16 Sep 2010

Another cover-up at the Vatican?

So the cardinal in charge of relations between Christian faiths inside the Vatican for the past decade thinks Britain “sometimes feels like a third world country” and suffers from “a new aggressive atheism”.

Cardinal Kaspar says exactly that to a German magazine in an interview given to coincide with the Pope’s visit to the United Kingdom. This is the guy who sits down with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s people to plan the trip, to work out how a Catholic pontiff will handle a visit to a country in which another brand of Christianity – the Anglican church (woven into the very fabric of the British constitution) is sorted out.

Although he is in the course of retiring from his inter- Christian faith office in the Vatican, Kaspar has been Pope Benedict’s point man for this trip. This was to have been his swan song. So much so that last night the cardinal was to be found at a banquet thrown in his honour by the German embassy in Rome.

It was at the very moment that the German ambassador was welcoming his prestigious guest across the threshold of his embassy last night that the Vatican press office was letting it be known that Cardinal Kaspar was suddenly too ill to travel to Britain. Reportedly, he has a bout of gout.

Is this a Vatican cover-up? A lack of preparedness to apologise and admit that the reason Kaspar is not coming is that having committed so undiplomatic anoffence, the Pope refuses to absent him from the trip himself and allows him instead to slink off pleading illness. What a painful business his banquet must have been for him last night.

Does it all perhaps have the ring of the tortuous terminological inexactitudes we revealed last night on Channel 4 News when it comes to the church’s handling of it paedophile priests? Even heavy jail sentences upon conviction in English courts for paedophile crimes are not enough to defrock these men.

The church has new rules to ensure that they are “laicised” as a “norm”, but strangely 14 of the most recent 22 English Catholic priests to be convicted of serious child abuse crimes are still priests – one of them 10 years after he was released after serving a three year jail sentence.



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