The Future of the Catholic Church in Britain
July 8, 2006

1. Introduction

The Church in Britain is in crisis with declining attendance, patchy commitment among adherents, child abuse scandals and challenges to authority. It needs new solutions if it is to have a future. The case for new strategic thinking.

2. Counting the decline

A presentation of decline. A range of statistics on membership, attendance, vocations and finance is presented in the context of wider society.

3. Spreading the good news

Contrasted with the actual evidence for decline is the Christian call to spread the good news. The concept of Catholic evangelisation and a surprising historical example provide lessons for today. Elements for a strategy for evangelisation are discussed.

4. Getting the message across

The controversial issues of liturgy, authority, communication, and the media. Concepts of communication and relationship are discussed, and compared with how the Church actually communicates. The Church's approach is critiqued in a constructive way and solutions are presented.

5. Protecting our children

The child abuse scandal from the 1970s to the present day is recounted in detail for the first time. This chapter relies on original research and reveals that the tendency to cover up has deep historical roots. Suggestions for how the Nolan Review's recommendations can be revised. The Church needs to acknowledge the specific aspects of Catholic culture that have contributed to abuse, and initiate genuine cultural change.

6. Leading the Church

The root causes of the bishops' inability to set a clear direction are analysed. The careers of bishops and secretive method of appointing them are brought into the open. The Church's leadership criteria are compared with modern management theory and found lacking, and lessons are drawn.

7. Culture and change

Change has long been a dirty word in the Church, but it has been a continuous feature of history. Some aspects of the culture of British Catholicism must be changed in a planned way. Two areas are discussed where people have felt marginalised: the role of women, and homosexuality. Finally, four factors that explain resistance to change are described.

8. The enemy within

The most serious barrier to change is fear. The Church should be a beacon of hope, and that starts with addressing fear and lack of faith.

9. A new opportunity

The papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are evaluated.

10. Planning the future

Twenty four recommendations are set out. They draw on the whole book and are all constructive suggestions that will help bring about positive and beneficial differences.

11. A dynamic crucible

Final remarks emphasising the overarching themes of the report and the crucial role of the Spirit in stimulating living religion.

ISBN 0 9553026 0 9


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.