Third World Country

The BBC are reporting that Walter Kasper, one of the pope’s senior advisers has pulled out of the papal visit to the UK after saying in a magazine interview that the UK is a “third world country” marked by a “new and aggressive atheism”.

Of course, atheists are used to being called aggressive because we ask religious people to defend basically illogical concepts. But this idea that atheism makes a country “third world” is new. Of course, it’s nonsense too. The few parts of the world where christianity is still growing are largely parts of what we used to called “the third world”. The developed world (with some exceptions – and, yes, I’m looking at you, USA) is putting religious nonsense behind it.

The Vatican have stepped in to clarify Kasper’s remarks. I’m quoting the entire third paragraph of the BBC’s story here as I think it’s likely to change when they realise what it says:

The Vatican said the cardinal had not intended “any kind of slight”, and was referring to the UK’s multicultural society.

Did you get that? I’m astounded. Is there any other way to read that than:

Sorry he called you third world, but you have to admit the country is full of darkies.

The Daily Express will love it.

And these are the people we’ve invited over on a state visit.

[Thanks to Denny for pointing this out.]


  1. Of course, his reason for not coming has nothing to do with the output of his mouth, but rather because he’s suddenly contracted that very medieval disease, gout.

  2. I know you’re just having a rant, so accurate representation of another’s views or even words is strictly an optional extra, but what he actually said was “when you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country.”If you think that’s contentious, you’ve probably had better experiences at the international departure lounge than I have. It’s a horrible place. Between overpriced drinks, surly bus and taxi drivers, unhelpful staff, and heaving, sweaty scrummages at baggage reclaim, I can name several Third World countries I’d prefer to land at.

  3. According to a new BBC story he actually said:

    “England today is a secularised and pluralist country. When you land at Heathrow airport, you sometimes think you’ve landed in a Third World country.”

    I think that it’s a bit of a stretch to think that Simon’s interpretation (whilst accurate and amusing) is what Kaspar meant. It’s certainly not what the Vatican thought he meant as their clarification shows.

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