Does Pope Francis Stand for Freedom of Speech?

Does Pope Francis Stand for Freedom of Speech?

Does Pope Francis Stand for Freedom of Speech?

Before I proceed any further, a little self-disclosure is needed.

I am not Catholic. I am a lifelong member of the conservative Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. However, I consider myself a Christian first, and as such I regard members of the Roman Catholic church to be fellow Christians, even though we may disagree on some issues of theology. Furthermore, my husband and I chose to send our children to a Catholic high school, and our eldest daughter is married to a Catholic.

I have admired the intellect of Pope Benedict and the courageous life of Pope John Paul II; indeed, along with President Reagan, Pope John Paul helped to bring the Soviet Union to its knees.

I must, however, wonder about the judgment of Pope Francis.


On a trip to Manila in the Philippines, the Pope was asked by a French journalist if there were limits to freedom of speech when it came to religion. The Pope answered:

“There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others. They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri (his aide) if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit.”

You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

Is Pope Francis claiming that free speech should be curtailed when it comes to religion? Is he applying this to all people, or only to members of his flock? 

Pope Francis was not alone in his admonition to refrain from insulting religion. Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II echoed Francis’s remarks when he said, separately from the Pope:

“I refuse any form of personal insult, and when the insult is related to religions, they cannot be approved, neither at a human, nor at a moral and social level. They do not help the peace in the world, and do not produce any benefit.”

British author Salman Rushdie disagrees. Rushdie, as you recall, lived under the threat of a fatwa issued against him for his book The Satanic Verses. The fatwa was lifted in 1998.

In a speech recently given at the University of Vermont, Rushdie said:

“The moment somebody says, ‘I believe in free speech, but,’ I stop listening. ‘I believe in free speech, but people should behave themselves. I believe in free speech, but we shouldn’t upset anybody. I believe in free speech, but let’s not go too far.’”

I believe, though, that this issue goes beyond free speech. In the world of fundamentalist Islam, the very existence of any belief system other than Islam is blasphemy.

One of my favorite pundits, the Jewish writer Daniel Greenfield, points out:

“For non-Muslims, the right to blasphemy is also the right to believe. While we may think of blasphemy in terms of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, each religion is also mutually blasphemous.”

“Muslims argue that the West should “respect prophets” by outlawing insults to Mohammed and a panoply of prophets that it gathered from Judaism and Christianity. But Islam considers the Christian view of Jesus to be blasphemous and Christianity considers Islam’s view of Jesus equally blasphemous.”

So while Pope Francis worries about the insults leveled by Charlie Hebdo at Muslims, he fails to understand that the very fact that he exists as a Christian leader is an insult and a blasphemy to Islam. Likewise, any of us who reject the tenets of Islam are insulting Muslims and committing blasphemy. Islamists are outraged at more than just our speech; they are angry that we refuse to acknowledge the superiority of their religion over all other things. Does Pope Francis recognize this?

Pope John Paul II stood strong in the face of Communism. I am concerned that Pope Francis is not as stalwart in the face of Islamic terror. He may not be the head of my church, but he is a leader of my faith. Will he stand strong for all Christians and all our freedoms, especially the freedom to live apart from Islamism?

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

  • Appalled By The World says:

    What we need is a pope who will actually insult the “religion of peace” by calling it what it really is-a totalitarian philosophy bent on world domination with a religious veneer. It is that thin veneer that has kept the West from waging a true war on terror by fooling far too many people, including the heads of legitimate religions and people who don’t believe in any religion at all. Being 1400 years old it can be viewed as the mother of all the other horrible “-isms” that have plagued mankind- communism, socialism, nazism, fascism. If anybody thinks otherwise we can look at the one figure left from history that most everybody agrees was a monster of epic proportions-Adolf Hitler. Der Fuhrer had nothing but great things to say about Islamania and was good friends with Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti during the war (who in turn had a close relationship with the father of modern terrorism Yassir Arafat)-what does THAT tell us about the “religion of peace”?

  • Penny says:

    You nailed it, Appalled!!

    Francis is from South America where Liberation Theology, which is quite Socialistic, has run rampant for decade. John Paul II deplored it, and chastised priests who embraced it. Francis is looking very much like a Liberation Theologist and an appeaser. YOU CANNOT APPEASE ISLAM……..PERIOD!!! You just lose more and look weaker when you try, driving this centuries old, and extremely backward, government system with a religious cover to more and harder attacks. What part of “convert or die” do these SocioCommunists not understand?!?!?

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