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

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora