By Samuka V. Konneh The Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL) and Religions for Peace International, based in New York, say they are saddened by the demise of Archbishop Michael K. Francis, whom they described as a great leader and advocate for peace in Liberia. Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Deputy Secretary General of RfP Intl., said they received the death news of Archbishop Francis with sorrow; describing the late archbishop as a great leader in Religions for Peace and a champion of interreligious work in Liberia. “I have informed Dr. Vendley and our entire RfP movement to remember his legacy and be in solidarity with religious communities in Liberia,”* Rev. Sugino noted. The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia was highly respected among Liberian clerics for his outspokenness against ills in the Liberian society. He was President of both the Liberian Council of Churches and the Inter-religious Council of Liberia from 2000-2004 when he became ill and incapacitated. During and after Liberia’s years of war, the late Archbishop was a strong voice for peace and tranquility. “To achieve genuine and authentic peace, there must be reconciliation … but to have reconciliation and therefore peace, there must be justice. If there is no justice, if the fundamental rights of our people are not respected, it will be near impossible for genuine peace and reconciliation to come about in our country. Faith-based organizations can and should play a pivotal role,” Archbishop Michael Francis presentation in Washington D.C, November 22, 1999 . He died 19 May 2013, following a stroke in 2004. Born February 12, 1936 in Kakata, Margibi County, Archbishop Francis became a priest in 1963 and eventually became Archbishop of Monrovia in 1981, before resigning due to his ailing health. He did his graduate studies by cross registering in three Universities in the Washington D.C. area. Late Archbishop Francis studied Moral Theology with emphasis in Bio-ethics, Medical Ethics and Formation Psychology at the Catholic University of America, Bio-ethics and Medical Ethics at the Georgetown University and Ecumenical Theology at the Howard University School of Religion. He was ordained Deacon and Priest on August 15, 1962, and August 4, 1963 respectively in Liberia. After thirteen years, his Holiness Pope Paul VI appointed Father Michael Francis Vicar Apostolic of Monrovia and subsequently ordained Bishop on December 19, 1976 by Archbishop Dermot Carroll, SMA former Bishop of Monrovia and Nuncio Apostolic as principal Ordaining prelate. The Religions for Peace Communion which includes the Inter-religious Council of Liberia and religious communities in over 55 countries and 5 regions of the world stand in solidarity with the Archdiocese of Monrovia and share the grief of his demise.
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