Bishop Julio Labayen dies at 89

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen, OCD, passed away Wednesday morning (April 27). He was 89.

Labayen was the last surviving Filipino bishop who participated in the Second Vatican Council.

In 1966, he was appointed Prelate of the Prelature of Infanta, Quezon. He then became the titular bishop of Sinnuara for 12 years.

On the same year, he published IMPACT, a magazine that "braved the suppressed media during Martial Law."

A newspaper columnist said of Labayen: “Bishop Julio Xvier Labayen, a member of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites, is viewed by many as ‘controversial,’ having figured in clashes with the Marcos dictatorship. In a sea of conservatives in the Philippines Church hierarchy, the bishop is considered a voice in the wilderness.”

Bishop Labayen was granted the Gawad Kagitingan national award in 2004.

"Social action was a Johnny-come-lately in the apostolate of the Philippine church. We were overtaken by Martial Law and it was a completely new experience for us," Labayen once said in a speech. "That is when we moved very seriously into justice work because of the violations of human rights."

He was the first National Director of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) from 1966 to 1982.

The CBCP said Labayen will best be remembered for "his pro-active witness and promotion of the social teachings of the Church."

The bishop retired in August 2003 and spent his last days in Antipolo.

In 2007, when he was 81, he joined the Manila Peninsula siege which called for the ouster of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Labayen was born in Talisay, Negros Occidental on July 23, 1926. He was ordained a priest of the Order of Discalced Carmelites when he was 28 years old.