Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen, the last surviving Filipino bishop who participated in the Second Vatican Council that introduced changes within the Roman Catholic Church, died on Wednesday at the age of 89.
Born on July 23, 1926 in Talisay City, Labayen joined the Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCD) and was appointed by Pope Paul VI as the local ordinary of the Prelature of Infanta in the Quezon province and concurrently the titular bishop of Sinnuara.
As a member of the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), he served as the first national director of the local counterpart of the worldwide Catholic humanitarian organization Caritas Internationalis – the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA).
Labayen was also the Church official who first published the CBCP’s IMPACT magazine that fought against the suppression of media practitioners during the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
In 2003, Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of Labayen from his episcopal post in relation to the precepts of the Code of Canon Law; giving him the title “Bishop Emeritus,“
“Bishop Labayen is best remembered for His pro-active witness and promotion of the social teachings of the Church,” the CBCP said in a statement.