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Free speech has its limits, says Pope Francis

Pope Francis talks with reporters during his flight to Manila (AP)

Pope Francis has said in an in-flight press conference on the way to the Philippines that killing in the name of religion is an “aberration”, but that free speech has its limits too.

The Pope compared mockery of religion to someone insulting his mother, saying: “While it is true that it is wrong to react with violence, if Mr [Albert] Gasbarri [organiser of papal trips], who is a friend, insults my mother, that’s asking for a punch.”

He said a legacy of the Enlightenment was that people view religions as subcultures that “boil down to little, they are not part of a culture of enlightenment”, adding: “So many people badmouth, make fun of and mock other people’s religions. They provoke and in doing so could get the kind of reaction Mr Gasbarri would get if he said something bad about my mother. There is a limit.”

The Pope also said he thought climate change was mainly man-made.

Asked if he believed global warming was largely a result of human activity, he said: “I don’t know about all of it, but for the most part it is man who continually slaps nature around. We have exploited nature too much. Thanks be to God that today there are voices, so many people who are speaking out about it.”

Francis said he aimed to finish his encyclical on the environment in March so it could be published in June or July.

He criticised last year’s climate summit, saying: “The meetings in Peru were nothing much, I was disappointed… There was a lack of courage. They stopped at a certain point. We hope that in Paris the representatives have more courage to go forward.”

At the start of the press conference the Pope announced that he would canonise Blessed Junípero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary, during his trip to the United States.

The priest helped establish the Church in California in the 1770s.

You can read a full transcript of Pope Francis’s in-flight press conference here.