The resignation of Bp. Zavala

The blogosphere (and my email) is full of the resignation of LA’s Auxiliary Bishop Most Rev. Gabino Zavala. I don’t have to say much about it. How very sad this all is.

I will only remind you that Bp. Zavala was President of Pax Christi, the USA Chapter of the international “Peace” Movement. In 2008 he was elected chair of the USCCB’s Communications Committee… over Bp. Finn. Bp. Zavala also presided over the closing liturgy of the Three Days of Darkness Education Conference in LA a couple years back. Who could forget those images…those tunes? (HERE)


The video of that liturgy is broken into parts. Some of them are worth reviewing.

Pray for the people of Los Angeles and for Archbp. Gomez.

Finally, Holy Church is composed of wheat and tares. It has been said that Holy Church is not a spiritual museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners. We are all sinners, every one of us. There is only one Just One.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. DFWShook says:

    I have a question: Why is the Archdiocese of LA assisting with college tuition of Bp. Zavala’s children?

  2. Peggy R says:

    DFWSnook beat me to it. Why should the college education of his children be aided by the Archdiocese? I can understand aiding their support as minors. But, they are now adults. There is no obligation to send one’s kid to college.

  3. DFWShook says:

    @Peggy – It is “DFWShook” not DFWSnook. ;)

  4. Magister Germanicus says:

    I threw up a little in my mouth when I saw that video.

  5. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Boy, the bishops of that archdiocese love to fritter away the faithful’s donations on sex-abuse settlements and bastard children. The faithful, not the bishops, have to pay for the LA clergy’s lusts and perversions. I hope Bishop Zavala enjoys his comfortable retirement.

  6. Frank H says:

    Re the college tuition…this is pure conjecture, but perhaps they think it will be less expensive (and more pastoral) to make such an offer up front, rather than be in defense mode when the mother sues the pants off the archdiocese. You have to expect someone like attorney Jeff Anderson already smells blood and is lurking getting ready to attack!

  7. Glen M says:

    IMHO there is a connection between clergy who break the liturgical rules and then others. If a priest thinks rubrics don’t matter then the brush of moral relativism may blind his judgement on other matters. Scratch the surface of a liturgy like in this video and you shouldn’t be surprised to learn of news such as today’s. Laity need to pray for and encourage our priests to say the black, do the red. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi.

  8. APX says:

    Where does it say his children are adults? What I’m reading says they’re minor teenagers.

  9. Semper Idem says:

    I always think that the video is a big, cruel joke. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  10. Ralph says:

    Two thoughts:
    1. Why did Bishop pick this time to “come out”? If they are “minor teenaged children” he has had at least 13 years to come clean. What prompted the confession?

    2. Isn’t it his responsibility as a father to care for the financial needs of his children? Assuming that the mother was an adult at the time of the conception, why is the Church taking a financial position at all?

  11. Peggy R says:

    My apologies.

  12. Peggy R says:

    Sorry. I was thinking they’d be adults as college students. No need to support them after 18.

  13. PostCatholic says:

    It does sadden me that so many responses above resent the tuition assistance the Archbishop Gomez has offered. One of its executives, now unemployed, deprived his children of a fatherly presence and his earning capacity during his working years in order to continue to work for the Archdiocese and live in a duplicitous manner. If it is in the power of the Archdiocese to help Zavala’s victims, why not do what it can?

  14. Warren says:

    Bishop Zavala must have thought that the road to hell had a pothole that needed filling.
    As for the abomination that is the religious education conference, I quote Bob Newhart to Mo Collins: “STOP IT!”

  15. BenFischer says:

    I’m sure the archdiocese is trying to do the right thing and head off a lawsuit, but I don’t know that the proper analogy is that of an employee who deprived children of a father so he could work in the organization. The Bishop in this case took a vow of celibacy and broke that vow. It’s the same as breaking the vow of fidelity I made when I married my wife. In the case the jilted wife is being asked to pay child support for the Bishops illegitimate children. I’d prefer the Bishop get a job and pay for his kids just like every other father is expected to, but there you have it.

  16. yatzer says:

    If we are going to see our bishops primarily as executives, it would seriously change my image of the Church. My own view is more that of the previous comparison to a man who violated marriage vows and then expected the wife to pay for the other children’s college.

  17. PostCatholic says:

    Let me clarify that I primarily see your bishops as clergymen. But executive is a term that also applies in this instance.

  18. priests wife says:

    I’m not clear on this- are the sacraments that the Bishop administered during these years considered illicit/invalid (most likely not invalid) because of this grave sin (breaking vow of celibacy- sex with no marriage-lying- scandal, etc)

    This has nothing to do with requiring celibacy in the Roman-rite. No one forced him to be priest, then bishop. This is sinful pride and hypocrisy- and a woman who was willing to be with a man who was not available for a relationship. sick.

  19. vox borealis says:

    The gifts of Mahoney keep on givin’!

  20. Looks like the cleansing of the City of Angels has begun.

    What I would like to know is who vetted his episcopal appointment.

  21. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Well, it’s clearly bad that the bishop sinned against chastity and kept that sin under wraps for so many years. However at least he apparently didn’t seek to have the issue of that union exterminated, which is more than can often be expected these days and, AFAIK, he didn’t commit the unspeakable crime against nature. Of course he should do penance for his sins, as I should for mine too. Bp. Zavala, the children and the mother of these children need prayers.

    Yes, it’s somewhat upsetting that the diocese’s resources are going to be used for a purpose that no one would have expected, but a token of concern toward these unfortunate children is fitting and proper. Perhaps AOLA can work out a discount with Catholic colleges for these children when the time comes. When another bishop was in a car crash a few years ago, diocesan resources were used to help the victims of that sad event. Same principle. It’s incumbent on us laymen to pray for our clergy, encourage vocations, encourage holiness, fast and give alms.

    I know Abp. Gomez just a little bit from his days in Denver. It’s a huge job ahead of him, but he’s the best man for it.

  22. SimonR says:

    Very sad news.

    Watching the Closing Liturgy YouTube video again leaves me with the same reaction as before: completely open mouthed. Never seen anything like it, especially the Deacon at 6.20mins doing his dance!

    It is certainly different than my Parish.

  23. PostCatholic says:

    Please review. I didn’t say the Archdiocese had a responsibility to assist Bishop Zavala’s children. I do think it’s sad that some people resent concern and charity from Archbishop Gomez and the AOLA towards young people vicitimized by a hypocrite and liar who worked for him.

  24. Elizabeth D says:

    I bet Bp Zavala has been in dialogue with the Holy See about his future for some time. Cdl Mahony was obviously not one to insist on coming clean or resigning, but Abp Gomez is clearly the right man to set things right. I wonder if the Archdiocese paying for the children’s college expenses is part of an agreement with Bp Zavala to make it an easier choice for him to publically admit what happened, resign, and thereafter live privately and quietly. It also is an act of charity toward the children, who grew up without a dad and whose welfare and salvation everyone ought to care about. It is no good if the children are scandalized by this miserable situation.

    I don’t feel strongly opposed to the Archdiocese paying for that, past leadership of the Archdiocese almost certainly bears some kind of guilt in this mess. If I lived there I would be willing that my money went toward the education of these children.

    Bp Zavala was named and consecrated auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles in 1994, 17 years ago in the midst of the Mahony era. It seems like his children probably were fathered during the time when he was a bishop.

  25. priests wife says: I’m not clear on this- are the sacraments that the Bishop administered during these years considered illicit/invalid (most likely not invalid) because of this grave sin (breaking vow of celibacy- sex with no marriage-lying- scandal, etc)

    No, thank God, provided they were not deficient as to form, matter or intent. A priest who celebrates Mass and administers the Sacraments in a state of mortal sin is committing a sacrilege, but fortunately for us who receive the Sacraments at his hands, that is strictly between him and God, and has no effect on the exercise of his priestly powers. It is a mercy that we do not need to worry about the state of our priests’ souls when it comes to the validity of the Sacraments.

  26. HeadSacristan says:

    priest’s wife- The sacraments administered by Bishop Zavala are valid. (The belief that sacraments are made invalid because of the minister’s state of grave sin was a heresy known as Donatism.) I’m not sure if they were licit, but it was immoral for him to administer the sacraments.
    This is certainly a sad case and as you said, sick considering he didn’t have to become a bishop. Makes me wonder what he was thinking.

  27. kiwiinamerica says:

    Isn’t it obvious why he’s resigning now? There is now a new Ordinary in LA and a new way of doing things. Cardinal Mahony has gone. A house cleaning is in progress. There are bound to be all sorts of aberrations which were tolerated by Abp Gomez’s predecessor, most notably the lavender mafia who were running amok but there are sure to be other irregularities which were tolerated too, such as this one.

    And so, to Bp Zavala, I say…………………*John McLaughlin voice*………….byeee byyyyyeeeeeeeee!!!

  28. Andy Milam says:

    @ HeadSacristan….

    For His Excellency to administer the Sacraments was valid, but because he was in a state of mortal sin, every one of them was sacrilege. That is the best term to use.

    It is all too sad, I have to agree with Fr. Z….

  29. Supertradmum says:

    The video is to me a nightmare of the Catholic Church in America. One reason I left my diocese were liturgies like this on a smaller scale. The blue and purple vestments are too much. There is a saying that if there are serious abuses in the liturgy with a priest, there are other abuses. Look at St. Catherine of Siena’s Dialogues. And, these are the people who hate the TLM.

    May God have mercy on Zavala and on us. May the Church which mourns be renewed.

  30. tealady24 says:

    For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world . . .

  31. LouiseA says:

    Why is it that the liberals have a problem with Latin in the Liturgy because “nobody understands Latin”, and yet they don’t have any problem with African lyrics in their song and dance routines? Seriously, how many people at that huge assembly knew what “Amen Siakudumisa” means?

  32. Jenelle says:

    This is the first time I have ever seen that video and it has made me so upset. It is so disturbing and so.. sad.

    Very very disappointing.

  33. Dr. K says:

    “I’m sure the archdiocese is trying to do the right thing and head off a lawsuit”

    “rather than be in defense mode when the mother sues the pants off the archdiocese”

    In what way did the diocese impregnate the woman with two children? The responsibility rests solely with this former bishop to provide for the needs of his children.

  34. PostCatholic says:

    It will be interesting to see if and how he does provide for those children. Book deal? Movie rights?

  35. lgreen515 says:

    I’ve been to one of these–it’s an evangelical praise service. But what’s with the guys in the robes?

  36. NoTambourines says:

    What a horrifying video. Really, does anyone truly like that sort of thing (or so much of the hymnals, and liturgical innovation after innovation), or do they just play along because they think it’s what they’re supposed to do, and worry no one else is thinking what they’re thinking?

    As for Zavala, you know how this is going to be spun in the usual places. Check out the tacked-on sentence from this AP report []:

    “The celibacy requirement is often blamed for discouraging many men who would otherwise consider the priesthood.”

    By whom?

  37. Lauren says:

    After viewing the you tube video I am not sad. I’m mad. I say “Adios” to the Bishop.

    Next place to clean up: Texas. Masses there leave me shaking.

  38. RobertK says:

    Presider of the famous LA Liturgical conference 2010. :)

  39. Jim says:

    If this was before my reading of The Reverend Know-It-All’s (Fr. Richard T. Simon’s)“A short history of the Hootenanny Mass & other absurdities”, I would have requested Fr. Z to mark the video PG-60, but now I know better.
    My favorite part was the looney deacon’s “drunken monkey procession”.

  40. He confirmed me, He consecrated Jesus in a flagon at a Mass I was serving at…I’m going to remain charitable and pray for him…

  41. Novum Eboracense says:

    Dig that crazy twirling Deacon?

  42. justin1 says:

    All of us are just in shock, this is the same Bishop who lived literally 2 blocks (or so) away from St.John Vianney in Hacienda Heights, when it was sadly burned to the ground on Palm Sunday last year (arsonist), who also celebrated Easter Vigil last year at my own Parish and many a confirmation. All we can do now is Pray, and not to pass any particular judgement.

  43. marcpuckett says:

    I’m surprised that no one has remarked on the fact that Mons Zavala was ‘in the news’ last year, pontificating from his USCCB post about those terrible, uncharitable bloggers.

    “We are particularly concerned about blogs that engage in attacks and hurtful, judgmental language. We are very troubled by blogs and other elements of media that assume the role of Magisterium and judge others in the Church. Such actions shatter the communion of the Church that we hold so precious.” ( )

    I suppose we all need to be recalled to the practice of charity….

  44. frjim4321 says:

    Lest one forget marginal lifestyles among clerics exist at all points of the ideological spectrum. No need for names, they are well known. All are sad.

  45. xavier217 says:

    Just watched the video. About to go to bed and I know damned well I’m going to have nightmares.

  46. Mike Morrow says:

    After watching that breathtaking video of approved Novus Ordo terpsichorean theatrics with countless newchurch servers and acolytes and deacons and “other ministers” and priests and bishops participating, I can now easily understand all those who continuously get their panties in a wad about the threat that the SSPX represents! However, I understand that Zavala’s confession was simply a cover that allowed him to retire and escape the unbearable cross of the new missal translation!

    Does anyone with intelligence sufficient to be considered sentient believe that the newchurch gang that puts on such liturgical orgies while rewarding a dishonorable opportunistic fraud is really part of the Roman Catholic Church?

  47. chonak says:

    Ah, yes, the Three Days of Darkness! Who can forget that?

    Can anyone living in L.A. tell us if the event has changed or is going to change under the guidance of the new, improved archbishop?

  48. Sue in soCal says:

    Wow! I saw way too many familiar faces in that video. The attitude demonstrated is why I have not attended this conference in decades. The conference has multiple speakers every year that teach “outside of the box” in matters of doctrine. It was the same last year but I am hoping that it was because contracts had already been signed long ago. If it is not substantially different this year I shall be asking through the appropriate channels why.

    Bishop Zavala, as you see, has always been “cutting edge”. There was a “Day of Empowerment for Women” a few years ago, advertised in our archdiocesan newspaper, put on by a (surprise!) liberal order of nuns that culminated in a Mass with Bishop Zavala presiding. A laywoman gave the “reflection” after the Gospel.

    I called the order’s number and had an interesting discussion with one of the good sisters that consisted mostly of me citing a document on liturgical norms and the sister repeatedly asking, “Who is this?!?!” (She did not buy my explanation that I was a simple parishioner in the archdiocese concerned about liturgical abuse.) In this conversation I discovered that the woman had actually given the sermon and Bishop Zavala had let this woman usurp his role.

    I wrote Bishop Zavala asking if the situation as described to me was what happened, quoted from the document on liturgy showing that this was not allowed if it had happened, and noting that Cardinal Arinze had said that this practice was abrogated.

    I am still awaiting a response. . .

  49. New Sister says:

    Those Deacons – and their wives…. YUCK!!

  50. Jenelle says:

    Thank you for asking that question Chonak! I was trying to sleep last night (the horror of this video kept replying in my head) and I was actually thinking the same thing.

    I pray for those in LA that have had to deal with this. :(

  51. puma19 says:

    good heavens. I am never surprised by what some bishops do and have indeed done in the long history of the Church. After all, we have had popes who fathered children and had mistresses, and done the most erotic things while pontiff, so let’s not get too upset since a look back will show that the Church had far worse bishops who succumbed to the flesh. But what is stuning here is that this was a secret for so long and as his children are said to be ‘minor teenagers’ then this must mean the bishop fathered them after he was consecrated. Did he have no shame, no guilt on this and decide to step down? He would have been asked if he wanted to accept being bishop, and then after that had kids. What has now come out after 17 episcopal years is a sad resignation and a period when he was an ‘absent father’ . Of course we dont know if he has seen the two kids at anytime in that period privately and do they know he is a bishop. All questions and now like so many other former bishops, he will go off into the sunset and probably live in a monastery.
    Scandals like this only serve to show we are a Church of sinners.
    But, what I found almost worse and sickening was the video Fr Z has put up. What language was this at the start? What liturgical ceremony was that with all the prancing-dancing? Surely would never be seen in St Peter’s so how can it be valid elsewhere? Was the local Ordinary’s approval given? And what of the bare altar at the start with a ‘book of gospels’ on it? Was it Good Friday? No candles, no altar cloths and just the sight of the clergy and the-now-former auxiliary clapping at the altar. What had clapping got to do with the sacred liturgy? How do these bishops (and there were many there) and clergy justify this erratic and totally horrific dancing and clapping at the sacred liturgy? Is it any wonder we have a ‘disobedient’ clergy and many bishops who go along with this style of circus liturgy that seeks to promote performance and colour to the detriment of what is after all, the sacrifice of the Lord on Calvary.
    It was a sickening video. But we must always pray for thos bishops and clergy who go off the rails and who are meant to be public witnesses to the crucified and Risen Lord.

  52. rbbadger says:

    I spent two years in the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I saw some interesting things and other things I’d care not to remember. I’ve known some wonderful priests who belong to that Archdiocese. Not everyone was on the same page as the archbishop and the chancery officials, thanks be to God, even at the seminary. An example was my moral theology professor. My moral theology professor loved and esteemed the manualist tradition, despite earning his doctorate at the hotbed of proportionalism, namely the Louvain. He once told me that there’s a way to use proportionalism so that it is orthodox, but it requires so much effort that it’s hardly worth the bother. He also required us to attend a few lectures given by Father Robert Spitzer, S.J. And yes, we had to read the manuals. It was an unexpected surprise.
    As far as the stripped altar goes, this was something the Archdiocese loved to do for major liturgies. I remember being present for priesthood ordinations where the altar was stripped before Mass and only had the altar cloths placed on it at the offertory. It was at that same ordination where they had liturgical dancers over the vociferous opposition of the ordinandi. I saw some beautiful Masses in LA, some even celebrated by the cardinal. And I saw some horrible things, again with the cardinal present.
    It was during my time there that the college division of the seminary was closed. Cardinal Mahony, perhaps trying to be funny said, “20 or 30 years from now, my successor may tell you something different whoever he or she may be”.
    Zavala was definitely a Mahony auxiliary. He is probably the most liberal of the auxiliaries Mahony had during my time there. I pray that Archbishop Gomez can restore some sanity to the place.

  53. chonak, i’ll let you know…I plan to be there…precisely to see if Abp Gomez makes any improvements. I gave him a pass for last years. This year it’s all on him.

  54. q7swallows says:

    The whole situation is deplorable and beyond sad–from Archdiocesan level to personal.  Before we cast stones, however, let us recall that Judgment Day is coming in which all of our own sins and secrets that are luxuriating now in the folds of privacy are going to be aired out in the clarity of Absolute Light and examined by Goodness Himself for all to see.

    Let us think on what hot tears the poor man must have for bread now and the fatherly efforts of Archbp. Gomez to protect, teach, and bind up the wounds of ALL the affected parties.  

    Oremus.  Let us offer rather penance for them and ourselves.

  55. mjkelly says:

    BANG ON Fr. Z.
    “Finally, Holy Church is composed of wheat and tares. Holy Church is not a spiritual museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners. We are all sinners, every one of us. There is only one Just One. ”

    But perhaps some with a collar could at least try or simply pretend to be observant of norms.

    “Conservative” and “liberal” are terms when discussing politics. When discussing the Faith words like “Strict Observer” or “Laxist” are more accurate (I am a notorious Laxist!). These are terms applied when there is a standard to adhere to. Better yet the classification can also be FAITHFUL or UNFAITHFUL.

  56. frjim4321 says:

    Again, the comments in this string seem to be emphasizing the alleged ideological leanings of Bishop Gomez as if only clerics who are left-of-center have acted out in other than normative ways. I would like to avoid providing a laundry list of ultra-conservative clerics who have perhaps behaved more badly than conducting a consensual sexual relationship with an adult female. With respect the the emphasis of the relationship of Bishop Gomez with his Cardinal we could also emphasize the close relationship (including money-raising capabilities) of highly visible arch-conservative prelates with the Holy See. I trust make myself obscure.

  57. Frank H says:

    Concerning Bp. Zavala’s children… What did Cardinal Mahoney know, and when did he know it?

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