Methodology & Sources
 A page about the catholic range of websites surveyed

"In 1985 Douglas Adams
said the BBC’s view of the first series of
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was akin to Macbeth’s attitude to murder:

 Initial doubts, followed by cautious enthusiasm, then greater and greater alarm at the sheer scale of the undertaking."

Stephen Moss, Guardian Weekly
23 March 2018.

The OpenBooks Project had something of the same experience.

The initial browse was through just one UK diocese.  Then others were explored by way of comparison and confirmation.  Eventually websites around the world were included.  As study material, they are easy to access without needing a physical presence at mass, a noticeboard, or porch.  Open 24/7, they are free to visit without disturbing anyone.

A working knowledge of some languages was supplemented by on-line translation resources.  Whenever a website had an internal Search function, this was used to look for references to the term “1287” as the Roman numerals are common.

Most information was found on the websites.  In some cases Google or Yahoo was used – for example to look for diocesan procedures or where the diocese doesn't show a website for a big parish.



  • The Code of Canon Law 1983 on the Vatican website – in several languages, with a searchable function and statistics; the 1917 Code; the Code of the Eastern Church

  • The websites of about 60 national and regional Conferences of Bishops, as listed by Catholic News Service and GCatholic

  • The websites of all Catholic dioceses in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, France, Argentina – and some browsed in Australia, South Africa, Chile, the Philippines, and Oceania inter alia

  • USCCB Diocesan Financial Manual (A Guide to Best Practices) Updated April 2019

  • The Oficina de Transparencia of the Bishops’ Conference in Spain – for its annual socioeconomic report (available in an English version on-line)

  • The parish financial operating procedures or guidelines of Arundel & Brighton, Southwark, Hexham & Newcastle, Portsmouth, East Anglia, and Nottingham

  • Briefing notes for Brentwood’s parish finance conferences 2017 and 2018 – including Gift Aid data for 93 parishes

  • Portsmouth Diocese on-line and Directory parish Mass Attendance statistics 2003-17

  • The 2017 and 2018 Voice of the Faithful surveys of on-line financial transparency and accountability in all 177 Catholic Dioceses in the USA by; and the similar report on all dioceses in Ireland prepared by We Are Church Ireland in late 2017


  • The project included a look at all parishes listed on the websites of nine dioceses in England and Wales and Scotland, with samples of 10-50 in all others.

  • Where a parish website was shown, this was opened to see if it was active - for example, with the current week's Mass times, newsletter or bulletin. This was the case with most. Very occasionally, these would be way out date.

  • With each active website, a search made for data relating to finances - such as a finance committee page, annual report or accounts, names of committee members and/or minutes, and any other significant documents or information.

  • In most parishes with an active website, this carried a weekly newsletter or bulletin. Many of these were opened to see how the weekly offering is presented.

  • In all websites, a search was made for details of parish pastoral committees and their minutes or (in a few cases) details of their constitution.

  • About 30 randomly in the USA, Malta, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Spain, France

  • In one parish, 40+ Finance Committee Minutes 2010-Nov2017; 30 PPC Minutes Feb 2008 to June 2017; online accounts 2010-14; weekly newsletters 2014-18.



  • Her Majesty’s Revenues & Customs

  • The Charity Commission; including their Essentials for Trustees and annual financial reports of all Catholic dioceses, searchable on Register of Charities Beta-version site.

  • Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

  • Charity Commission for Northern Ireland

  • An Rialálaí Carthanas, Charity Regulator for Ireland

  • The on-line annual reports of about three dozen other charitable registered organisations, including Church of England parishes, and Methodist, Baptist, Free Church, Spiritualist, Jewish and Muslim and Buddhist communities

  • The Church of England’s Research & Statistics Unit report on parish finance statistics 2016

  • National Audit Office on Gift Aid

  • National Census 2011

  • The Office of National Statistics

  • Association of British Travel Agents

  • The Sutton Trust on students

  • National Leadership Roundtable

  • Association of Fundraising Organisations

  • Transparency International

  • National Council of Voluntary Organisations

  • Pew Research Centre on Religion and Public Life 

  • On-line Catholic and lay media and news services

  • A few blogs; Facebook slightly; not Twitter