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Abuse victims reject Pope's comments

Even as Pope Benedict XVI began a controversial visit to Britain on Thursday a leading adviser to the Pope has angered a lot of people in the British capital by comparing it to a Third World country.

world Updated: Sep 17, 2010 01:23 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Even as Pope Benedict XVI began a controversial visit to Britain on Thursday a leading adviser to the Pope has angered a lot of people in the British capital by comparing it to a Third World country.

Cardinal Walter Kasper said Christians were “at a disadvantage” in Britain, adding: “When you land in Heathrow, you at times think you are in a Third World country.” A “new and aggressive atheism” had swept Britain, he told the German magazine Focus.

As people in Britain — Europe’s most multicultural country — reacted with outrage, Kasper himself was hurriedly dropped from the Papal delegation. But the damage had already been done to a visit that has been beset by controversy weeks before it had even begun.

The head of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, described Kaspar’s remarks as “quite inexplicable,” adding: “This is a very diverse country and we rejoice in that diversity.”

A key contribution visible to anyone flying in to London has been to the building and maintenance of Heathrow — an achievement that the large Indian-origin population living around the airport is justly proud of.

“Just like the National Health Service and London’s bus service, Heathrow would shut down without the thousands of Indians and others who work there,” Ranjeet Dheer, deputy leader of the local Ealing council, told HT. “They keep Heathrow and London open for business.”

Abuse victims reject Pope's comments

Victims of abuse dismissed Pope Benedict XVI's “hurtful” comments Thursday about how the Catholic Church had lacked vigilance on paedophilia, as he arrived on a state visit to Britain.

Joell Casteix of the US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said, “It's disingenuous to say church officials have been slow and insufficiently vigilant in dealing with clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

“On the contrary, they've been prompt and vigilant, but in concealing, not preventing, these horrors.” AFP