Pope Francis on Free Speech: ‘There Is A Limit’

Pope Francis said Thursday that while he condemned the Charlie Hebdo attack and defended free speech as a human right, there were “limits” to the freedom of expression.

Francis unequivocally condemned the massacre of a journalists and cartoonists in Paris last week, saying such attacks in the name of God were never justified. However, he also added that one “cannot insult the faith of others,” and such insults would often lead to consequences.

“If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” said Francis (making a pretend punch). “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

“There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others,” he explained. “They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit.”

As AP reports, while the Pope made sure that his condemnation of violence was clear, he also urged the media to be respectful of religions:  

His pretend punch aside, Francis by no means said the violent attack on Charlie Hebdo was justified. Quite the opposite: He said such horrific violence in God’s name couldn’t be justified and was an “aberration.” But he said a reaction of some sort was to be expected. […]

Recently the Vatican and four prominent French imams issued a joint declaration that, while denouncing the Paris attacks, urged the media to treat religions with respect.

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