Pope Suggests Limits On Free Expression

Asked by a French reporter on a flight from Sri Lanka to the Philippines on Jan. 15 to compare freedom of religion and freedom of expression as human rights, Pope Francis condemned violence in the name of God but said freedom of expression should be limited by respect for religion and that mockery of faith can be expected to provoke violence. Pope Francis linked his answer to the attacks Jan. 7 at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, apparently in retaliation for the newspaper’s publication of cartoons mocking Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. “One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion, that is, in the name of God.” The pope said freedom of expression was a “fundamental human right” like freedom of religion, but one that must be exercised “without giving offense…. One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith; one cannot make fun of faith.” The pope said those who “make fun or toy with other people’s religions, these people provoke…. There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity.”

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