Occasionally, a Pope comes around who truly sounds as if the wizened cardinals in the Sistine Chapel were inspired by a Holy Spirit when he was chosen. And Pope Francis is one of them. He is a true beacon and a fantastic innovator. If he can give—figuratively of course—the Curia and some other top boys the middle finger, then wow, this guy is a super-hero.
But, as with most heroes, sometimes they dive from up above to the levels of humans.
The West, and most liberal, democratic and secular countries, were horrifically traumatised by the killings of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in Paris. Everyone, except the demented and the murderous, condemned this horrible murder. The Pope did so too, in no uncertain or roundabout way. So God—and Allah in case that One is listening—be praised.
But the Pope, head of the biggest or one of the biggest organisations in the world, went beyond condemning the murderers. He declared that it is horrid to kill, however there is always a limit to freedom of expression.
I believe that if you do not violate any law then you can say what the hell—or heaven—you want. About anything from prophets to church profits to Christ and wacky sects or astrology.
You can mock, you can belittle, you can lampoon and you can expect to receive much of the same yourself. Unless you incite or cause harm or break laws you are free to do all you wish. And no one is allowed to attack you physically for it.
But the Pope has stated that there is a limit to how much one can insult or ridicule faiths. He mentioned as an example that if Signor Gasparri, his own tour-organiser, insulted his—the Pope’s—mother, he would thump him. He said this in jest but I am quite astounded that he actually said this. With his example, he is saying that if a faith is ridiculed enough, the offended can be expected to retaliate. So, by taking this to an extreme, the murderers can easily say they were so offended that they slapped them in a more gruesome manner and felt they had to execute the perpetrators.
The mother mentioned by the Pope is surely a good symbol of the Church. This Pope has charisma by the bucketloads and he made the ones around him laugh but his words about freedom of expression are terribly wrong, especially at these momentous times.
Of course he is free to say whatever he wishes and I will, even if I’m given the chance, never punch him for his silliness.
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