala's post.