Pope Francis says there are “limits to freedom of expression, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith.”
Transcript of Pope Francis’ remarks to reporters on his flight to Manila from Sri Lanka.
Lombardi: Sebastian Maillard from La Croix for the French group.
Maillard: Holy Father, yesterday at mass you spoke about religious freedom as a fundamental human right. But in the respect for the different religions, up to what point can one go in freedom of expression? That too is a fundamental human right.
Pope. Thanks for the question, it’s an intelligent one. I believe that both are fundamental human rights, religious liberty and liberty of expression. One cannot — but let’s think — you are French? Let’s go to Paris, let’s speak clearly. One cannot hide a truth: everyone has the right to practice one’s religion, one’s own religion without giving offence. Freely. That’s how we do it, we want everyone to do that. Second: One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion, that is, in the name of God. To us, that which happens now, it stuns us. But let’s think about our own history: how many wars of religion have we had? You may think of the night of St. Bartholomew; how can this be understood? We too were sinners in this. But one cannot kill in the name of God. This is an aberration. To kill in the name of God is an aberration. I believe that this is the principal point in terms of religious liberty. One has freedom in this, but without imposing or killing in the name of religion.
As for freedom of expression: each one not only has the freedom, the right but also the obligation to say what one thinks to help the common good. The obligation! Let’s think, if a member of parliament or a senator doesn’t say what he thinks is the right path then he does not collaborate for the common good. Not only these, but many others too. We have the obligation to say openly, to have this liberty, but without giving offence, because it is true, one cannot react violently. But if Dr. Gasbarri (the papal trip organizer who was standing beside him), a good friend, says a bad word against my mother, then a punch awaits him. But it’s normal, it’s normal. One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith. Pope Benedict in a speech, I don’t remember exactly where, he spoke of this post-positivist mentality, of post-positivist metaphysics, that led to the belief that in the end religions, religious expressions, are a kind of subculture, which are tolerated but are of little value, are not on the Enlightenment culture. And this is part of the heritage of the Enlightenment. And so many people who speak badly about other religions, or religions [in general], they make fun of, let’s say toy with [make into toys] other people’s religions, these people provoke and there can occur what would happen to Dr. Gasbarri if he said something against my mother. That is, there is a limit. Every religion has dignity; every religion that respects life, human life, the human person. And I cannot make fun of it. This is a limit and I have taken this sense of limit to say that in freedom of expression there are limits, like that in regard to my mother. I don’t know if I have managed to answer the question.