The Pope defends freedom of speech but says, “You cannot make fun of the faith of others,” according to the Guardian. Overall, Pope Francis has been a huge improvement over the last pope, but he has come out completely on the wrong side of this issue. Making fun of religious faith is easy. It’s s rich target. It is also legally permitted in most places, as it should be. It is also a longstanding tradition of most faiths, including Christianity and Judaism, to mock the faith of others. (See 1 Kings 18:20-29, Matthew 23:27, and Luke 11:42)
Not only can it be done, it should be done. If an institution, religious or otherwise, is above criticism, then there come to be no restraints on what it may do. Then we end up with wars, witch hunts, slavery, and all the other ills that humans are capable of. Ridicule and satire alone will not prevent those evils, but without those verbal weapons there is no hope of standing up against tyranny. Religion cannot be exempt from criticism, for it can be as tyrannical as any government.
There are legitimate boundaries on freedom of expression, of course. One is not allowed to slander individuals or incite violence, but hurt feelings is not a valid reason to limit free speech. I would hope that Pope Francis reconsiders his defence of religious censorship. He seems to be a reasonable man. Perhaps he will see that his statement gives cover to those who want to justify violent acts of vengeance.