Pastoral Letter Takes Government of Liberia to Task

The Perspective

December 6, 2001

The outspoken Catholic Archbishop, Michael Kpakala Francis, has issued his yearly pastoral letter commenting on a wide-ranging issues affecting the Liberian society. The Catholic prelate has often used his pastoral letters, which represent the church’s views and thinking on the social, economic, political and moral underpinnings of the Liberian society, to call attention to these issues and their impact on the Liberian people.

Reflecting on the legacy of the recent civil war and the failure to correct the mistakes of the past, the Bishop observed that "for seven plus years we suffered; we committed heinous crimes; we literally destroyed our country and ourselves. From what is going in our society today in our country and our nation, one wonders if the past has taught us any lessons," noting that "We do the same things, commit the same sins and spiritually destroy ourselves." "What kind of people are we?" He asked.

Pointing to the continued erosion and moral decline of civic society, the Catholic Bishop cited in his letter that "our lives as individuals and as a nation are characterized with corruption, lies and deception, injustices and low salaries."

The letter further underscored that "The political and social structure in our country are sinful, leading to pressure on our people. Patronage is the order of the day and this is demeaning to the human dignity of the individual and homosexuality."

Not mincing words in his letter, and exposing the growing economic disparity in the Liberian society, the Bishop wondered aloud: "How can a person live on LD$800.00 a month? Yet those in position of authority are living in homes that cost thousands of United States dollars."

Adding further, the Catholic Bishop continued, "in the first place, where did they and how are they getting such sums to live in such luxury? Yet their subordinates live on pittance. Does this not lead to corruption?"

On the judicial system, the Bishop’s letter expressed disappointment in the transparency of justice, noting that "Persons are being arrested and incarcerated before we look for a charge. Some of our citizens have been murdered and up until now their murderers have not been brought to justice."

Commenting further, the Bishop said, "we see daily how our people are being treated and their rights violated with impunity."

In reacting to the Bishop’s letter, the Liberian government took umbrage to the Bishop’s criticism. The Deputy Presidential Affairs Minister for Public Affairs, Mr. Alexander Kulu, said because of the ongoing war in Lofa, "government was not receiving the needed revenues" to address the Bishop’s concerns. But Mr. Kulu unleashed a personal attack on the Bishop: "I can say without bending back, Bishop Francis does not like this government. He does not want to see it in power," the Minister was quoted (by the Inquirer) as saying on BBC.

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