The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has told UTV he was ashamed and shocked by the revelations of a report into 30 years of child abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.

UTV News
Thursday, 26 2009

"I’m deeply ashamed and shocked at the abuse revealed in today’s report and I want to apologise to those who suffered abuse and to their families", the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, said.

"I also want to apologise to the people of this country that the abuse was covered up and that the reputation of the church was sometimes placed above the safety and well-being of the children."

On Thursday night, the head of the Dublin Archdiocese, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, branded the revelations revolting, adding no words of apology would ever be sufficient for the horrifying abuse.

Archbishop Martin said he was offering his shame and sorrow to survivors and claimed the Archdiocese had failed to recognise the theft of childhood.

The senior cleric said the paedophile priests were devious in their attempts to excuse and deny sickening attacks.

"I would appeal to each of those people who are named in the commission as having acted in a way which put children in peril to assess their behaviour in past and behaviour today," he said.

Archbishop Martin said the numbers of victims were likely to be much higher than known.

He handed over more than 5,000 secret Church documents to the Commission in January last year, sparking a legal battle involving Cardinal Desmond Connell.

The Cardinal tried to block the publication claiming they were legally privileged or confidential.

The Archbishop declined to be drawn on whether Cardinal Connell should step aside.

"I’m pleased to see that over the last few days the judgment of Cardinal Connell is not as black and white, or almost in the black that it was over a period of time," he said.

"He’s a man who struggled with his own personal make-up and his own conscience and came out earlier than most bishops on the right side.

"Give people credit for the good things they do."

On Thursday night, Cardinal Connell asked for forgiveness from the abuse victims who suffered at the hands of paedophile priests under his control.

The senior cleric said he was distressed and bewildered that those in such a sacred position could be responsible for the heinous crimes.

The frail 83-year-old, who was among four Archbishops criticised for not handing over information to authorities on abusers, said the abuse of children was an unspeakable crime.

"Although I am all too aware that such apologies and expressions of regret can never be adequate as a response to so much hurt and violation, and, in any case, lose value through repetition, I apologise again now from my heart," he said in a statement.

"The abuse of children is an unspeakable crime," he continued.

Although critical of the Cardinal, the report gave him credit for instigating two secret canon law trials, despite strong opposition from one of the most powerful canonists in the Archdiocese, Monsignor Sheehy.

They led to two priests being defrocked.

In 1995 he also handed over files on 17 suspect priests to gardai, although it was later revealed he was aware of at least 28 at the time.

Survivors have demanded the Cardinal and other senior figures face a criminal investigation.

© UTV News