By Joeraisee I.P. Joe, Cub reporter
Faith and Justice Network (FJN), a local-based religious and human rights organization on Thursday, August 8, 2019 officially launched the Archbishop Michael K. Francis Intellectual Discourse on Social Justice and Peace.
FJN was established to promote an ecumenical social justice advocacy strategy for just governance and citizens’ participation in public policy formulation and implementation.
The organization also creates the space for citizens’ engagement to influence social participation to build competences and skills for church leaders and religious-related institutions to lobby and advocate initiatives, and to promote moral integrity in schools/universities through corruption free school campaign.
FJN launched the Archbishop Michael K. Francis Intellectual Discourse on Social Justice and Peace in collaboration with the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), and the Association of Evangelicals of Liberia (AEL) under the theme, “Promoting the Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability-Prospect and Challenges for Post Conflict Liberia.”
The intellectual discourse creates awareness and conscientious citizens’ minds on the work and teachings of Archbishop Michael K. Francis on social realities with the aim to encourage citizens to support peace and justice throughout the country through conflict prevention, peace building, human rights and sustainable development.
FJN Board Chair, Archbishop Jonathan B. B. Hart, said that promoting the rule of law, transparency and accountability in postwar Liberia is not optional, but to produce government that is legitimate, effective and is supported by the citizens. Archbishop Hart is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Liberia and Primate of the Interim Province of the Anglican Province of West Africa.
“It is not just a matter of deciding to be good people; citizens must believe they will be better off under a reformed system of governance,” Archbishop Hart said. “Where the rule of law is strong, people uphold the law not out of fear, but because they have a stake in its effectiveness.”
According to him, transparency also rests on good partnership.
Hart wants public officials to make information available, and there must be people and groups with reasons and opportunities to put information to use. He said rules and procedures should be opened to scrutiny and transparent government makes it clear what is being done, how and why actions take place, who is involved, and by what standard decisions are made.
“Citizens should harness these forces to build good governance. The state and society should be able to influence each other. Policies should respond to social realities and demands and participation should be subject of the rule of law. Accountability must be balanced by the ability authoritatively through words and actions by those that governed,” he added.
The Keynote speaker and chief launcher, Attorney Aloysius Toe, spoke on the topic, “Role of the Liberian Church in Promoting the Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability.”
Toe said the church has a cardinal role in promoting justice and human dignity. The church, he continued, has a special and dignified place in the struggle against human suffering, man-made injustices and institutional indignities, noting, “This is the occasion on which the church must rise.”
“The church has a role to speak fearlessly and insistently in terms of justice, rule of law, transparency and accountability. The church must raise her voice against growing corruption in government and take a stance against the virus. The Christian church has a role to promote reconciliation,” Toe said.
Panelists at the program recounted the advocacy of the late Archbishop Francis and that his legacy must live on, because he fought for social justice and spoke against ills in the society.
The participants included Reverends Christopher W. Toe, LCC secretary general, James T. Cooper, AEL secretary general and other distinguished church leaders.
Participants at the program commended the FJN and partners for the Archbishop Michael K. Francis Intellectual Discourse on Social Justice and Peace and pledged their unflinching support in making the program a success to keep the legacy of the late Roman Catholic Archbishop.