About the project
This project will provide a wide-ranging and in-depth study of Roman Catholics and Catholicism in contemporary Britain, at a time of religious change and ongoing secularisation within wider society. There have been significant internal and external developments which have affected the institutional church and Roman Catholic community in Britain, which could have shaped how Catholics think about and engage with their faith. This research addresses a major gap in scholarly knowledge of the Roman Catholic community in Britain, investigating how large-scale secularising trends have affected and are being mediated within this faith community.
The project involves a new survey being undertaken of adult Roman Catholics in Britain (aged 18 and older), living in England, Scotland and Wales. The core topics consist of personal faith, religiosity and associational involvement in parish life; attitudes towards leadership and governance within the institutional church; attitudes on social and moral issues; and political attitudes and engagement.
The main objectives are as follows:
First, to identify and measure the multiple dimensions of adult Roman Catholics’ personal faith, and to examine the interconnections between them. This involves examining the nature and extent of religious identity and commitment, theological beliefs, relationship with God, religious practices and associational involvement in parish life.
Second, to examine adult Roman Catholics’ attitudes towards leadership and governance at different levels within the institutional church, including the leadership’s handling of important issues.
Third, to assess the views of adult Roman Catholics towards church teachings on social issues and on moral issues. The latter would include a range of moral questions on which the institutional church has clear and longstanding positions.
Fourth, to examine the political attitudes and engagement of Roman Catholics adults, including voting behaviour, views on key issues, and participation in political activity.
More generally, the project has a strong focus on assessing how Catholics’ socio-demographic background and religious commitment shape their attitudes towards leadership and governance, social and moral issues, and their political engagement.
The findings from this project will make an important contribution to the sociology of religion in Britain in general and the study of the Roman Catholic community in particular.