15 January 2015, The Tablet

Do not offend religions – freedom of speech has limits, says Francis

Pope Francis has defended the right of freedom of speech but warned against offending other religions.

Speaking to journalists aboard the papal plane to the Philippines, Francis stated clearly that one “cannot kill in the name of God” when asked by a French journalist about the murders by Islamic fundamentalists of 12 people at the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris last week. The magazine has printed provocative images of the Prophet Muhammad.

He explained, however, that: "One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith," adding that every religion has “its dignity”.

By way of an example, Pope Francis said that if someone were to insult his mother they could “expect a punch”.

Speaking about the three days of terrorist violence that took place in France, he added: “Let’s go to Paris, let’s speak clearly.”

He was also asked about the threat to his own life posed by Islamic extremists, who have talked about seeking to capture Rome.

"The best way to respond is always meekness," he said but pointed out he is “truly worried” about the safety of large number of Catholics who attend papal audiences at the Vatican.

"On this, I have spoken with Vatican security, who are charged with solving this," he said.

He even revealed his personal prayers to God about threats to his life.

“I have said to the Lord, don’t make me suffer pain. I am not courageous in front of pain. I am very, very timid.”

Photo: CNS

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