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Vatican gaffe: cardinal likens UK to 'Third World' country

September 15, 2010

Cardinal Walter Kasper has raised eyebrows in England with an astonishingly insensitive comment about that country’s growing ethnic diversity.

“When you arrive at Heathrow you think at times that you’ve landed in a Third World country,” the former president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity reportedly said.

Shortly after his comment was made public, Cardinal Kasper announced that he would not accompany Pope Benedict on this week’s trip to the United Kingdom, as had been planned. The 77-year-old German cardinal explained that he did not feel equal to making the trip because he had been ill “for several days.”


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  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Sep. 16, 2010 9:10 PM ET USA

    Earth to posters: Kasper's remark was "astonishingly insensitive" quite simply because (and I do not say this from political correctness) it was transparently and blatantly racist and xenophobic. No one knows but the Lord what was in the Cardinal's heart, but he deserved more than rapped knuckles for this stinker.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Sep. 16, 2010 10:18 AM ET USA

    Haven't been to Britain, but have gone to the Continent recently. It's worse than a Third World Country. The contempt for ordinary decency and for religious values makes it more dangerous than any jungle. Ethnicity has nothing whatever to do with it.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2010 10:36 PM ET USA

    Uh, where's the gaffe and/or the statement of untruth? I realize the die-hard secularists and the multiculturalists do not wish to hear that they're anything but perfect, but..they're not perfect! If the Brits don't like references to 3rd world countries, perhaps they ought to try the moral scruples that helped make them a 1st world nation? All things considered, I'd say the Cardinal's remarks were squarely on the money. The US looks much the same at times, to my great regret.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2010 8:50 PM ET USA

    How does a factual observation become an "astonishingly insensitive comment"? It's probably one of the few bright comments that His Eminence has uttered. For some of us who live in major American cities, it's not a whole lot different.

  • Posted by: Gregory108 - Sep. 15, 2010 8:35 PM ET USA

    I have to kind of agree. I wouldn't call it a "Third World Country," but upon landing in London, I recall thinking that we could be entering the United Arab Emirates. There was an empty room with two women sitting, stamping passports,dressed in traditional Arabic dress, their heads covered with the traditional head-dress of Muslim women. I got a bit lost and turned around in Hyde Park and could not get directions because none of the people selling concessions spoke enough English to communicate.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Sep. 15, 2010 8:31 PM ET USA

    Oooo... The Brits have really thin skin when it comes to being compare to the Third World, but they have been insulting Pope and the Church on this visit since it was first announced. They can give it, but they can't take it.