Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala on Wednesday, according to the BBC.
Zavala, who served the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles, admitted to having a secret family and fathering two children who are now teenagers, according to MSNBC. He applied for resignation under a special provision in canon law which allows bishops to retire before the age of 75 if they are unwell or unfit for office, reports The Washington Post.
The Catholic church requires its priests to uphold a vow of celibacy.
Zavala, who is 60, was ordained in 1977 and was posted at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in East Los Angeles. He was named rector in 1992 to St. John’s Seminary and ordained as auxiliary bishop for the San Gabriel area in 1994, according to The Los Angeles Times.
MSNBC reports that Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez wrote a letter to the Vatican revealing that Zavala had informed him of his secret family in December. Gomez wrote, "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 family's identity is not known to the public, and I wish to respect their right to privacy."
The diocese Zavala served has been embattled by scandals and paid a $660 million settlement in 2007 in reparation for sexual abuse cases dating back to the 1940s, according to MSNBC.
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According to the BBC, the Vatican made no reference to the reason behind Zavala’s resignation in its statement and the Pope reinforced the church’s views on celibacy as recently as March 2010 when he said celibacy was “the sign of full devotion, the entire commitment to the Lord and to the 'Lord's business', an expression of giving oneself to God and to others."