Vatican spokesman: Francis wasn’t justifying Charlie Hebdo attack

Pope Francis was not in any way condoning the attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in his comments Thursday about the limits of freedom of expression, a Vatican spokesman has clarified.

Father Thomas Rosica issued a statement in which he said the Pope’s comments were “in no way intended to be interpreted as a justification for the violence and terror that took place in Paris last week.”

During an in-flight press conference as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, Pope Francis answered a question from a French journalist about religious freedom and free expression. While stating that “one cannot kill in the name of God,” the Pontiff also said, “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.” Speaking of one of the papal trip’s organizers, Francis explained, “If Dr. Gasbarri, a good friend, says a bad word against my mother, then a punch awaits him. But it’s normal, it’s normal” (the full text of the Holy Father’s press conference can be read here).

Father Rosica’s statement reads:

The Pope’s expression is in no way intended to be interpreted as a justification for the violence and terror that took place in Paris last week.  The Pope’s words about Dr. Gasbarri were spoken colloquially and in a friendly, intimate matter among colleagues and friends on the journey.  His words mean that there are limits to humor and satire particularly in the ways that we speak about matters of faith and belief. Pope Francis’ response might be similar to something each of us has felt when those dearest to us are insulted or harmed. The Pope’s free style of speech, especially in situations like the press conference must be taken at face value and not distorted or manipulated.  The Pope has spoken out clearly against the terror and violence that occurred in Paris and in other parts of the world. Violence begets violence.  Pope Francis has not advocated violence with his words on the flight.


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.