16 September, 2010
Kasper bows out
In an interview with the German magazine Focus the cardinal, said to be an expert on ecumenical language, appears to have said that “When you arrive at Heathrow you think at times that you’ve landed in a Third World country”, and that Christians in Britain were discriminated against “above all by an aggressive new atheism. If you wear a cross on British Airways, you are discriminated against.”
Of course we all rather think the same on arrival at Heathrow. With its polyglot thousands milling around, often pushing mattresses or carpets in shopping trolleys, its inadequate and poorly cleaned lavatories and its disgraceful bars and restaurants your first thought might have been Delhi.
And there is no doubt that Britain is governed by an aggressive new atheism. It is evident not so much in British Airways as in the BBC, the Government and among the scientists. Perhaps it is better that these things are finally aired but I think it a mistake for an expert n ecumenical language charged with pushing Christian Unity to be the bloke airing them.
The Vatican says that Cardinal Kasper, who looks a jolly soul, has been suffering from gout, and I know myself that this illness can easily make you grumpy. The key is to expect it, and carry your medicine with you at all times. My rule was that if I wanted to say that Britain was a third world country I would instantly take a pill, whereas if I found myself promoting an auto-da-fe of women priests in Hyde Park I would take two.