Pope Francis, who was the favorite of many progressive minded people in the world, for his positions on homosexuality and science, yesterday made a statement, which shocked most of his fans. In his first response to the Charlie Hebdo Terrorist attack, the Pope, said nothing justifies the murders, BUT “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith”. Oddly, his statements seemed to be in the same vein as some of our “liberal” voices, as we had shown earlier.
He used an analogy to further his point, where he said that, if a dear friend were to utter a “a swear word against my mother, he’s going to get a punch in the nose. That’s normal“.
He continued by saying: “There are so many people who speak badly about religions, who make fun of them … they are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to [my dear friend] if he says a word against my mother.”
In the same breath, he condemned the killings by saying, “One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s own religion,” the pope said. “To kill in the name of God is an aberration.”
This came as a big shock to most supporters of Freedom of Expression, as the statements of the Pope indicated that he felt that attacking people who criticise religions is ok! He did say murder was not justified, so does the Pope think that any other form of violence other than Murder is fine? Will this statement will be a source of support to all religious extremists all over the world? especially the terrorist killers of Charlie Hebdo journalists?
Going by this logic, Hindutva elements are left with no choice but to “punch in the faces” of Christian missionaries and evangelists, who are routinely accused of showing Hindu Gods and Goddesses as less powerful and fake.
This statement will make life hard for the followers of the Pope, since he is certainly not any “fringe” element, but the worldwide head of their religion. The Vatican immediately went into damage control by issuing a statement that the Pope’s words were “in no way intended to be interpreted as justification for the violence and terror that took place in Paris last week.” Again, this clarification only says the Pope doesn’t justify killing, but his “punch for my mother” analogy suggests that he supports other forms of physical violence, as a counter to verbal abuse.
Not surprisingly, some Catholic organizations came out and said that they fully subscribe to the Pope’s view. One such organization called the “Catholic League”, posted these views of their President, Bill Donohue, on their site:
Bill has already been criticised heavily for his views which sided with Charlie Hebdo terrorists and blamed the cartoonists for their own death. If more such extremist views arise after this, the Pope will certainly have to answer some more tough questions.
This also shows that the representatives of two major religions of the world, Christianity and Islam, are somehow still struggling to come to terms with the modern ideas of Free Speech. Not only that, they are even willing to legitimize “limited use of force”, which is certainly a cause for concern.
It is pertinent to note that the Pope too has been the target of Charlie Hebdo satire in the past. And now with his latest controversial remark, it is very likely, he will soon grace the cover of this French Magazine again!