Sexual abuse scandals are causing a lot of people to lose confidence in the Pope. There are striking results from yesterday's poll of Germans, which found that "even among Catholics, only a minority trusted the church or the Pope. Only 39 per cent had confidence in the Pope, down from 62 per cent at the end of January, and 34 per cent trusted the church, down from 56 per cent." If it's true that they did nothing about the priest who molested 200 deaf children (was he trying to set a record or something?) the loss of confidence is warranted.
I think the best reasons for opposing the church hierarchy have to do with their policies on contraception, which cause massive suffering in poor parts of the world. The Pope goes to Africa and says things like "It is of great concern that the fabric of African life, its very source of hope and stability, is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraception mentality." From the point of view of human welfare, of these things are not like the others. Condoms prevent people from dying of AIDS or having children they can't support -- both of which are huge problems in that part of the world. Somebody who uses his position of authority to liken the "contraception mentality" to human trafficking should be despised by anyone who cares about people.
As I've said before, I admire American Catholics for thinking for themselves about what's right and wrong, and rejecting many of the views of the church hierarchy. If there was some way to replace the pedophile-protecting, contraception-opposing old men of the church hierarchy with randomly selected Catholic men and women off the streets of Boston and El Paso, it would become a far more admirable institution.