Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Cardinal Kasper dropped from Papal entourage

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the former head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is well known to Anglicans. But today he appears to have committed a blunder. But what exactly did he really say?

Press reports:

Guardian Pope’s visit: aide steps aside after comparing Britain to ‘third world’ and later, Pope Benedict XVI flies in amid row over aide’s race remarks

Telegraph Pope visit: Cardinal drops out after calling UK ‘Third World’

Comment:

Andrew Brown Cardinal Kasper reveals the Vatican’s true beliefs

Catholic Voices has Bishops’ conference distants itself from Cardinal Kasper remarks

“The attributed comments of Cardinal Kasper do not represent the views of the Vatican, nor those of bishops in this country. Clearly, they are the personal views of one individual. Catholics play a full part in this country’s life and welcome the rich diversity of thought, culture and people which is so evident here. This historic visit marks a further development of the good relationship between the United Kingdom and the Holy See. We are confident that it will be a huge success.”

Catholic News Service quotes Fr Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, at length, in Church spokesmen downplay German cardinal’s remarks about Britain

At the Vatican, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the papal spokesman, also issued a statement to clarify the cardinal’s comments, which he said “have no negative intention and do not reflect any lack of appreciation for the United Kingdom.”

He said the cardinal “wanted to refer to the fact that from the moment of one’s arrival at London’s airport — as happens in many great cities of the world today, but in London in particular for its unique historic role as capital of the United Kingdom — one is aware from the very beginning that one finds oneself in a country in which many human realities from diverse origins and conditions arrive and encounter each other: a cosmopolitan reality, a crucible of modern humanity, with its differences and its problems.”

Father Lombardi added: “As far as the reference to atheism, he was referring evidently to the positions of some noted authors who are particularly aggressive and who cover themselves with scientific or cultural arguments, but which in reality don’t have the value that they claim. This doesn’t mean, naturally, that Cardinal Kasper is unaware that these positions and trends are limited, or that he does not recognize the great values of the British culture.”

The closest I have found so far to an actual quote from the article, in German, is below the fold. From this page.

In dem Interview in der aktuellen Ausgabe des FOCUS Kasper hatte auf die Frage, warum so viele über den Papst Unmute Brite äußerten, geantwortet “ist heute ein säkularisiertes England, pluralistisches Land. Wenn Sie am Flughafen Heathrow landen, denken Sie manchmal, Sie wären in einem Land der Dritten Welt gelandet.” Kasper bejahte außerdem die Frage, ob Christen im Königreich benachteiligt würden, und erläuterte: “Vor allem in England ist ein aggressiver Neu-Atheismus verbreitet. Wenn Sie am Flughafen Heathrow landen, manchmal denken Sie, Sie waren in einem Land der Dritten Welt gelandet. “Kasper bejahte außerdem die Frage, ob im Königreich Christen benachteiligt würden, und erläuterte:” Vor allem in England ist ein Neu-Atheismus aggressive verbreitet . Wenn Sie etwa bei British Airways ein Kreuz tragen, werden Sie benachteiligt. Wenn Sie ein etwa bei British Airways Kreuz tragen, werden Sie benachteiligt. Wir wollen aber unseren Glauben öffentlich zeigen. Wir wollen unsere Glauben aber öffentlich zeigen. Jeder, der England kennt, weiß, dass es dort auch eine große christliche Tradition gibt. Jeder, der England kennt, weiß, dass dort auch eine große is christliche Tradition gibt. Europa wäre nicht mehr Europa, wenn es diese Tradition nicht bewahren könnte.” Wäre nicht mehr Europa Europa, wenn nicht Tradition is give bewahren könnte. “

Kasper bezog sich damit auf einen vier Jahre alten Fall einer Angestellten von “British Airways”, der untersagt worden war, während der Arbeit eine Halskette mit Kreuz über ihrer Uniform und damit für Kunden sichtbar zu tragen. Kasper sich damit auf einen bezog vier Jahre alten Angestellten Fall von einer “British Airways”, der untersagt worden war, während der Arbeit über eine Halskette Kreuz mit ihrer Uniform und damit für Kunden zu tragen Sichtbar. Der Fall war seinerzeit auch in Großbritannien kontrovers diskutiert worden. Der Fall war auch in Großbritannien kontrovers seinerzeit diskutiert worden.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 11:09pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

"The pope's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said tonight that the cardinal 'has no negative intention, nor (a) lesser appreciation for the united Kingdom', but had been referring to Britain's multi-ethnic composition. He said the pope's former adviser did, of course recognise 'the great values of British culture'.

This is after having been invited by the ABC to
lecture the last Lambeth Conference on the dangers of proceeding with the acceptance of women and gays into the ministry of the Anglican Church.

It goes to show that sidling up to Rome on issues of Church polity will probably bear no fruit in the future. Kaspar is still so rabidly anti-modern in his approach to real ecumenism, especially when it threatens the idea of papal infallibility, it is no wonder he has been held back from any further gaffes he might commit during the pope's visit. After all, Benedict wants no controversy to prevent his magisterial tour through 'pagan' lands.

His comments on Britain's 'Third-World' status is rich - coming from a supposed ecumenist bent on 'preaching the Gospel to all the world'. If Rome wants to woo the Church of England, Benedict VI will need to quickly distance himself from his 'former adviser'.


Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 12:33am BST

How silly is this? This geriatric, cushioned from the real world inhabitant of his very own Ptotemkin's Village, albeit quite a beautiful one, pronounces about other countries and how real people live?

I don't think there should be anti-Pope demos - just gales of laughter.

The Emperor has no clothes.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 12:52am BST

The "quote" in German is duplicating several sentences.

Posted by: Canon Dirk van Leeuwen on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 4:44am BST

I am no fan of Cardinal kaspar, but surely he is entiled to his own private opinions on non de fide issues?

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 6:51am BST

There is no doubt, to me anyhow, about the aggressive anti-Christian attitude of many parts of British society. In many places and institutions, those dogmatically opposed to all faith views have the bit firmly between their teeth.

I teach for a Christian institution. It does not help me at all that this latter fact is on my CV. It means that I try to dodge some situations altogether. To apply for anything which means including my CV makes my heart sink.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 8:10am BST

The best translation I can manage of what the Cardinal is now reported to have said (as posted on line yesterday by the magazine Focus, which interviewed him in the first place) is:

In an interview in the current issue of FOCUS Kasper replied to the question of why so many Britons had expressed their displeasure with the Pope: “England is now a secularised, pluralistic country. If you land at Heathrow Airport, you sometimes think you have landed in a third world country." Kasper also spoke on the question of whether Christians are disadvantaged in the United Kingdom, and said: "In England especially an aggressive new atheism has spread. For instance if you work at British Airways and want to wear a cross, you will be disadvantaged; but Christians want to show our faith in public. Anyone who knows England knows that there is also a great Christian tradition there. Europe would no longer be Europe if this tradition could not be kept up. "

Posted by: Ben Gumpert on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 8:19am BST

Stop digging Lombardi - there is no way to gloss this one. Lombardi just makes the whole thing sound like a racist slur as well as an insult to our country.

Robert Ian Williams - er... private opinions given in an interview to a magazine are no longer private. Which is why they have caused him trouble.

If Kaspar's comments reflect anything like the view inside the Vatican then it makes me even crosser that the Pope is making a State Visit for which we (the British taxpayer) are, in part, forking out.

Go home, Benedict.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 8:24am BST

Of course he is, Robert.

It is just these remarks have an unsavoury aspect to them, something approaching racism .....
The "facts" upon which the are based are equally unsavoury ..... they are at best twisted, at worst inaccurate or false.

They show the great success of some "Christian" organisations who have spent the last few years exploiting stories by again, twisting the facts and concealing the whole truth.

This man - until very recently led the Roman dicastery charged with ecumenical affairs and if he has been so misled we have to be very concerned about the whole well being poisoned by those who prefer fear to truth.

Finally - he was "on the team" still part of the diplomatic entourage making a State visit to Britain ..... and it seems not the best words to make your principal feel good as he steps off the plane.

I don't think it an excommunication offence though ...
I wish the ailing Cardinal a speedy recovery .....

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 8:33am BST

It would seem, from Kaspar's comments, that this man has been dropped on his head from the papal entourage.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 8:43am BST

"England ist heute ein säkularisiertes, pluralistisches Land. Wenn Sie am Flughafen Heathrow landen, denken Sie manchmal, Sie wären in einem Land der Dritten Welt gelandet.”

Today's England is a secular and pluralistic country. When you land at Heathrow Airport, you sometimes think you had landed in a Third World country."

I don't want to defend the nonsense about not being allowed to wear a cross. He should know better and he may well be stoking the fire.

But how you interpret this particular sentence depends on what images the term "Third World" conjures up for you. If it's poverty and deprivation, then you will feel insulted.
If it's different skin tones and cultures, then you will simply think, yes, Heathrow sometime does look like a melting pot.

We rightly no longer use the term “Third World” as it tends to have negative connotations, but this man is old enough to have learned to use it when it was much more neutral.

I’m quite happy to believe that he really meant to say multi-cultural.
We don’t have to insist on feeling insulted all the time.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 9:12am BST

"I am no fan of Cardinal kaspar, but surely he is entiled to his own private opinions on non de fide issues?" Sure he is, RiW - and on "de fide" issues, for that matter - but when he expresses those opinions to a journalist, they cease to be private opinions. But who am I to care if he and his buddies consider the present-day British insufficiently Aryan?

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 9:32am BST

Can someone supply a link to the lecture of Cardinal Kasper mentioned at the last Lambeth Conference?

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 9:49am BST

The big point for me is that so many of these supposedly high-powered RC theologians (how often have Anglicans been 'warned' by this allegedly benevolent Cardinal) have such ignorant and primitive views once they stray off their turf - further proof (not that one needed it) that there is absolutely no reason to be impressed by their 'theology' either.

Posted by: john on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 11:03am BST

Judith

Try this:

http://www.zenit.org/article-23384?l=english

Posted by: Peter Owen on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 1:29pm BST

It's truly pathetic that the British taxpayer has to pick up the tab for this sham better known as a state visit. Will someone please explain what state business is being conducted?

Posted by: Doug on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 2:18pm BST

Just think what Kaspar and crew think when they land in say, Kampala or Rio De Janeiro. If London is third world they must be fourth and fifth world contries with so many "brown people." The Vatican is an old boys club for the closed minded. State dinner, Yuck. Her Majesty must be given a raise in lei of having to eat with this crew.

Posted by: bobinswpa on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 2:44pm BST

The Staggers identifies the 'third-world' remark as racist.

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/09/third-world-vatican-kasper

There's also an excellent piece by Geoffrey Robertson exposing inaccuracies in FCO information about the Vatican's claim to be a state.

http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2010/09/vatican-holy-italy-lateran

Posted by: junius on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 3:22pm BST

Erika, I think you are mistaken. Taken in context, the Cardinal's statement simply cannot be taken in a positive light. He was enumerating the problems of the UK, not making general observations.

Posted by: BillyD on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 3:43pm BST

I know the Queen's constitutional role is Head of State and National Icon and that she doesn't intervene in affairs of state except in an extreme constitutional crisis, but I wish she had withheld Royal Assent to the Bishop of Rome's visit and encouraged her government not to do it. Having Benedict and his gang in the UK makes me feel like I need to take repeated showers.

Posted by: pete on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 4:39pm BST

Where is the sense of charity..or is this just a blog to let off steam and bile. Come on ..you've helped pay for the visit, enjoy it!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 4:42pm BST

Billy
The link to the German article Simon provided makes it clear that there was no "enumeration", but that the Cardinal was answering different questions.
I'll try to see if I can find a copy of the full interview, but at the moment there is nothing that indicates the sequence of questions or of any others that may have been put in between.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 5:12pm BST

IT could have very been that he meant that the UK appears as a third country in the composition of the people that one can see at Heathrow (affirming his previous statement of the UK's plurality), but it's a poor choice of words for somebody who should know better. So I agree, it's time for Kasper the Not-So-Friendly Ghost to scram. Condom (sorry, couldn't resist!) him to a real third world "country", the tombs at Vatican City.

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 5:18pm BST

Billy

"In dem Interview in der aktuellen Ausgabe des FOCUS hatte Kasper auf die Frage, warum so viele Briten Unmut über den Papst äußerten, geantwortet: „England ist heute ein säkularisiertes, pluralistisches Land. Wenn Sie am Flughafen Heathrow landen, denken Sie manchmal, Sie wären in einem Land der Dritten Welt gelandet.”
Kasper bejahte außerdem die Frage, ob Christen im Königreich benachteiligt würden, und erläuterte: “Vor allem in England ist ein aggressiver Neu-Atheismus verbreitet...“

„In an interview with the current edition of FOCUS Kasper answered the question why so many British people expressed discontent with the Pope: 'Today's England is a secular and pluralistic country. When you land at Heathrow Airport, you sometimes think you had landed in a Third World country.'

Kaspar also answered yes to the question whether Christians were at a disadvantage in Britain and explained: 'Especially in England there is widespread aggressive new atheism….'”

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 5:23pm BST

In light of the Cardinal's remarks, wouldn't it be funny if the next Pope came from 'the Third World?'

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 5:51pm BST

The term third world is a dated racist expression anyway. It should be industrialising nations.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 8:26pm BST

Erika,

Your liberal pluralism, which I also champion, is admirable but should not extend to defending bigotry. 'Widespread aggressive new atheism' is a telling phrase: atheists are absolutely entitled to express their views; the fact that they do so is no indictment of a state: it is, or should be, a compliment. This man, like the present pope, is a limited, bigoted, inadequate creature and theologian. We have far better people in the C of E. That, among many other reasons, is why we are C of E.

Posted by: john on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 8:37pm BST

The reported comments of Kasper, Lombardi and of Ratzinger (en route in plane and upon landing) make me feel ashamed to be a christian minister.

That they are an appalling witness is very discouraging.This content and tone will not engage the person in the street.

Their dishonesty is disheartening.

It is these newish expressions of an aggressive Churchianity that I find distressing.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 8:44pm BST

Well this whole incident rather exposes, all too barely and baldly? - the fundamental contradiction of conservative religious leaders wanting to turn the clocks back as far as possible while also wanting to be lauded widely at the same time for being ever so obviously incivisive as they get to the alleged eternal heart of all matters.

If the general public dares to react negatively to constantly being told that loving God means believing simply awful flat earth things - about our real, live neighbors of innumerable different sorts; about intellectual realities of the past like the Enlightenment or Vatican Two or science published last week - then the earth is flat because that is how God made it, period.

This is ironically Dawkins-flavored stuff except that now it is coming from the self-congratulating Roman Catholic sides - God is innately unreasonable (if not actually, nasty and sadistic) period. Loyal conservative religious obedience trumps any and all frail, fallible human understandings. Rather worships - or at least deeply depends on - the very faked Either/Or presuppositions and bad faith categories which it supposedly reveals as yet another round of familiar human folly.

Alas, not much of a way foward for any sort of pilgrim believer, anywhere. The pitched categories - absolute revelation vs. some speciously constructed alleged relativism - are just sophomoric if not outright moronic.

God is a bully, after all. Give him your lunch money, admit that you are worse than dirt on his shoes, or else. The price tag? Ten million or so, and lots else we pay in costs that is hard to price tag.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 8:51pm BST

There is a "crisis of values and direction" (to quote Kasper) alright. That crisis is squarely at the feet of the small circle of old white men who hold the power in the Vatican. The current pope is at the head of this table of old white men and the far right wing elements that have controlled all of the dialogue since 1978. It is bringing the Church of Rome to near implosion. I have to agree with Andrew Brown's analysis of the current mess in Rome and I am not all surprised that Kasper is capable of making such feeble remarks. These are the last days of imperial Catholicism. Decay is active and all encompassing when it comes to preserving the Roman Catholic system which has become remarkably removed from the gentle and loving Jesus.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Thursday, 16 September 2010 at 11:04pm BST

" "Look at the Protestant churches," he said: "They have married priests and women priests, too. Are they doing better? The Church of England has also taken on terrible problems with these developments. I wouldn't wish those problems on my church." - Cardinal Kasper -

No, exactly! They have enough of their own! Is His Excellency really suffering from gout, or did the Pope just step on his toes?

Robert, just remember, it was Cardinal Kasper who made the 'dated racist expression' no-one else. And he must needs carry the cane for it.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 2:13am BST

"you've helped pay for the visit, enjoy it!"

Oh so grateful to be a Yank now, RIW . . . but as a Yank, I can't help but recall a US newscaster some 25 years ago or so, who opined on air that if a woman was going to be RAPED anyway, "she should just lay back and enjoy it!" (FWIW, even 25 years ago, this "journalist" was FIRED for these remarks)

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 3:51am BST

John
There is intelligent atheism and there is the kind of thing you get in the CiF Belief comments after someone has posted a thoughtful essay on faith.
There is Philip Pullman but there is also Dawkins.
And on the other side, you only need to read some of the comments here to realise that we're not above thoughtless schadenfreude and viscious cheerful insults.

I agree with you that atheists need to be taken seriously and not denounced as if we had the truth and they were wilful idiots. I have more in common with some atheists than with some of the more aggressively fundamentalist Christians even on this thoughtful blog. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see aggressive atheism too.

Where I think Kaspar has it wrong is in that he misinterprets things like British Airways asking someone to wear a cross on a different part of her person as denying faith and being aggressive; and like so many he is suffering from the misunderstanding that treating Christianity as one of many religions in the public sphere without allowing right wing Christians to make laws for everyone (gay adoption, civil partnerships etc) is discrimination and anti-Christian.

But, hey, he is fairly old, he is pretty conservative, he is Roman Catholic and he was born in a time where the church was more in tune with society in all these aspects.

No point getting all insulted about it. Just move on. Or does our liberal pluralism only extend to liberals and nice atheists?
The fact that they couldn’t even sell all the tickets for the Pope’s visit says enough, doesn’t it?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 7:47am BST

John
The other point I'd like to make is: All I've said so far is that his Third World comment is not neccessarily to be interpreted the way it has been interpreted here.
Once we see the full interview we may be able to tell.
Until then we should be a little cautious.
People deserve to be criticised for what they've said not for what we think they said.

If he really did mean that Britain is an immoral tin-pot country sliding into poverty he does need to be roundly criticised. Probably more by the actual developing countries than by Britain, because what prejudice against them too!

But setting up strawmen to knock them down with huge moral outrage is something I really really really detest. I've been on the receiving end of it too often to want to inflict it on others.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 8:12am BST

" "Look at the Protestant churches," he said: "They have married priests and women priests, too. Are they doing better? The Church of England has also taken on terrible problems with these developments. I wouldn't wish those problems on my church." - Cardinal Kasper -

Would it be too rude to remind the good cardinal that Anglicans generally can send their children to church without making them wear chastity belts?

Probably.

But Kasper is claiming a moral authority here that his church has lost for now, at least, if not forever.

Posted by: JPM on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 2:08pm BST

More of Kasper's remarks (than Simon has already posted) are in the Focus news story here:

http://www.focus.de/politik/ausland/papst/walter-kasper-irritationen-ueber-kardinal-ueberschatten-papst-reise_aid_552106.html

Posted by: Iain McLean on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 3:21pm BST

Erika, the two sentences that go together are "Today's England is a secular and pluralistic country. When you land at Heathrow Airport, you sometimes think you had landed in a Third World country." These sentences do not stand apart. While you could possibly stretch the second one into something positive if you tried hard enough, the tone of the utterance is set by the first one - and when a Cardinal calls a place "a secular and pluralistic country" he is far from giving that place a compliment. The Pope's message this trip seems to be highly focused on secularism as a bad thing, and the Cardinal's comments fit in with that message perfectly.

Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 3:34pm BST

Billy
So what is the message?
What does it mean to say that you are "in a Third World country" in connection with arriving at an airport and said in the context of a faith interview?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 17 September 2010 at 10:23pm BST

Today, we celebrated a Mass in remembrance of St. Hildegard of Bingen. I wondered why she was not given a mention today in the Roman Calendar - and then I read that she was a vigorous critic of the Roman Magisterium. Does that have any bearing?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 10:44am BST

Erika, I think he was saying that England has lost its Christian identity. I think the reference to Heathrow was a stand-in for Britain as a whole.

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 18 September 2010 at 12:29pm BST

I wonder what the Cardinal makes of the huge immigrant communities ( three million Turks ) in the modern Germany? The native German birth rate is beneath replacement level and like us, they need immigrants.

Contraception and immigration is changing Europe forever .

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 7:19am BST

Billy
You could be right!
But it would be an odd statement to make because the developing countries are those with the most Christian growth at the moment.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 10:48am BST

RIW
Most Turkish immigrants into Germany are Muslim. The Cardinal would probably call Frankfurt a Third World airport.

Of course, it all depends on whether you see immigration as negative or as invigorating.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 19 September 2010 at 8:54pm BST
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