In 1996 the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham, commissioned a research project called "Authority and Governance in the Roman Catholic Church". This project was sponsored by Derwent (now known as Porticus UK) and the research was undertaken by various bodies involved in the Roman Catholic Church.
The aim of the project was to research into authority and governance within the Roman Catholic Church in England, Scotland and Wales. The project involved conversations, interviews and conferences with around 1000 people from the Roman Catholic faith, including members of the clergy and lay people.
A part of the project used diocesan and parish case studies, consisting of interviews with clergy and laity from five dioceses in England and Scotland, which looked at the local impact of governance and authority in the Roman Catholic Church during periods of change or transition.
Overall, the main subjects investigated by the project were:
- The model church as it operated locally in comparison to the official diocesan model.
- The engagement of the parish with diocesan structures and personnel and parish leadership.
- Parish leadership, this included lay participation and formation and mission.
Research by the project also covered controversial subjects within the Roman Catholic Church, such as celibacy, the ordination of women, and sacramental participation for divorced and remarried members of the church.
Findings from the project were shared in several publications, and through a conference held at Robinson College, Cambridge in June 2000.