Things got off to a not-so-cracking start for Pope Benedict XVI’s U.K. tour after a member of his entourage, one Cardinal Walter Kasper, compared Britain to a “Third World country” just hours before Team Vatican prepared for arrival Thursday. –KA

The Guardian:

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the senior Catholic who prompted controversy on the eve of Pope Benedict’s visit by comparing Britain to a third world country, has refused to apologise for his comments, his spokesman said today.

Kasper, 77, the Vatican’s leading expert on relations with the Church of England, told a German magazine: “When you arrive at Heathrow you think at times that you’ve landed in a third world country.”

Hours before the Pope flew to Scotland early today to start his four-day visit to the UK, Kasper’s withdrawal from the trip for health reasons was announced.

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