By now we all know that Pope Francis very much fancies the ‘man of the people’ persona he has carved out for himself. Perhaps most of all through his off-the-cuff manner of opining on current events.
So the pope was nothing but his usual self last week when he spoke with the press loaded aboard his papal plane. In the wake of Paris’s Charlie Hebdo massacre, he said it should be clear there must be limits imposed on freedom of expression — especially when faith is the subject being targeted in our rhetorical crosshairs.
“If my good friend … says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” said Francis as he offered an imaginary thrust of his fist for effect. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. In freedom of expression there are limits.”
In his own way, Pope Francis probably intended to give a welcome sermon on Christianity 101: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you don’t, it will be hard to expect love from the world in return. We probably can’t be reminded of that enough.