Death has once again hit our subregion. Information reaching the head office of RECOW-CERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA in Abidjan, the capital city of Ivory Coast indicates that our subregion has lost a great man who loomed a giant in both the religious and social world. he was a Catholic Archbishop Known for Freedom, Democracy Advocacy in Togo and Africa at large.

Our Correspondent in Lome wrote that Archbishop Philippe Fanoko Kossi Kpodzro, who has been known for freedom and democracy advocacy in Togo has passed on in Sweden, where he had fled following the West African nation’s controversial 2020 presidential election. He was aged 93.

Archbishop Kpodzro died in the early hours of Tuesday, January 9, the President of the Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET), Bishop Benoît Alowonou, has announced in a statement.

While waiting to provide information on his funeral, CET members invite the people of God to “pray that the Lord will welcome him into his kingdom.”

Since he retired in 2007, Archbishop Kpodzro had been committed to the Togolese opposition, to realize freedom and democratic change in the West African nation, change he so ardently desired, but which he was unable to witness, according to media reports.

Born in March 1930 in Tomégbé in Togo’s Catholic Diocese of Kpalimé, the late Archbishop Kpodzro was ordained a Priest in December 1959 in Rome.

As a Priest, he served as Professor of Philosophy at St. Peter Claver Minor Seminary in Lomé and was later named Spiritual Director and Professor of Greek-Latin-English at the Togolese Seminary.

Between 1965 and 1972, he served as Rector of St. Paul Minor Seminary in Atakpamé and later as National Delegate of Togolese Priests and Secretary General of the Permanent Secretariat of African Clergy.

In December 1975, the late Catholic Church leader was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Atakpamé and assigned the Titular See of Bacanaria

He was appointed Bishop of Atakpamé in April 1976 and ordained a Bishop the following month.

In December 1992, he was appointed Archbishop of Lomé, a position he held until his retirement in June 2007 at the age of 77.

The late Archbishop Emeritus of Lomé played an important role in Togo’s political history.

He served as President of the National Assembly for two and a half years, from August 1991 to February 1994.

Late Archbishop Kpodzro was later asked to head the Sovereign National Conference from 1 July to 28 August 1991. This appointment was offered to him after several other Bishops had refused. As a result, he was taken hostage by the military for two days on October 22 and 23, 1992.

Subsequently, Archbishop Kpodzro was appointed President of the Provisional National Assembly from August 1991 to February 1994. Under his leadership, the High Council of the Republic (HCR) led to the Constitution of the Fourth Republic in October 1992, limiting the presidential term to two for five years, renewable only once.

Following the death of President Gnassingbé Eyadema in 2005, the late Archbishop, along with other clerics and the Bar Association, organized a peaceful march in an attempt to resolve the country’s crisis.

He became vocal in condemning dictatorship, mismanagement, embezzlement of public funds, and human rights violations in Togo.

In December 2019, the late Archbishop Kpodzro launched an operation to solicit funds to support a single Presidential Candidate in Togo’s General Elections.

When preliminary results of the 22 February 2020 presidential elections in the West African nation were announced declaring the incumbent winner with a landslide, the late Archbishop called on citizens in Togo to reject the results, terming them a “tasteless joke.”

He called for a peaceful demonstration to claim victory for his preferred candidate, Agbéyomé Kodjo.

“I make a solemn and vibrant appeal to all Togolese to mobilize themselves to thwart this grotesque maneuver worthy of a long bygone era,” the late Archbishop said.