Pope Francis Warns Those Who Mock Religion: 'A Punch in the Nose' Awaits

Photo: Aaron Favila/AP

Pope Francis says nothing justifies the murder of Charlie Hebdo journalists, but in his first extensive, personal comments on the Jan. 7 terror attack in Paris, the pontiff warned Thursday that mocking a person’s religion is dangerous business.

Like the dangerous business of insulting his mom.

“One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” the pope told said in a press conference aboard his Vatican plane, according to the translation from Italian by the CBS News reporter traveling with him to Manila, Philippines.

But he drew an analogy between the ridicule of religion – for which the satirical Charlie Hebdo was well-known – and the ridicule of one’s mother.

If a dear friend were to utter “a swear word against my mother, he’s going to get a punch in the nose. That’s normal,” said Francis, whose mother, Regina, died in 1981, when he was 44.

“There are so many people who speak badly about religions, who make fun of them … they are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to [my dear friend] if he says a word against my mother.”

“There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity … in freedom of expression there are limits,” he added.

Still, he condemned those who retaliate with war and murder.

“One cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one s own religion,” the pope said. “To kill in the name of God is an aberration.”

As for his own safety as leader of the Catholic Church and one who seems, wherever he goes, to be greeted by massive crowds that give his papal security detail heartburn, Francis admitted to “a dose of recklessness.”

And that he is afraid of pain.

“I have said to the Lord, ‘I only want to ask you one grace; Don’t make me feel pain,’ because I am not courageous in front of pain,” he said. “I am very, very timid.”

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