Rorate Caeli

The Pope speaks on freedom to blaspheme: "If a close friend insulted your mother, you might punch him, right?"

In his airplane interview in the flight taking him from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, Pope Francis commented on the limits of freedom of speech:

[Question] Yesterday morning, during mass, you spoke of religious liberty as a fundamental human right. With respect to the different religions, up to what point can we go in terms of freedom of speech, that also is a fundamental human right?

[Pope:] Thank you for this intelligent question! I believe that they are both fundamental human rights: religious freedom and freedom of speech. We are French, right? Well, then, let's go Paris, let's speak clearly. We cannot hide a truth today: each one has the right to practice his religion, without causing offense, freely, and we all wish to do this.

Secondly, we cannot offend, make war, kill, in the name of religion, that is, in the name of God.

That which is happening today surprises us, but let us always think of our history: how many wars of religion have we known! Think only of the Night of Saint Bartholomew [St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre]! How can we understand that. We also have had our sinners regarding this, but we cannot murder in the name of God, it's an aberration. To murder in the name of God is an aberration. I believe that is the main thing on religious liberty: we must practice it in liberty, without causing offense, but without imposing or murdering.

Freedom of speech...Each person has not only the freedom, the right but also the obligation to say what he thinks to aid the common good: the obligation! If we think that what a member of parliament or a Senator says - and not only they, but so many others - is not the good path, that he does not collaborate wirh the common good, we have the obligation of saying it openly. This freedom is necessary, but without offending. Because it is true that one should not react violently, but if Mr. Gasbarri [note: voyage planner, standing beside the pope], who is a great friend, says a swear word about my mother, he can expect to receive a punch! It's normal... We cannot provoke, we cannot insult the faith of others, we cannot mock faith.

Pope Benedict, in an address I cannot recall well [note: the Regensburg address] had spoken of this post-positivist mindset, of this post-positivist metaphysics that led, in the end, to believe that all religions, or all religious expressions, are a kind of sub-culture: they are tolerated, but they are irrelevant, they are not in the culture of the Enlightenment. This is a legacy of the Enlightenment.

There are so many people who speak ill of religions, who mock them, who play with the religion of others. They provoke...and it can happen that which could happen to Mr. Gasbarri if he said anything about my mother. There is a limit! Each religion has dignity, each religion that respects human life and man, and I cannot mock's a limit. I take the example of the limit to say that, in the matter of the freedom of speech, there are limits, as in the case of my mother.

[I-média, the French language religious news agency, made this part of the papal interview available now, before the official Vatican text - our translation. / Tip: FC-Ennemond.]