Pope: When religion insulted, freedom of expression not boundless

Pope Francis waves to well-wishers as he arrives at where he will be staying in Manila on January 15, 2015. (AFP Photo/Johannes Eisele)
There are limits to freedom of expression when religion is insulted, Pope Francis has said in reference to the cartoons in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. However, he also pointed out that killing in God’s name is an "absurdity."

Francis spoke to reporters on a flight from Sri Lanka to the Philippines.

Answering questions on the Paris attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, he said that freedom of expression was a “fundamental human right” like freedom of religion, but it should be exercised “without giving offense,” the Catholic News Service reports.

One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” Francis said, adding that every religion “has its dignity.”

The Pope said that one can react violently when being offended. He offered an example, referring to his trip planner saying that if his “great friend says a swear word against my mother, then he is going to get a punch. But it’s normal, it’s normal.

However he added that “one cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion, that is, in the name of God.”

In this handout picture released by the Vatican press office (Osservatore Romano), Pope Francis (C) arrives in the Philippines in Manila on January 15, 2015. (AFP Photo/Osservatore Romano)

In the wake of the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices over its Prophet Muhammad caricatures, the satirical magazine published a record 3 million copies of its new edition Wednesday. The latest cover depicted the Prophet crying. Pope Francis was among other figures caricatured in the magazine.

The new cartoons triggered outrage among Muslims all over the world, and threats from radical Islamists.

READ MORE: ‘Act of war’: New Charlie Hebdo edition triggers Muslims’ anger, threats

In his annual foreign policy address to Vatican-based ambassadors on Monday, Pope Francis condemned the Paris attacks that killed 17 people last week.

He said they were the result of a “throwaway culture” where people and God are rejected outright.

The Pope denounced religious fundamentalism that inspired the perpetrators of the killings.

In this handout picture released by the Vatican press office (Osservatore Romano), Pope Francis (L) arrives in the Philippines in Manila on January 15, 2015. (AFP Photo/Osservatore Romano)

Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext,” he said.

Cheering crowds met Pope Francis in the capital, Manila, on Thursday as he began his first visit to Asia’s largest Catholic nation. Ahead of his visit, Manila launched one of the biggest security operations in years as previous pontiffs have been targets of assassination attempts during their visits to the country.

Francis told reporters during his flight to the Philippines that he had decided to canonize St. Joseph Vaz, a 17th- and 18th-century missionary to Sri Lanka, without going through the usual process, including verification of a second miracle attributed to the saint’s intercession.