Whether intended so or not, Cardinal Kasper’s reported comments about flying into the UK being like arriving in a third world country, a country marked by a new and aggressive atheism, have created quite a stir around the world.
Sometimes we prefer to avoid confronting what may be an uncomfortable truth, but Spirit is very good at presenting to us what it would serve us to to consider nonetheless. Looking at a situation clearly and with discernment, unbiased by the opinion of others, helps to remind us of our own beliefs and beingness, as well as seeing the world around us without illusion or judgment.
It is not known what the cardinal was referring to in his reference to third world countries, but it could be interpreted in a couple of ways. First, he could have been saying that there is a wide and diverse ethnic mix in Britain, which is true of course. Some see it as a blessing, others believe that immigration has gone too far, but either way in his comment the Cardinal has touched a nerve. How does Britain look to an outside visitor? Does it matter?
Alternatively, he could have been commenting on the state of the airports and the infrastructure. Some of our older airport terminals and other facilities could indeed do with a makeover, and if the Cardinal causes BAA to reflect on how welcoming our airports are, then he will have done some good!
The accusation of aggressive atheism is far less ambivalent. It may be the Cardinal was reflecting on the dwindling membership of organised religions in the UK, and I suspect that behind his words is the assumption that anyone who is not such a member must be an atheist, someone who believes God does not exist. His words may reflect also a fear within the established churches of the growing spiritual movement - not spiritualist, that is quite different - and the desire for spiritual independence and freedom of belief and practice by increasing numbers of people. For the first time in aeons men and women are talking openly about aspects of spirituality which are anathema to the Church because they challenge established doctrine and established religion while empowering individuals to be who they are in their humanity and their divinity.
Yes, there is secularity in Britain, epitomised by materialism and driven by choice and ignorance, but the existence of that secularity helps to highlight the alternatives, just as the the darkness helps us appreciate the light. Without darkness we would take the light for granted. Through my work as a spiritual teacher I see how fast and how far the true spiritual movement is growing, not just in the UK but all over the world. Some people forget that spirituality is all about kindness, what is in our hearts, how we live our life, speaking and being our truth. It is far more than words and ritual.
We live in a material world, and our challenge, opportunity and joy is to do so fully, humanely and therefore divinely. If this is what is happening in Britain, and elsewhere, then I welcome it with all my heart.