Social isolation, disengagement and separation are very real problems in today’s Britain. Whereas once we had much more of a common culture – even if divided within it by class, politics and tribe – today’s materialistic culture seems to feed into individualism and the accentuation of differences. The internet gives us the advantage of finding people with common interests with greater ease, but on the other hand Britons grow less and less likely to know their neighbours, especially those on the more elderly end of the spectrum.

The influx of immigrants into Great Britain over the past few decades has only added further layers of complications to these already existing problems, and part of the Government’s response has been to appoint an “integration tsar” to oversee efforts to prevent the ghetto-isation of newcomers to the UK.

This state-led integration effort, however, runs the risk of trying to “integrate” newcomers to a vision of the country and of the world that many long-standing Britons either have strong reservations about or indeed reject completely.

As a long-standing and formerly persecuted minority, Catholics should take note of the integration tsar’s recent appearance before the communities and local government select committee in the House of Commons.

For example, Dame Louise states that it is obvious that people must be able to choose “to live the lives that they want to live” but added the important proviso that “they cannot condemn others for living differently”. The example she gives is that Catholic schools must not be allowed to be homophobic or “anti-gay marriage”.

To start with, linking opposition to same-sex civil marriage to homophobia is profoundly philosophically ignorant. The sexual attractions or orientations of potential spouses are not of primary concern when it comes to the Catholic view of marriage, but rather the biological reality of the difference between male and female sexes. As such, we don’t “oppose” gay marriage, but view it as an impossibility.

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