News / Africa

Former Liberian Catholic Cleric, Michael Francis, Dies at 77

Archbishop Michael Francis of Liberia (courtesy of Frontpage Africa Liberia)Archbishop Michael Francis of Liberia (courtesy of Frontpage Africa Liberia)
x
Archbishop Michael Francis of Liberia (courtesy of Frontpage Africa Liberia)
Archbishop Michael Francis of Liberia (courtesy of Frontpage Africa Liberia)
James Butty
The man considered by many Liberians as the embodiment of the fight for human rights, good governance, and democracy, has died. 

Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael Francis, 77, died early Sunday in Monrovia. 

He had been ill since 2004 after suffering a stroke. 

In one of his final speeches, Francis spoke to Liberians in the United States in 2003 on a number of issues, including injustice in Liberia. He said there can never be peace in Liberia without justice. 

In his 2003 speech which he titled “A Liberia with Justice, Peace and Reconciliation,” Francis said there can be no peace without justice.

“Liberia, the land of the free, is a land of pains, a land of woes, and a land of injustice.  We must create the environment in which the respect for the fundamental rights of our people is respected; all Liberians are treated equally, and the means whereby we can live decent lives must be available.  Unless, and only unless, we as a people and nation come to grips with the unjust system we have in Liberia, ours will be a land of chaos, fratricidal contentions and desert of woes," he said.
Archbishop Francis act
Archbishop Francis acti
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Francis prefaced his speech by describing the principles which he said have guided him in both his pastoral and social services to Liberians.

“First, I believe every human being is sacred in God’s sight.  Violence as a means of obtaining objectives is immoral and against God’s commandments; that true peace will only be achieved in Liberia if we respect the fundamental rights of our people; that truth will always prevail, and fundamental to Christianity is injustice.” he said.

On Liberia’s nearly 14-year civil war, Francis criticized warlords for recruiting children into becoming fighters and killers.
Ziglar act
Ziglar acti
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

“All the warring factions are guilty of this, and their leaders and those connected with this dehumanizing act have to answer to God one day for what is happening to our children.  Unfortunately, militias engaged in the present war in Liberia on both sides of the divide are forcing our children to be combatants, to be destroyers, to be killers.  This is violence and it must stop; they must stop recruiting and using our children,” he said.

He also criticized what he called “the culture of lies and deception” in Liberia which he said had been detrimental to peace reconciliation.

“Lying and disseminating false stories are consciously used to induce prejudices and, above all, to serve one’s selfish interest. [Due to] the absence of adequate and accurate news gathering and publication by the media, the public is a very easy target for manipulation,” he said.
Bargblor act
Bargblor acti
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Francis also criticized what he called “the culture of silence” in Liberia in the wake of corruption and sycophancy.

“People know what is happening, but they keep silent.  They experience daily the injustices meted out by some officials of government, but they keep silent.  They know that people in the private sector aid and abet officials in the public sector to do evil, but they say nothing.  We do not stand up for the rights of our people.  It is our business and our concern when evil is being perpetrated in our society, in our country.  All of us have co-responsibility for the wholesome welfare of Liberia,” he said.

He said, in a society where the priority is the material wellbeing of a few individuals, the people should expect discord, discontentment, and tension.

“We want a country in which justice reigns, not injustice; we want a country in which people are treated as human beings and not as slaves; we want a country where the basic rights of all of us are respected and not downtrodden; we want a country in which every individual is considered equal to the other and not a country where a few are considered superior; we want a country in which the people can choose freely who they want as leaders and not a country in which a leadership is imposed through intimidation, bribery, imprisonment, lies, etc.,” he said.

The Most Reverend Lewis Zeigler, Archbishop of Monrovia, who succeeded Francis, said the late archbishop stood for justice because he strongly believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“First, my reaction is that of sadness, and then coupled with that, I would like to give thanks to God for his many blessings.  Nine years have gone by and he has been suffering.  While I grieve, I also thank God that He has called him to go home and rest.  He was a firm believer in the Gospel of Christ and, because of his faith, he stood for justice,” Zeigler said.

Edmund Bargblor of Providence, Rhode Island, a student in Nimba County, Liberia, where Francis was a parish priest, called on all churches in Liberia to fill the vacuum left by the death of Francis.

“Are there individuals in Liberia that will fill that vacuum?  Yes. But they, too, have to define their role, especially the church.  Bishop Francis has left us, but he left a legacy and I would like for the church of Liberia, the various churches, the Christian churches, even the Islamic mosques so that they, too, can occupy that vacuum to continue to articulate on behalf of the Liberian people with respect to social justice,” Barbgblor said.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid