What exactly did Cardinal Walter Kasper of the Vatican mean when he said that Britain
was like “a third world country”? More specifically he said that “when you land at Heathrow” it’s like arriving in a Third World Country. Most people have cheerfully
taken this to be a racist observation – ie, that there are all too many black and Asian people milling around, unlike in Cardinal Kasper’s home town of Stuttgart where by law everybody
has to be white. But it may be that he was simply observing hell of Heathrow Airport in general where you receive the sort of service which you might expect in a third world country with a none-too
benign dictatorship. Haiti, say, or Burma. There is something very third worldish about Heathrow, its incompetence, its queues, the surliness of the staff.
Have to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the furore over both the Pope’s visit and Kasper’s injudicious commentary. I see that both Stephen Fry and Terry Pratchett intend to protest
about the visit, a development which, overnight, made me almost believe in transubstantiation.