The
OpenBooks
Project

exploring financial transparency in theory & practice
in Catholic parishes in the UK
and way beyond
"Transparency and a culture of accountability are of crucial importance for us to move forward in building a synodal Church. We ask local churches to identify processes and structures that allow for a regular audit of how priests and deacons are carrying out roles of responsibility in the exercise of their ministry."

Proposal k) in Section 11 - Deacons and Priests in a Synodal Church - of the
Synthesis Report from the Synod in Rome October 2023
     
   
Welcome to an
eyebrow-raising
browse
 


The Project Library of brief briefings










A PRIEST'S APPRECIATION OF HIS PARISH - 10 YEARS ON! That unusual take on transparency and synodality is now on-line further down this page

As you'll see from the Bishops' Briefing documents library (left and below), the OpenBooks Project is my unique, long-running and eyebrow-raising contribution to the understanding of financial transparency & accountability today in Catholic parishes and dioceses - mostly in the UK but reaching far and wide. A sort of one-person synod, you might say.

As a non-academic and independent pew-based explorer, I've had the aim of helping make sure that "The Books" are open to those who fund much of them. That millions of quid given by parishioners get a proper pro quo.

The main research resource for me has been open and free - the contents of 1800+ websites - mostly UK parishes, but including all UK dioceses and most bishop's conferences worldwide. Plus many of the synodal pathway reports from parishes, diocesan and national syntheses, and the Vatican publications. So you can have a look for yourself.

 

They've been combed for evidence of the appreciation and observance of the 1983 Code of Canon Law 1287 2. This requires parish priests to provide reports on parish finances to their parishioners - not just to the bishop as c1287 1 and UK charity law demand. It was a completely new duty for the clergy and right of the laity in the spirit of Vatican II - created and painstakingly honed by experts right from the start of revising the 1917 Code, and then affirmed worldwide.

Canon 392 1 seems clear on bishops' accountability: a bishop is bound to promote the common discipline of the whole Church and therefore to urge the observance of all ecclesiastical laws.  So the question you might well ask is: how do UK bishops urge the observance of Canon Law 1287 2?
 

On UK parish websites, there's scant evidence of those obligatory reports - in some dioceses, none at all. There's rarely finance or other committee minutes or parish AGM, or other signs of financial transparency as a facet of good stewardship. Nearly all show you how to give more money, and this is a constant appeal by bishops and parish clergy and advisors. Yet somehow they don't appreciate the duty to give the givers something in return: information, thanks, respect.

 

So it was no surprise to find concerns about transparency and accountability surfacing in the 2022 Synodal Pathway parish reports, diocesan and national syntheses - and the first report from the Synod itself.  The Project shows that it's possible to answer these with simple actions - and intentions.

There's a  library of OpenBooks Project briefings for bishops - and anyone else

You'll find this on a separate page - with PDFs on:

  • Financial Transparency Policy for any UK diocese October 2023

  • Project Summary & Suggestions October/November 2022

  • Vatican, We Have a Problem - June 2023

  • Birmingham UK v Birmingham USA - transparency differences in dioceses

  • Helping Synodality Live in Liverpool

  • Witnesses Statement - contribution to the Portsmouth diocesan 10-year plan

  • Priest's appreciation of parish - 10 years on!

  • and more to follow...

With all best wishes

 

Hugh Gibbons

Creator, Conductor and, ahem,

Expostulator of The OpenBooks Project


The OpenBooks Project at www.just1.org.uk/openbooksproject
is one of the unusual activities of
Hugh Gibbons under the title


www.just1.org.uk

Contact
hughgibbons@just1.org.uk

This page last updated
18 November 2023

 





  On any matter here, you're welcome to contact
hughgibbons@just1.org.uk

 
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