The Vatican has accused the French satirical magazine of insulting religious people of all faiths by portraying God as a as a gun-toting terrorist on an anniversary cover.
The Guardian reports that the Vatican’s newspaper, Osservatore Romano, this week slammed the cover of an issue published to mark the first anniversary of a terrorist attack on the publication’s offices in which 12 people died.
A million copies of the special edition hit France’s newsstands today with a cover featuring a bearded man representing God with a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder, accompanied by the text:
One year on: the assassin is still out there.
In a commentary, the Vatican daily said treatment of religion in this manner “is not new” – and stressed that religious figures have repeatedly condemned violence in the name of God.
Behind the deceptive flag of uncompromising secularism, the weekly is forgetting once more what religious leaders of every faith unceasingly repeat to reject violence in the name of religion – using God to justify hatred is a genuine blasphemy, as pope Francis has said several times.
The commentary added:
The special edition marks a year since brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi burst into Charlie Hebdo’s offices in eastern Paris and killed 12 people, including eight of the magazine’s staff.
In Charlie Hebdo’s choice, there is the sad paradox of a world which is more and more sensitive about being politically correct, almost to the point of ridicule, yet does not wish to acknowledge or to respect believers’ faith in God, regardless of the religion.
Its staff had also been under police protection since it published cartoons of the “prophet” Mohammed in 2006.
A week after the Charlie Hebdo attack, Pope Francis condemned killing in God’s name but warned religion could not be insulted. “To kill in the name of God is an absurdity,” Francis told reporters on the papal plane on an Asian tour.
While defending freedom of expression, he also cautioned “each religion has its dignity” and said:
There are limits. If a good friend speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched, and that’s normal. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people’s faith, you cannot mock it.