Pope Francis Says Provocative Cartoons Are Like Insulting Someone’s Mother

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Pope Francis waves to the faithful upon his arrivalin Manila city on January 15, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. Pope Francis will visit venues across Leyte and Manila during his visit to the Philippines from January 15 - 19. The visit is expected to attract crowds in the millions as Filipino Catholics flock to catch a glimpse of the leader of the Catholic Church in the Philippines for the first time since 1995. The Pope will begin the tour in Manila, then travelling to Tacloban to visit areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan before returning to Manila to hold a mass at Rizal Park. The Philippines is the only Catholic majority nation in Asia with around 90 percent of the population professing the faith.
Photo: Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

The coolest pontiff in recent memory may not judge us common sinners, but he sure has some strong words for the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo: Just because you can insult someone’s faith, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Good thing it looks like most of them were lapsed Catholics, anyway.

If my good friend Dr. [Alberto] Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said on his way to the Philippines Thursday, referring to the papal trip organizer. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

Charlie Hebdo, the magazine attacked last week for publishing caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, is an equal-opportunity offender. Though its work is punctuated by a particularly strong current of Islamophobia, Jesus and the Catholic Church were also frequent targets:

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Last week, the Vatican joined with four French imams to condemn the attack. Their statement said that “the world is in danger without freedom of expression,” but urged the media to consider respecting the faiths of others while exercising that right. The pope’s Thursday statements fell along similar lines, and he condemned the attack as an “aberration.”

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 said. “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.”