Pope Francis on Freedom of Speech: ‘One Cannot Make Fun of Faith’

By Claudio Lavanga and Alastair Jamieson | 15 January 2015
NBC News

Pope Francis says there must be limits to free speech when it comes to religion, speaking in reference to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris last week. (Photo: Getty Images)

Pope Francis suggested there are limits to freedom of expression, saying in response to the Charlie Hebdo terror attack that “one cannot make fun of faith” and that anyone who throws insults can expect a “punch.”

The pontiff said that both freedom of faith and freedom of speech were fundamental human rights and that “every religion has its dignity.”

“One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” he said. “There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity … in freedom of expression there are limits.”

The pope was speaking to reporters on a plane as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines on his tour of Asia.

The right to liberty of expression comes with the “obligation” to speak for “the common good,” Pope Francis said, cautioning against provocation.

To illustrate his point, he joked about Vatican aide Alberto Gasparri who was standing nearby on the plane.

“It’s true that we can’t react violently, but, for example if Dr. Gasbarri here, a great friend of mine, says a curse word against my mother, then a punch awaits him,” the pontiff said.

He was answering a question about freedom of expression amid controversy over the publication of a special edition of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo featuring a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Really, yer Popeship?

    Watch me.

    Maybe you fear criticism in any form, and maybe you should, but your fears do not equate with my silence.

  2. We all have a moral responsibility to ridiculule ridiculous claims. What can be more ridiculous than claiming a belief based on the absence of a rational reason ?

  3. Bullshit, I can, do, and will continue to make fun of religious people’s idiotic faith. In 2015 faith in bronze age myths is not only harmful to modern society, it’s just plain stupid, and humanists like me will not tolerate such foolishness.

  4. I have a lot a respect for Pope Francis, but I disagree with him on this. We must be able to criticize religious beliefs. Moreover, it's important that we do so. When religion is allowed unchallengeable power, it always leads to suffering and death.

  5. Jorge (aka: Papa Francis)'s own Rule Book (i.e, the Bible) says flatly that I – ANYONE for that matter who says there is no god – am a FOOL (cf: Ps 14:1, & 53:1). Seems turnabout is fair play!!

    If he's willing to aver the geezer what inspired deez lines is an error prone bully… well, I might reconsider my thoughts on not dissing religion(s).

    PS. Oh, btw… whoever it is what come up wid those lines of prose in Ps 14 & 53, is apparently in "danger of the fire of hell!" (cf: Matt. 5:22) Now wouldn't THAT be Karma?!

  6. What is so special about an opinion about religion. Why should it be afforded special circumstances that no other human dialogue is allowed. The youtube video below goes into detail why religions do not deserve respect and it is done in a clear and reasonable manner, especially for those special snowflakes who get bend out of shape when religion is criticized. Give it a watch and attempt to rebut the points that it makes, if you can that it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_5yUXjXizQ

  7. If we let the delusional lead the world, they will hold us back in the first century. Science is our best guess at what the universe is and we would not be as advanced without it.

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