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“One cannot provoke; one cannot insult other people’s faith; one cannot make fun of faith,” the Catholic leader said on the day another cartoonist victim of the Charlie Hebdo attacks was buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery.

The pope has garnered a reputation for level-headedness among nonreligious people for criticizing capitalism, speaking in support of social justice and saying he’ll formally urge the world’s Catholics to work immediately to address climate change.

But his remarks quoted above and below, which seem to contradict the Christian messiah’s instruction to turn the other cheek when insulted or attacked, threaten to tarnish that favorable image.

To the pope’s insistence that “one cannot make fun of faith,” columnist Polly Toynbee responded at The Guardian:

Oh yes, you can. You may not choose to. It may not be wise or polite or kind – but you can. And to show you can, without being gunned down, Charlie Hebdo has just gone on sale in the UK, in bolder outlets, proudly defiant with an image of Muhammad on the cover – though with a tear and a kindly thought: “All is forgiven.”

The pope pointed to his aide as he said “If my good friend Dr Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

No, it’s not normal to punch someone who insults you; the pope’s Christ certainly didn’t think so. Verbal provocation is never an excuse for violence – that’s the wife-beater’s defence.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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