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Pope Francis on Freedom of Speech: 'One Cannot Make Fun of Faith'

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MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis suggested there are limits to freedom of expression, saying in response to the Charlie Hebdo terror attack that “one cannot make fun of faith” and that anyone who throws insults can expect a "punch."

The pontiff said that both freedom of faith and freedom of speech were fundamental human rights and that “every religion has its dignity.”

“One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” he said. "There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity ... in freedom of expression there are limits."

The pope was speaking to reporters on a plane as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines on his tour of Asia.

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The right to liberty of expression comes with the "obligation" to speak for "the common good," Pope Francis said, cautioning against provocation.

To illustrate his point, he joked about Vatican aide Alberto Gasparri who was standing nearby on the plane.

"It's true that we can’t react violently, but, for example if Dr. Gasbarri here, a great friend of mine, says a curse word against my mother, then a punch awaits him," the pontiff said.

He was answering a question about freedom of expression amid controversy over the publication of a special edition of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo featuring a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad.

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- Claudio Lavanga and Alastair Jamieson

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