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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid