Posts Tagged 'Pope Francis'

Pope Francis, Freedom of Speech, and Love

pope

I didn’t have time to write about it when it happened, but I was quite impressed by the Pope’s comments concerning freedom of speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. Basically, he said that there must be limits to what we say or depict, and that perhaps deriding someone’s deeply held faith should be one of those limits. No, he didn’t condone the killings in Paris, but he took a decidedly Jesus-like attitude toward the whole thing. Here is the Wall Street Journal’s story on it:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-francis-sees-limits-to-freedom-of-speech-1421325757

Think of it this way, is making fun of anyone really a loving thing to do? What if it hurts people to do it? In the Charlie Hebdo case, the cartoons led not only to killings in Paris, but also to a variety of politicians saying that we should root out radical Islamists and kill them. Everything surrounding the decision to run the cartoons seems to have led only to a focus on killing other people, and that simply cannot be squared with anything taught by Jesus Christ.

Sure, we allow freedom of expression in America, and so we allow people to get away with tons of horrible and hurtful things in the name of the First Amendment because we are “Americans.” But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have some self-restraint.

In another story, the group Reporters Without Borders said that the Pope’s statements were dangerous, and that limits to freedom of expression should never be set by religious leaders. Well, I disagree. By following Jesus, I often have to refrain from things that may be within my rights to do, but that would hurt people, and thus would not reflect God’s love. Everyone has a choice, and I simply choose to follow Jesus. He limits my secular freedoms every day, and I am better for it.

A couple of weeks ago, Face the Nation host Bob Shieffer said that he likes Pope Francis because he often reminds us that religion is about kindness. And so Shieffer, a self-described “strong” defender of the First Amendment, nonetheless ended his show by saying that the Pope’s comments about freedom of expression remind us that “there is a difference in having the right to do something and doing the right thing.” I think Jesus would agree.

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