Francis made his decidedly anti-blasphemy, anti-free speech remarks to reporters while en route to the Philippines.
Speaking with reporters, Francis claimed to defend free speech, while at the same time claiming speech must be limited, and that insulting religious belief was off limits:
One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith. There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity … in freedom of expression there are limits.
Francis is trying to have it both ways. Francis claims to support free speech, yet once he claims religion is off limits, he abandons any notion of free speech.
Perhaps more appalling, Francis sent a mixed message about the terror attack against the French publication Charlie Hebdo.
While on the one hand Francis condemns the Islamic terror attack:
One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion — that is, in the name of God. To kill in the name of God is an aberration.
Yet on the other hand, Francis seems to justify the terrorist attack, claiming:
(if someone) says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.
Perhaps one might expect that Francis would come down against blasphemy at the expense of free speech, giving his position as head of the Catholic Church. Yet by claiming that religious belief cannot be insulted, and that insult will be met with violence, Francis seems to be offering a tacit justification for terror and violence in response to blasphemy.