Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Cardinal Was Right on Heathrow

I can't quite understand the fuss about the remarks of one of the Pope's advisers, Cardinal Kasper, who reckoned that arriving at Heathrow was like landing in a third world country. Readers of this blog will know that I have been saying that for years (Terminal 5 excepted).

In general Heathrow airport is a disgrace, and as a country we should be ashamed of the impression it gives to people coming to England for the first time.

The shame of it is that these remarks have been used as a means of joining the chorus of intolerant fools who believe that the Pope's visit should have been banned. I am not a religious person at all, but Catholicism is the faith of more than 10% of our population, I believe. It is a Christian religion and we are still - nominally at least - a Christian country. I don't agree with many aspects of the Catholic faith and approach to social issues, but those who call for this visit to be banned demonstrate exactly the kind of intolerance they accuse the Catholic church of.

I'm rather glad I am out of the country, though, for the whole of the Pope's visit. I suspect we are about to see a side of some people which will be very ugly indeed.


James Bloodworth said...

"I'm rather glad I am out of the country, though, for the whole of the Pope's visit. I suspect we are about to see a side of some people which will be very ugly indeed."

Presumably then you will say the same about those protesting against Nick Griffin, considering the Pope's views towards homosexuals ("an instrinsic moral evil") are equally intolerant?

Roger Thornhill said...

I wholeheartedly agree with this, Iain.

If people disagree with Catholicism, don't be a Catholic or form a Reformed Catholic Church* or whathaveyou. In return, Catholicism must not threaten or attack those who decide to leave it. Same goes for all religions.

It is all a matter of freedom of (dis)association.

* that will get a few knickers in a twist.

caw rock said...

Iain, be prepared: those "ugly sides" reach over all borders!

P. Stable said...

I also assumed he was talking about the physical state of Heathrow, until 'Vatican sources' said:

"...his 'Third World' comment referred to the UK's multicultural society."


"Heathrow was a 'melting pot of modern humanity with its diversity and problems'".

It seems the Vatican thought offence had been caused because we're very protective of our aiport design, so helpfull explained that the Cardinal was ACTUALLY talking about all the people who are, y'know, brown and stuff.

Adrian Short said...

No-one is saying that the Pope should be banned. They're saying that the Pope should visit the UK at the Catholic Church's expense as a private visit rather than at the public's expense as a state visit.

So let's make it a question. If the Pope is visiting the UK as head of the Vatican City State, can someone explain the strategic value to the UK of our relationship with the Vatican in similar terms as they'd explain our relationship with France or the USA?

David T said...

"In general Heathrow airport is a disgrace, and as a country we should be ashamed of the impression it gives to people coming to England for the first time."

The problem is that the Cardinal's words might have been thought indicate that he has some sort of problem with non-Europeans.

If all he meant was that facilities weren't very good, there would be no problem at all, really.

However, this clarification was issued by the Church:

"They also said his "Third World" comment referred to the UK's multicultural society."

So, it sounds as if he was talking about non-white people, after all.

Anonymous said...

Shurely you meant Britain?

Mark Taylor said...

Are there enough people saying the pope should be barred from visiting to form a chorus? I haven't noticed them. Lots of people saying he shouldn't have a taxpayer-funded state visit, yes; lots of people saying it was a mistake to invite him; a few saying that he ought to be arrested for his role in the child abuse scandal but can't be. The voices saying the pope shouldn't be allowed to enter the UK have been a tiny minority, haven't they?

Anonymous said...

Ho yuss, I agree. Compare most of our infrastructure to Germany's and we are indeed a Third World country. Britain is widely derided by the boxheads as Affen Insel (Monkey Island).

Heathrow has been a building-site since it opened. London Underground is a disgrace. The condition of our roads is a joke too funny to be laughed at; repairs that are done in an afternoon in Germany, Switzerland or Scandinavia can take weeks.

The railways are beyond comedy. I travelled from Dresden (in the south-east of the old DDR) to Hamburg less than 18 months after reunification, and when I bought my ticket I was told precisely what my connections would be, on which platform and at what time. It worked without a hitch, of course. They had integrated the two 'Cold War' rail systems that quickly.

Spinning the Cardinal's comments up as a quasi-racialist slur on multiculturalism doesn't work. In so many ways we are indeed Third World.

Anonymous said...

The cardinal may well, as the Vatican has since claimed, that he was referring to the fact that Heathrow has a lot of non-westerners milling around in it (shock horror - it's a major international hub).

Yet the cardinal chose the words "third world country" not, say, "like the united nations" or something less pejorative. It was also in the same interview that he lambasted the country for being aggressively atheist. Set in the full context, it's right that the remarks are being criticised.

Incidentally, not all of us that are criticising the comments are against the Pope's visit though (barring the debate over who should be paying for it).

Lord Snowdon (ooh photography allusion) said...

Honestly Iain, have you (or indeed His Eminence, The Cardinal) ever actually been to a 'third world' country? If you have you'll know that this is bunkem. As for slagging off Heathrow...well the less said about Rome Ciampino airport (and the Rome Metro, Italian roads etc.) the better. I know it's fashionable for Londoners/Southerners to slag off our transport but please...get real. Anyway I heard the Cardinal has gout, but I didn't know you could get gout of the mind.

Junior Lawyer said...

A lot of the "intolerant fools", as you put it, are not asking for a complete ban on the Pope's visit but rather disagree that it should be state funded. No one disputes that he is entitled to visit Britain as a spirtitual leader of a large portion of the world's population but the Vatican should not be recognised as a State. If it were actually a State in the proper meaning of the word would we really support it? One organisation ruling over it for eternity as absolute monarch - the Vatican is merely an extension of the Church. This has recently been detailed more fully in an excellent new book by Geoffrey Robertson QC "The Case of the Pope".

It is the Pope who is an "intolerant fool" Iain - referring to homosexuality as a personal problem which should be overcome for example. Have more patience with the protestors... you might even agree with some of them!

A selection of some Pope quotes to jog your memeory:

-On homosexuality:

"Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder".

"to create a legal form of a kind of homosexual marriage, in reality, does not help these people".

nice chap.

Geoffers said...

Apparently, the cardinal now has a dose of gout which means he won't be accompanying the Pope.

Gout can be very, very painful.


Ivelmike said...

@ Roger Thornhill

Regarding a Reformed Catholic Church, there is such a body already. It is more commonly known as the Church of England, or internationally as the Anglican Church.

Salmondnet said...

"Foreign cleric dares to mention the bleedin' obvious" shock horror.

What delicate flowers we have all become.

-- said...

Agreed IF his comments related to Heathrow's longstanding reputation for queues, delays & poor facilities. I.e. if this was purely a comment on the UK's overburdened air transport facilities.

I doubt it was though. More likely this was a sideswipe at London's multiculturalism, in which case I can understand the public's anger.

Manfarang said...

I always try to use Gatwick.

RonLiddle said...

Some how I don't think the pope will be troubled by queues when he arrives.

Martin said...

"I suspect we are about to see a side of some people which will be very ugly indeed."

Yet another cheap shot at Pope Palpatine.

Keith Ruffles said...

Are third world airports particularly multicultural or something?

Paddy Briggs said...

You don't seem to get it Iain. Even the most anti-Catholic person doesn't want to stop the old bigot from coming here. What we object to is the myth that it is a "State Visit" and that, therefore, taxpayers have to pay substantially for it. The Vatican is not a member of the UN and has no serious status as a proper State.

strapworld said...

Iain, I do agree with you. My wife and I travelled via Heathrow to Australia earlier this year and returned to Heathrow.

The way people are treated like cattle, herded along! Being disabled I had my walking stick taken from me to be placed in the XRay machine. Ordered to walk through the scanners. I tried to explain that I required my walking stick and they, reluctantly, brought it to me after complaining. I was 'ordered' to take my shoes off. (Open sandles) I explained I couldn't without a chair. They brought a chair and I took off my shoes- with my dear wife's assistance- and my shoes went through the Xray and then thrown down at me!

I Tried to take the names of the two operatives and was told I would be arrested!

Manchester, Singapore, Melbourne, Cairns,airports both outgoing and returning were all completely curteous and my shoes stayed with me and my walking stick was handed back to me after being checked.

But Heathrow was like arriving in a foreign country. The staff in the shops, the security staff ,cleaners, the immigration and even the police. We did not see one white face!

Quite unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

"The Vatican is not a member of the UN and has no serious status as a proper State."

Since when is being a member of the UN a prerequisite for statehood? Switzerland only became a member in 2002, so do you refuse to consider her a proper country before that date?

Mark Taylor said...


I don't think you understand what "and" means.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Come up north you lot and see what we have to put up with.......The Cardinal is spot on!!

Oh yes and Heathrow is a total crap hole, best avoided, go via Amsterdam instead

English Pensioner said...

I had a friend who emigrated to Australia some years ago and I met him last year when he came here on business. I was told that he had been dreading this visit to England in that it had taken him many years to overcome his homesickness and he was afraid it would all start again. His comment when I met him was that the taxi ride for Heathrow into London finally cured all thoughts of homesickness, and that the was bloody glad he had emigrated.
Virtually the same words!

TimC said...

You think Heathrow is a disgrace? Visit Stonehenge!

Anonymous said...

While 10% of the population might be Catholic, I cannot understand why Cameron contends that the pope's visit is "incredibly important".

To whom? Why? And why should we pay exorbitant sums of money to protect the child-molestor-protecting b@stard?

Can someone please enlighten me?

Unknown said...

I think you may be wrong. I'm proud of the way Scotland acquitted itself yesterday.

Don't get me wrong, I have no time for any of the Pope's teachings but his presence yesterday made a lot of people, many of whom don't agree with much of what he says either, happy.

Yes, I agree with Stephen Fry et al that it shouldn't be a state visit & I think it's legitimate to demonstrate against his views but there has to be a bit of live and let live.

Tapestry said...

Boris Johnson is taking up catholocism now.

Nich Starling said...

Apparently 9.7% of the population are Catholic Iain.

Simon Gardner said...

"Nominally Christian"? I don't think so.

Setting aside the bogus Census question which was mainly interpreted as an ethnicity question and not one about religion at all, the most reliable data I have seen is the EU Social values, Science and Technology survey (Fieldwork: January - February 2005)

The graph from that shows 38% believe in god so not only not a christian country but not even a majority religious one either.