The pope, speaking to reporters as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, made the comments in relation to an attack by Islamists on the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, known for its satirical attacks on Islam and other religions, that killed 12 people.
Francis has defended freedom of expression, but he said it was wrong to provoke others by insulting their religion and that one could “expect” a reaction to such abuse.
“You can’t provoke, you can’t insult the faith of others, you can’t make fun of faith,” he told reporters on Thursday.
By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips and was standing by his side. Francis said: “If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. ... You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. ... In freedom of expression there are limits.”
Francis, who has condemned the Paris attacks, was asked about the relationship between freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
“I think both freedom of religion and freedom of expression are both fundamental human rights,” he said, adding that he was talking specifically about the Paris killings.