Charlie Hebdo, Pope Francis and the The Sanctity of Life

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Pope Francis has made numerous announcements indicating the progressive way he leads one of the world’s largest religious denominations, the Catholics.

However, after the tragic events in Paris where the cartoonists and editors of Charlie Hebdo were brutally murdered by terrorists (responsibility claimed by al-Qaeda in Yemen,) he reportedly made the statement that “You can’t provoke, you can’t insult the faith of others, you can’t make fun of faith.” (CBC News)

This is one of the first proclamations of the new Pope that I disagree with. If one’s faith is so vulnerable that a comment can shake it, perhaps it needs to be revisited. It has been said that each of us makes a choice to be insulted or offended when it comes to non-tangible beliefs.

A week or so after the killings in Paris the Daily Mail ran an article with the headline, “Hang the Cartoonists!’ Pakistani Muslims Demand Death Sentence for Charlie Hebdo Staff for Committing ‘Worst Act of Terrorism’ by Drawing the Prophet Mohammed.”

To Western minds, reacting to comments and cartoons in a savage, brutal fashion appears to be backward and regressive. If the sensitivities of believers were directed toward the love and acceptance that religious dogma professes, insulting the faith of others would be non-issue. Perhaps Pope Francis and other religious leaders could deliver this message, human lives over-ride any thought or belief we may harbour.

Where do we draw the line? When does satire become bullying? It is okay to ridicule as long as it isn’t about religion? When does the imposition of one’s belief on others become tyrannical?

My prayer for us all is one of acceptance … acceptance of each other, acceptance of our differences … acceptance of the sanctity of life.

Add your thoughts to the comments below so we can create a dialogue on this issue.

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