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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs