Carlos Celdran, a Philippine cultural activist and performance artist who received national attention for his dramatic protest against the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on reproductive health, died on Tuesday in Spain , where he had been living in exile. He was 46.
His wife, Tesa, announced his death on Facebook. No other details were given.
In 2010 Mr . Celdran interrupted a Mass at the storied Manila Cathedral, dressed as José Rizal, an author who was considered a national hero after being executed by the Spanish in 1896 for leading a peaceful revolt against the colonial government. Mr. Celdran carried a large sign that read “ DAMASO ” — a reference to Father Damaso, a character from one of Mr. Rizal’s novels who symbolized corruption in the church.
In attendance were leaders of the church, whom he criticized for their role in blocking the passage of a reproductive health bill that would have helped the country’s poorest women gain access to contraceptives.
The Philippines is Asia’s only predominantly Catholic nation, and it is the only state aside from the Vatican that still bans divorce. Catholicism plays an outsize role in the country’s political life as well, despite the separation of church and state spelled out in its constitution. The church was instrumental in galvanizing a so-called people power movement that led to the ouster of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos after his brutal two-decade rule.