The Irish Catholic Church is on the verge of national collapse, the Pope will be told in a confidential new church report.
The report warns that if the church does not give laymen and women a greater say in decision-making its possible that in five to ten years it will lose its relevancy in Irish life.
The dire warning will be submitted to Pope Benedict XVI by an international investigator tasked with examining the state of the Irish church in the wake of the Murphy and Ryan reports into child abuse by clerics.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, sounded the alarm recently when addressing the annual meeting of The People of God, a lay reform group.
O'Malley told the association that the Irish church had a decade at most to avoid falling over the edge and "becoming like other European countries" where religion is marginal to the society.
Meanwhile the Association of Catholic Priests says it's ready to campaign for radical change, but it is apprehensive that this would be viewed as what it called "a new clericalism."
The association's stated preference was for lay groups to come forward and give voice to the aspirations of the majority of Catholics for change.