Philippines: campaigning Jesuit Bishop Claver has died

Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ

Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ

Retired Jesuit Bishop Francisco Claver, a vocal defender of civil rights in the Marcos martial law era in the Philippines, died this morning. He was 81.

Bishop Claver drafted the 1986 Philippine bishops’ statement that is believed to have triggered People Power that was to unseat Ferdinand Marcos and pave the way for Corazon Aquino’s installation as president.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) described Bishop Claver as “one of the strongest defenders of civil rights among the bishops at the height of strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos’ martial law.”

Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences secretary general Archbishop Orlando B Quevedo of Cotabato, said in a text message:

“Filipino prophet without peer, truest priest, innovative humble shepherd, a very dear friend. He is with Jesus whom he proclaimed with eloquent words, spoken and written, in all arenas of human life.

“Who can take his place? My tears flow.”

The widely respected bishop held a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Colorado and was extremely active in the social affairs work of the Society of Jesus. He wrote extensively.

Bishop Claver was born in Bontoc on January 20, 1929. At the age of 32 on June 18, 1961 he became the first priest ordained from the indigenous Bontoc tribe of northern Philippines. At 40 he became the first bishop of Malaybalay, Bukidnon in Mindanao, southern Philippines. Bishop Claver began a process of dialogue with the people that helped him understand their deep desire for peaceful change.

The bishop dedicated many years to developing a model of a local Church but efforts toward inculturation and co-responsibility caused discomfort among some bishops in Rome.

“There is no other way for us Asians to evangelize our continent and its people, to do pastoral work among them, than through our becoming truly and determinedly active local church,” Bishop Claver wrote in his last book, The Making of the Local Church.

Source: UCAN

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