Catholic Archbishop Francis Warns Against Silence In Liberia

By: I. Solo Kelgbeh

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted November 20, 2003

Catholic Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis has called on Liberians to desist from the culture of silence. He said, as we approach the new year, Liberians must speak without fear to change the trend of events unfolding in the country. Archbishop Francis said speaking out against the ills in the society will help shape for the better the future of the country.

Archbishop Francis made the call yesterday when the Liberia Grand Commandery and Grand Ladies Auxiliary, Knights of St. John International presented a statement of appreciation to him.
The Catholic leader in Liberia maintained that unless Liberians speak out, the respect of the fundamental rights of others which is the hallmark of Christianity will be lacking. Urging Liberians to be vocal, the Catholic Archbishop noted that nothing happens without God’s divine approval.
The archbishop, although expressed happiness that things are coming to fruition, was very worried about the future of Liberia if the culture of silence continues.

Archbishop Francis said no matter what it takes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He said Liberia will once more get among the comity of nations despite the slow pace things are taken for the restoration of peace.

"With UNMIL in the country, things will be alright. This is the largest United Nations peacekeeping mission in the world", Archbishop Francis maintained.

During the presentation ceremony yesterday at his Ashmun Street office, the Catholic Archbishop also lashed at those claiming to be leaders and liberators but turned looters and killers.

Archbishop Francis noted that it was those in leadership position that looted the coffers of government which was left with zero balance when the National Transitional Government of Liberia came to power.

He said the group who claimed to be another liberators were killers saying "they were indiscriminately throwing rockets in every direction thereby claiming the lives of innocent people".
The Archbishop observed that the youths of our country have turned into killers, looters, rapers among others thus leaving the country without future. He pointed out that all Liberians must stand firm to meet the challenges ahead if we are to transform the future of our youths.

He asserted that the problem created by these so-called liberators has affected every sector of the society thus claiming the attention of the international community.

The Catholic Church leader in Liberia said that this was one of the many reasons why Liberians must speak out.

Reading the statement of appreciation earlier, Major Moenti E. Young, Grand Secretary of the Commandery spoke highly of the archbishop’s openness and frankness in speaking the truth.
According to the statement, the group is grateful that the Archbishop has persistently and relentlessly spoken against immorality, human rights violations, injustices, and the culture of violence.

The statement also maintained that Archbishop Francis categorically denounced bad governance which has devoured the socio-politico fabric of our society.

Major Young said this Statement of Appreciation was for the invaluable services and your determined role in ensuring that Liberians enjoy lasting peace. See full text of the statement on page three

Culture of Silence Is Dangerous
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP MICHAEL Francis has called on Liberians to speak out without fear if the future of the country is to be protected. The venerable archbishop has also challenged Liberians to help change the future of the country.

THE RENOWNED CATHOLIC Archbishop made the call yesterday when officials of the Liberia Grand Commandery and Grand Ladies Auxiliary, Knights of St. John International presented him a statement of appreciation.

LIKE THE ARCHBISHOP, we have repeatedly cautioned our people about the culture of silence that seem to be creeping in the more on the Liberian society. On many occasions, people who have been taken to be opinion leaders and role models, have remained mute on burning issues of national concern, especially so when these issues affect our very existence as a people and nation.
IN SOME CASES, after some of those who are vocal against the ills and vices of society are given positions in government, they join the bandwagon for fear of losing their jobs. Likewise, for some, they believe that only the press, the church and human rights groups should be the ones to speak out against issues.

ON THE OTHER hand, some people during the Charles Taylor-led administration, said that they could not speak out then because by doing so they could have possibly faced arrest and detention. But now that Taylor is gone, what more could be the justification for the continued culture of silence? Why are people, especially some of those who were vocal during the Taylor regime but now find themselves in the status quo, silent as the mistakes of the past continue?

TODAY, THE KILLING, mayhem, looting, rape and inhumane treatment continue to be perpetrated by armed men against civilians despite their leaders being aboard the National Transitional Government of Liberia. In addition, people in the rural areas continue to be enslaved by so-called liberators, messiahs and freedom fighters. Yet, we are keeping silent on the atrocities.
FURTHERMORE, IN SPITE of the induction of the transitional government put together by the warring factions, coupled with the deployment of international peacekeepers in certain areas, noticeably on Bushrod Island which is a suburb of the seat of government, there is still no civil authority. Additionally, there have been instances of mob justice in parts of the capital city in recent time, again, many are silent on these issues. Why?

MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT is much more disturbing is that up to now, the government is yet to be completed! Some parties to the agreement are not respecting the very agreement they committed themselves to follow. The Civil Service which was to remain intact without factional leanings thus deliberately left out during the apportioning of jobs is today, being arbitrarily filled by partisan loyalists of the factions. Disappointingly, people have been given jobs for which they are not qualified. What a contradiction, yet people are silent on the issue!

WHERE ARE THOSE who were vocal during Taylor’s administration? Were they doing so only because they wanted jobs in government?. Or were they doing so because Taylor was the "Buku-man"? We ask these questions because it is disheartening that people who were speaking out yesterday, are today in government and remain silent against some of the very things they used to speak against.

INDEED, LIKE THE Archbishop says, "if we continue to remain silent, the society will be polluted more", thereby retarding national growth and development. Therefore, it is necessary that people speak out against the ills of society and against those things detrimental to moving the country forward.

IN CLOSING, WE thank the Order for bestowing honor on this noble son of the soil. In all fairness, he deserves it. In fact, we must all emulate his outspokenness to move our dear "Sweet Land of Liberty Forward, but Backward Never!!!

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.