To make things crystal clear, Pope Francis has roundly, unequivocally and vociferously condemned the murders at Charlie Hebdo and indeed, all wanton loss of life. It is at best disingenuous and probably mischievous of your anonymous correspondent to suggest otherwise.
Many people, within and outside the ranks of the Catholic church, believe Pope Francis to be a breath of fresh air and a massively influential figure in the pursuit of justice and truth. Yes, he is different – he refuses to condemn same-sex relationships on one hand and on the other hand suggests heaven would not be heaven without those pets that provide so much comfort to so many. Meanwhile, he shuns luxury and embraces the poor – my, he appears almost Christ-like – I wonder who inspires him?
I confess, well, I am of his flock, that when he made the comment alluded to by your correspondent “If you insult my mother, you can expect a punch”, it surprised me and made me think. To many Muslims, the act of insulting the prophet is just like insulting the Pope’s mother (or perhaps more hurtful). To what ends then is it done? Is it a form of discrimination, or is it free speech? Maybe the more relevant question is what does it achieve?
The Pope is a red-blooded Latin male from the Barria and, just like the average Italian or Spanish male, puts just two women on a pedestal – one is his mother and the other is the madonna – you would insult either at your peril. Would you insult the average British male’s mother, wife or daughter with impunity? I think not!
If satirical magazines wish to lambast anyone in the Muslim world, maybe they should bring themselves up to date and target the extremists of Iran and more topically, Saudi Arabia, a country we kowtow to, which is both the biggest producer of oil in the world and one of the most repressive. Beheadings, amputations, floggings, torture and women caught driving charged with terrorism (ok, they might have a point there). Still, instead of cutting ties with them, we flog them a few fighter planes and turn a blind eye, even though it was largely their citizens who carried out the 911 attacks.
Everyone, even the atheists, thinks they have a God-given right to attack the Pope. Not long ago, a Sunday broadsheet newspaper include the phrase “Even the bloody Pope” in its edition. Just imagine if the word Pope was replaced with that of any other British religious leader, the prophet or the queen? What an uproar would there be?
If you do not buy a ticket you do not have a vote. If you are too coy to put your name on letters, stick to graffiti. I hope and pray Pope Francis drags the conservative curia into the 21st century and continues to surprise and challenge me. He is my Pope – long may he continue.