guardian.co.uk, Friday 6 January 2012
Last week it emerged that Gabino Zavala, the auxiliary bishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles for nearly 18 years, has a secret family. The existence of his two teenage children has been deemed a sufficiently “grave cause”, as defined by Canon 401 of the code of canon law, that he has been obliged to resign. Memories of other notable cases resurface: the Eamon Casey scandal of the early 90s, when revelations that he fathered a child two years before his episcopal appointment led to his resignation as Bishop of Galway; the more recent case of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel, who had as many as six children (although accusations of paedophilia and incest make this alleged offence pale into insignificance). Zavala is hardly the first priest to break his vow of celibacy in such spectacular fashion, and in fact the church has struggled with the problem of “Fathers who are fathers” for centuries.
The children of Catholic priests have historically presented a double problem to the Latin Rite church: clearly they give the game away about dad’s lack of conformity to the requirement for celibacy, but they also put a financial burden on his employer. Indeed, in Wednesday’s statement on the Zavala case, his superior Archbishop José Gomez seemed to privilege the “spiritual care” that the archdiocese has extended to the bishop’s secret family above the offered “funding to assist the children with college costs”, while the archdiocesan spokesman has been at pains to emphasise that Zavala was not siphoning off church funds to his illegitimate children.
Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.