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After Paris Attacks, Pope Speaks Against Insulting Others' Religions

  • VOA News

On Thursday, Pope Francis condemned any killing in God's name, defended freedom of expression, but insisted that other people's religion could not be insulted or mocked.

The pope, speaking to reporters as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, made the comments in relation to an attack by Islamists on the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, known for its satirical attacks on Islam and other religions, that killed 12 people.

Francis has defended freedom of expression, but he said it was wrong to provoke others by insulting their religion and that one could “expect” a reaction to such abuse.

“You can't provoke, you can't insult the faith of others, you can't make fun of faith,” he told reporters Thursday.

Watch related video of VOA's Jason Strother

'You cannot provoke'

By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips and was standing by his side. Francis said: "If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It's normal. ... You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. ... In freedom of expression there are limits.”

Francis, who has condemned the Paris attacks, was asked about the relationship between freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

“I think both freedom of religion and freedom of expression are both fundamental human rights,” he said, adding that he was talking specifically about the Paris killings.

“Everyone has not only the freedom and the right, but the obligation to say what he thinks for the common good. ... We have the right to have this freedom openly without offending,” he said, according to Reuters.

Referring to past religious wars, such as the Crusades sanctioned by the Catholic Church against Islam, the Pope said: "Let's consider our own history. How many wars of religion have we had? Even we were sinners, but you can't kill in the name of God. That is an aberration."

Some material for this report came from Reuters, AP and AFP.

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