I've been watching the Would You Believe? discussion and I have not been surprised. There are the usual predictable liberals: Frs. Enda McDonagh, Tony Flannery, Brain Grogan, (would be priest) Soline Vatinel, plus the ombudman Nuala O'Lone, a journalist from the Irish Catholic, a few Irish bishops including retired bishop Willie Walsh, and bishop John Kirby. There was the token gay Catholic, one of four people who were asked to write to the Pope (as if the Pope doesn't get enough post and those letters were likely to get past curia officials in Rome). It was typical RTE religious fare - work up the drama and exaggerate the issues.
My experience is that while the Irish Church is in trouble (but then when has the Church ever not been in trouble?) the people I meet are far more worried about keeping their children away from drugs and bad company, as well as in school/employment and ensuring that they have some faith/value system to get them through life.
Surely talk of changing structures is really a resort to clericalism, to wit 'the system is wrong (not us) change the system and all will be well'. Has that actually worked anywhere? Some people want power sharing; how that is supposed to work would be interesting to hear and would the representatives be paid? Has that worked for the Anglicans? Have these people forgotten that Christ spoke of a kingdom? It's His Kingdom, His Church, and His Body and kingdom's have Kings, with hierachies etc, the body has a central nervous system with a brain and the Church has a hierarchy, a system that goes back all the way to the Apostles and through them to Christ. He established it and the way it is comes from the way He established it and so the Church is ruled by her clergy. That rule is not meant to be like that of the world - it is supposed to be a service - but we are sinners and sometimes clergy behave like lords not servants.
Blaming Rome is easy especially when one has spent the last forty years ingoring Rome. Didn't bishop Willie Walsh once say he threw everything from Rome in the bin? Some of the clergy on the show, for all their heartfelt talk, have been in positions of power and influence all the while that the abuse was occuring - have they no questions to answer? In addition they have been spreading their liberalism and the crop is nearly ripe for harvest. Never before has the Irish Church had such an educated laity and yet such levels of ignorance of her beliefs and traditions. The people and clergy of the Church have been bombarded for years with propaganda that opposes the teaching of the Church and discouraged from even accessing that teaching. Simply put many are Catholic in name but de facto protestants in practice.
In addition there remains that old-style belief in the absolute power of the Pope, an echo of the respect that attached to the likes of Popes Pius XII and John XXIII. In reality that respect has long been abandoned and many bishops, clergy and laity around the world have for years simply ignored the Papacy. Now people expect that the Pope can snap his fingers and they'll all pay attention. If they had actually been listening and implementing Church teaching and discipline many of the abuseres would've been ejected long ago. That discipline was ignored and we are suffering the results.
Things are going to get rough in Ireland. The Church may split or large groups may break off. Perhaps it will be like the days of Iconoclasm where the Church was hit by waves of heresy before she achieved peace. The liberals have gotten wind that Benedict is capable of building on the work of John Paul II and real implementation of Vatican II (the real one, the one in the texts not the imaginary 'spirit of Vatican II' version) is on the way, a Vatican II understood in continuity with the Church's tradition not in rupture with it. Hopefully the Apostolic Visitation will make a difference.
Well, I for one stand with the Pope even if I'm the only one.