Aye, that all be true. There is clearly a massive disconnect between the hierarchy and the people in the pews...I saw a poll last week that showed 55% of American Catholics support gay marriage (as I do, incidentally) which is unthinkable to the Pope and his cardinals.
They need to temper the rhetoric or risk alienating Catholics further.
I think the new Pope has done a very good job in his first week...the humble, modest tone and his obvious willingness to associate himself with his followers is very positive. You just know he's not far away from coming out with a mad, inflammatory comment about abortion or gays though.
Bolded part I had no idea. All the more so as in Portugal Catholics seem to be very much in line with the Catholic hierarchy's rules regarding moral and family issues. What the Portuguese Catholics seem to wish for is to be allowed more of a say in the way the Church as an institution is run, and/or for it to allow for a more personal, and less formal/institutional, religious experience.
The Catholic Church in Portugal nowadays is an old fashioned social network for the upper middle classes more than anything else - starting with the escuteiros
(a Boy Scout organization ran by the Catholic Church; there's an older, non-Catholic Boy Scout group named escoteiros
which remains in the shadow of its much larger Catholic counterpart) and then with youth debating groups in every parish, supposedly for prayer and biblical discussion, but whose main purpose is for teenagers to find future husbands/wives among proper fellow Catholics.