Apparently, the best way for the Catholic Church to renew itself is to become less Catholic. That is the clear implication of the demands that the church's critics have been making of it since the publication of the Murphy report.
The Church must allow married clergy, they insist. It must allow women clergy. It must radically change its teaching on sexuality. It must allow inter-communion. It must allow divorced and remarried people to receive the sacraments.
It must give the laity a say in deciding doctrine. National panels of lay people, appointed by the State, must approve the appointment of bishops. It must even approve of women's "right" to abortion.
Short of declaring itself independent of Rome, not one item in the above list can or will be introduced by the Church in Ireland because none are within its power to introduce.
Only by leaving the Catholic Church, by declaring itself to be no longer part of the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church", in union with the Pope, can the Church in Ireland accede to any of these demands. Therefore, what is being demanded is, in effect, that it become another Protestant Church, and a very liberal one at that.
But let's suppose the Church in Ireland was somehow forced down the path demanded by these critics, would it lead to renewal? No, it would lead to its opposite. We know this for an absolute and certain fact because while there are flourishing churches that are Protestant, nowhere is there a flourishing church that is both Protestant and liberal.
Scour the world, if you will. Search every nook and cranny. Seek out a liberal church with a large and healthy membership, with lots of vocations, one that has attracted the lapsed back to the flock and that has a strong influence on public life. You won't find any.
Instead you will find that these churches have been stripped almost bare of two distinct categories of members. First are those who have imbibed the secularism all around them and who have left organised religion altogether.
The second category is all those worshippers who did not succumb to secularism but who became alienated as their churches abandoned one core teaching after another in favour of often very extreme brands of theological liberalism.
Many in this second category have instead joined churches that are more traditional in their teachings. Meanwhile, the abandonment of core beliefs that was intended to win back the first category utterly failed to do so because the vast majority of these had given up an interest in religion of any kind.
The way for the Catholic Church in Ireland to renew itself is to become more fully and authentically Catholic.
Very many people think they know what the Church teaches, and why, but often they don't and who can blame them, as they have often been subject to poor catechesis in schools, bland sermons in church, and to silence from the bishops on many of the controversial issues of the day.
In the theological institutes Catholics are as likely to encounter the New Age as the teachings of the Magisterium. Dissent from some of the most fundamental teachings of the Church among theologians is extremely widespread.
About this most of the bishops do far too little. The reasons are various. Some bishops are quite liberal themselves. Others are scared of how the media would react if they cleaned out the theological institutes in their dioceses. Still others simply lack the stomach for a fight.
The 'Irish Times' recently advised bishops to be less like shepherds and more like the "servants of the citizens". Bishops need to be more like shepherds because a shepherd is supposed to serve his flock to the point of laying down his life for it. At a minimum this has to mean protecting the flock from abusers. But it also means protecting it from what the New Testament calls "false teachers".
What the Church needs above all else are authentically Catholic teachers who know how to articulate what the Church has to say on all the issues of the day and can do so convincingly and without fear or favour. Would this bring people flocking back to the churches? No, because a large section of the Irish population is now so secularised you might as well hope for unionists to become nationalists and vice versa.
But it would help ensure that the 46pc of us who do still go to Mass each week have a better understanding and appreciation of our faith, which in turn would lead to better practice of the faith. This is the very definition of renewal. The alternative path recommended by the Church's critics could only lead to its final annihilation.