Pope adviser brands UK ‘Third World country’

An advisor to the Pope has pulled out of his upcoming trip to the UK after branding it a “Third World country”.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, 77, made the remarks to a German magazine. He also said the UK was in the grip of “a new and aggressive atheism”.

“When you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country,” he was quoted as telling Germany’s Focus magazine.

Reports noted that he also criticised British Airways, who were recently embroiled in a court case over an employee who wore a crucifix.

When you wear a cross on the airline “you are discriminated against”, he was quoted as saying.

“It is completely untrue that we discriminate against Christians or members of any faith,” British Airways said.

The Vatican said the cardinal had not intended his comments to be a slight and that he was referring to the UK’s multiculturalism.

The church said he pulled out of the trip on the advice of his doctors after being diagnosed with gout.

The Pope arrives in the UK tomorrow for the start of his trip.