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    Pope Francis (centre L) walks alongside new Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (centre R) during a welcoming ceremony at Bandaranaike International Airport

    Pope Francis Defends Freedom of Speech, but Urges Not to Make Fun of Faith

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    Pope Francis has commented on the attacks at the office of Charlie Hebdo, defending the freedom of speech and expression, but adding that there should be limits and that people should refrain from insulting and ridiculing someone's faith.

    MOSCOW, January 15 (Sputnik) — Pope Francis has urged there should be limits to freedom of speech and expression when it comes to ridiculing someone’s faith, according to an Associated Press report.

    The Pontiff said free speech is "a right and a duty that must be displayed without offending", and that people should feel obliged to speak their minds for the sake of the common good.

    "If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch", the agency quotes Pope Francis as saying as he threw a pretend punch in the direction of his associate. "It's normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others."

    Pope Francis and His Flyaway Vestments
    © Fotobank.ru/Getty Images / Franco Origlia
    His comments come while en route to the Philippines, the next destination of his Asian tour.

    "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," he said. "They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit."

    Recently the Vatican and four prominent French imams issued a joint declaration denouncing the attacks but also urging the media to treat religions with respect.

    Francis insisted that it was an "aberration" to kill in the name of God and said religion can never be used to justify violence.

    He also said he was concerned primarily for the faithful, and said he had spoken to Vatican security officials who are taking "prudent and secure measures."

    "I am worried, but you know I have a defect: a good dose of carelessness. I'm careless about these things," he said. But he admitted that in his prayers, he had asked that if something were to happen to him that "it doesn't hurt, because I'm not very courageous when it comes to pain. I'm very timid."

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