Fr John Corrigan suggests that many other governments might well follow Ireland's lead and that the Church's real authority comes from the voter in the pew.
Fr John is right of course but the problem is that in Europe after 40 years of the liberal ascendancy most Catholics are unsure of what the Church teaches, and what of it they accept, most especially on moral issues. Even amongst the clergy not only is there ignorance but out and out descent, a quarter of the Irish clergy have signed up to the agenda of Association of Catholic Priests, these are hardly the men who would run to the barricades to defend marriage, or the place of the child in society, or even the person of Jesus Christ, or even the poor, at least not under the Church's banner.
The weakness of the faith in the pew means that at an international level the Church is weak but it is not just in weakness the parish, it appears that on a national level we have substituted access for influence. Catholic leaders hobnobbing with ministers is never a good substitute fo the real threat of a loss of votes or much better voters understanding what the Church teaches and being able and willing to articulate it.