The Deacon's Bench

That’s how the Archbishop of Westminster is characterizing comments by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who earlier this week compared the UK to “Third World country.” (Perhaps not the best choice of words for the start of a papal trip…)

From the Beeb:

_49113221_000992374-1.jpgA senior papal aide has come under pressure to apologise after saying arriving at Heathrow airport was like landing in a “Third World” country.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Catholic Church leader in Scotland, said he expected Cardinal Walter Kasper to say sorry.

Cardinal Kasper pulled out of the Pope’s four-day UK visit, with the Vatican citing illness.

The trip is expected to contain a number of protests and statements by groups opposed to it.

Cardinal Kasper had made his remarks during an interview with the German magazine Focus.

He reportedly told a the magazine the UK was marked by “a new and aggressive atheism”.

On Wednesday, Vatican sources said Cardinal Kasper was suffering from gout and had been advised by his doctors not to travel to the UK.

They also said his “Third World” comment referred to the UK’s multicultural society.
Ahead of the Pope’s arrival in Edinburgh, Cardinal O’Brien told BBC Radio Scotland: “[The comment] was unfortunate and each and every person’s aides sometimes do make awkward, difficult remarks.

“Sometimes we make awkward, difficult remarks ourselves.

“And simply, if we do that sort of thing we apologise for it, and I’m sure Cardinal Kasper will apologise for any intemperate remarks which he made some time ago.”

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said he found Cardinal Kasper’s remarks “quite inexplicable”.

He told the BBC: “This is a very diverse country and we rejoice in that diversity. There’s a great richness of people and of cultures and of contributions made in British society and they are an enrichment.”

The Catholic Church in England and Wales said Cardinal Kasper’s comments were “the personal views of one individual”.

There’s more at the link.

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