The Pope has ordered that the Irish Catholic Church clamp down on secular values and restore a traditional sense of respect among ordinary Catholics for priests, according to informed Church sources.
Priests will be told not to question in public official Church teaching on controversial issues such as the papal ban on birth control or the admission of divorced Catholics living with new partners to the sacraments, especially Holy Communion.
Theologians will be expected to teach traditional doctrine by constantly preaching to lay Catholics of attendance at Mass and to return to the practice of regular confession largely abandoned by adults since the 1960s.
An emphasis will be placed on an evangelisation campaign to overcome the alienation of young people scandalised by the spate of sexual abuse of children and by later cover-ups of paedophile clerics by leaders of the institutional church.
A major thrust of the Vatican investigation will be to counteract materialistic and secularist attitudes which Pope Benedict believes has led many Irish Catholics to ignore Church disciplines and become lax in following devotional practices such as going on pilgrimages and doing penance.
Bishops and priests will be instructed to preach to their congregations the unchanging message of Jesus Christ about love, healing and repentance.
While the restoration of Church discipline and pious practices such as praying to Our Lady and the saints will be welcomed by regular churchgoers, the Vatican investigation is likely to face a backlash from liberal Catholics who want more accountability and democracy in church decision-making.
Vatican officials are finalising the precise terms of the instructions for the investigators named last week by Pope Benedict who initiated an 'Apostolic Visitation' last March in his pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.
The nine investigators are clearing their diaries to visit Ireland's four principal archdioceses, the national seminaries and study centres run by religious orders in the autumn.