The NYT magazine has a good article about the fall-out from the Catholic Church abuse scandals that took place in Ireland. Church attendance has now fallen 50% over the past 30 years and there are more priests over 70 than under 40. The response from the Vatican has been heavy-handed and top-down: the most prominent local reformer within the church, archbishop Diarmuid Martin, has been passed over for promotion and is now shunned by other bishops.
What I wonder with stories like this is what kind of plan does the Catholic Church have for the future? Young people are leaving the church in droves throughout the west, partly in response to the scandals and the fact that the church hierarchy functions as a proxy for the conservative movement in many parts of the western world (e.g., here). Is the plan just to double down on cover-ups and right-wing theology? Do conservatives ever do anything other than double down anymore?
Update. Morzer has a good summary of the Vatican’s plan, such as it is:
They’ve shown you the plan very clearly over the last 20 years. Pack the upper levels of the church hierarchy with known conservatives, select a conservative as pope, no significant rethinking of theology, roll back the remains of Vatican II, occasional ecumenical gestures while trying to undermine other churches and pick off their angry conservative splinter sects, bring back the formerly unacceptable conservative kooks, raise as much money as possible, put on lots of son et lumiere for the gullible masses, and cling to what they have as grimly and arrogantly as possible. This is exactly what they did under John Paul II, and Benedict was chosen to carry on the good work, so to speak. Ultimately, it will be a losing game, but these things take time.