Or is it still a civilised, Christian country that leads the way on many moral issues?

Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs at Westminster archdiocese, said in an interview with Zenit that Britain was a “selfish, hedonistic wasteland” and the “epicentre of the culture of death”.

His comments were picked up by the Independent, the Telegraph, and the Guardian. A spokesman for Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said they did “not reflect the archbishop’s opinions”.

Yet most people would agree that Britain is a fairly selfish, consumerist and sexualised society. All Catholics lament the high rate of abortion. And the calls for legal euthanasia are persistent and growing stronger.

Last year Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor urged the Government to create a national moral council “to rediscover the things that make for a healthy society”. He was backed by Abbot Christopher Jamison, who said consumer culture had “taken over our spiritual world”.

On the other hand, as Joan Smith said in a column for the Independent, Britain is a marvellously tolerant and civilised place when compared to countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China.

So, is Britain a moral wasteland? Or is it a reasonably ethical society with a deep Christian heritage?