“Zealous pastor”: Catholic Archbishop in Angola Eulogized for “selfless service to Church”

Late Archbishop Francisco Viti. Credit: Huambo Archdiocese

The late Archbishop Francisco Viti who died at the age of 89 on April 15 in Angola’s Huambo Archdiocese has been eulogized as “a zealous Pastor” and a “selfless” servant of the people of God.

The Angolan-born Catholic Archbishop who had been at the helm of Huambo Archdiocese from September 1986 till his retirement in July 2003 died at the “Cardinal Alexandre de Nascimento Cardiopulmonary Hospital, in Luanda, at 7:50 pm, after fighting for his life, as the result of a car accident that occurred last February,” the Local Ordinary of Huambo Archdiocese has said in a statement.

In the statement issued April 15, Archbishop Zeferino Zeca Martins says, “In a moment like this, all of us Christians, of our Archdiocese of Huambo and beyond, keep in communion of prayers before the Lord of Life, in favor of the one who was our Archbishop emeritus, so that he may rest in peace.”

Archbishop Zeca further says, “Organizational aspects of his funeral ceremonies will be announced in due course.”

On February 19, the 89-year-old Catholic Church leader was involved in a road accident, when the car he was driving overturned. He was returning from a pastoral visit in the Diocese of Menongue in Cuando Cubango Province, Southeastern Angola.


He suffered serious injuries and was immediately transferred to the Cardinal Alexandre do Nascimento Cardio-Pulmonary Hospital Complex, where, two days later, he underwent craniotomy, the surgery of the brain. 

In a statement issued April 15, members of the Bishops' Conference of Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe (CEAST) express “deep sorrow with the passing unto glory” of Archbishop Viti.

“We thank him for the selfless service he rendered to the Church where he offered his knowledge and experience as a zealous pastor,” CEAST members say in their condolence message.

They address to the bereaved family and the Archdiocese of Huambo their “sincere and deepest feelings of regret and invite Christians to pray for his eternal rest.”

In a Monday, April 17 statement, Bishop Pio Hipunyati of Angola’s Ondjiva Diocese describes Archbishop Viti “as a pioneer of Christian faith in Angola.”

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“Archbishop Viti is part of the restricted group of the first Bishops of Angolan nationality that made the transition to national independence,” Bishop Hipunyati says.

Bishop Hipunyati further says that the late Archbishop “was one of the few men who worked in the proclamation of faith, without fear defended the religious ideology in the most difficult times of the country and in a time when the existence of God was not believed.”

“It was thanks to the work and tenacity of this great figure of the first generation of Angolan bishops, that the church in Angola remains solid,” the 58-year-old Local Ordinary of Angola’s Ondjiva Diocese says.

He recalls that Archbishop Viti “was the first Bishop of the Diocese of Menongue, serving God for many decades, working in the formation of many generations of missionaries, configuring an indelible mark in Angolan society.”

“The present moment is of gratitude to God for having given a great shepherd, alerting the Church, the faithful and all people of good will to honor and put into practice the teachings that he left behind,” Bishop Hipunyati says.


Members of the church community of Huambo have also expressed their deep sadness following the news of the demise of the Angolan Archbishop.

“The feeling of sadness involves the whole Archdiocese, taking into account the way the death of the Bishop happened,” the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Huambo, Fr. Constantino Kamwango, has been quoted as saying.

Despite his age, Fr. Kamwango says the late Archbishop Viti “still had many years at the service of the Gospel.”

“The ecclesial community was counting a lot on his effort and wisdom, because in spite of being emeritus, he was carrying out his normal activities and energetically assisting Archbishop Zeca Martins, in several religious activities,” adds the Chancellor of Huambo Archdiocese.

Born in Misasa - Evanga, Benguela Province, Archbishop Viti was ordained a Priest in July 1963. He was appointed Bishop of Menongue in August 1975, where he served until September 1986 when he was appointed Archbishop of Huambo.

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In a Monday, April 17 condolence message shared on Facebook, the leadership of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) describes the late Archbishop as a “a worthy Shepherd of his Flock, an Angolan of easy handling, an intellectual exponent of wise advice, man of deep wisdom, a human defender of our Idiosyncrasy, humble Catholic leader who never abandoned his Archdiocese even in the crucial and difficult moments that Huambo met.”

“Your valuable contributions to the liberation, democratization and reconciliation of our Country will remain alive in the History of Angola,” Mr. Adalberto Costa Junior says in the statement.

Archbishop Viti’s death, Mr. Costa Junior says, “represents a hard blow not only to the Catholic Church, to the Huambo Provinces and others where he worked, but also to all of Angola, for which he served throughout his missionary career.”

“I address my deepest condolences to the Catholic Church and the bereaved family, praying that God Almighty powerful may he comfort the torn souls of Angola,” he adds.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.