A RETIRED official of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) died Thursday morning at the Intensive Care Unit of the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center in San Juan City.

Bishop Francisco Claver died of pulmonary embolism at 2:41 a.m. He was 81 years old.

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The prelate was one of the strongest defenders of civil rights among the bishops during the Martial Law time of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Pulmonary embolism is a condition that occurs when one or more arteries in the lungs will be blocked.

He became a Jesuit priest at age 32 on June 18, 1961. At 40, he was appointed Prelate of Malaybalay in Bukidnon province.

He chaired the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace of the CBCP from 1995-1999.

Bishop “Cisco”, as called by fellow bishops, was ordained Titular Bishop on August 22, 1969 and became Bishop of Malaybalay in November 15, 1982. He resigned from his post in Bukidnon on September 14, 1984.

On April 15, 2004, he retired after reaching the mandatory age of 75.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo aptly eulogizes bishop Claver thus: “Filipino prophet without peer, truest priest, innovative humble shepherd, and a very dear friend.”

While in retirement, Claver was a columnist of the CBCP Monitor, the official newspaper of the CBCP. (FP/SUnnex)