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Vatican Attempts To Clarify Pope Francis' Comments On Paris Terror Attack

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Vatican is trying to clarify some controversial comments by Pope Francis.

Some say his statement seemed to condone last week's terror attack at a French newspaper, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Thursday.

On a flight to the Philippines, the pope took questions, and raised eyebrows.

A French reporter asked about the attack at Charlie Hebdo, which was carried out by Muslims outraged over the paper's mocking of the prophet Muhammad.

Francis condemned those who kill in the name of religion, but then said, "If (my good friend) 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," the pontiff added.

Father James Martin, the editor at large of the Jesuit magazine "America," said Pope Francis was trying to make a point about respect for other religions.

"He's trying to be very earthy and very direct when he's speaking to people," Martin said. "I think the pope is trying to say that we have this fundamental right to free speech, but that it does have limits and that we need to respect other religions. For someone like the pope, who is working hard to foster religious dialogue, respect for other religions is going to be a part of his message."

Charlie Hebdo has mocked Islam, Judaism and Catholicism relentlessly. Popes Benedict and Francis have been ridiculed on many covers.

Late Thursday afternoon, The Vatican went into damage control, saying the pope did not intend to justify violence at the paper. It sent out the following clarification email:

"The pope has spoken out clearly against the terror and violence that occurred in Paris. (His) free style of speech must be taken at face value and not distorted or manipulated," the statement said.

The pope was asked about being a potential terror target. He said he worries for the pilgrims who come to his events, but has what he called "a healthy dose of obliviousness" to his own personal safety, Aiello reported.

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