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Rev. Tomas Clavel, 66; Archbishop Known as the ‘Vicar to Hispanics’

The Most Rev. Tomas Clavel, archbishop emeritus of Panama and “Vicar to Hispanics” in the Diocese of Orange, died Thursday after a heart attack and a brain hemorrhage. He had been stricken Wednesday afternoon and died at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange.

He was 66, and was known as a champion of immigrant rights.

Said Bishop Norman F. McFarland: “The death of Archbishop Tomas Clavel is a tremendous loss to the entire Church of Orange, but in a special way to the Hispanic people of this diocese whom he so faithfully served. We join our voices to theirs and say, ‘ Descanse en paz ' (Rest in peace).”

As a result of a change in Panamanian leadership, Clavel was exiled from his native land in 1968. (He had officiated at the wedding that year of future Panamanian dictator Antonio Noriega.)

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In 1971, Cardinal Timothy Manning, then the Archbishop of Los Angeles, invited Clavel to Orange County, where he had served as pastoral leader to half of Orange County’s 600,000 Latinos since 1977.


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