Both Ireland and to a lesser extent Germany are experiencing a huge hemorrhage of laypeople from the pews. I can understand, even sympathise with, Irish clergy who look around them and see all that has been built up by previous generations lying dust and ashes, and feeling that the status quo just doesn't work, that continuing on the present path is disasterous.
For Catholics elsewhere there may be less scandals, less need for society to shake off DeValera Church/State legacy but the situation is similar, the status quo simply doesn't work. There seem to be three possible answers:
- do nothing except to contain problems, which seems to be what the Irish bishops are accused of and is I suppose the conservative position.
- Leave or distance oneself from the sinking ship, which is what most laypeople tend to do, in which case the Church becomes irrelevant except for rites of passage
- If one loves the Church then one moves either towards the "left" or the "right".
The movement to the "right" looks either to the pre-Concilliar period or further back, seeing VII as continuity. It stands in contradiction to the world. It sees God as directly communicating through the Church, which is a divinely given structure. Scripture, Tradition, the Magisterium, the Heirarchy are all there to reveal God. It is anti-popularist, God is an objective reality who has a right to man's service.
What is agreed on is that the centre does not hold, there is a need for change and reform, "the right" understands this as well "the left" but it will claim that God has revealed himself once and for all in Jesus Christ. That the Church needs purification but this comes from penance and catechesis by a return to, not a jettisoning of Tradition. One of the things "the left" calls for is the appointment of bishops locally, it seems to be something the Pope would be very much in favour of but only if the electors are likely to appoint Catholics who are capable of passing on the fullness of that which is revealed.
Ultimately the question is about God and our understanding of Him.