Bishops have arrived at the Vatican for a two-day summit with the Pope on a paedophilia scandal that has shaken devoutly Roman Catholic Ireland.
Damning reports have revealed the Church covered up decades of child abuse by priests.
Benedict XVI summoned the Irish bishops to discuss plans for action. They insist the meeting is not just a cosmetic exercise.
“This has done immense damage to the authority of the Church as the mouthpiece of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of that, there is no doubt,” said Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher. “Our business is to try to repair that damage and to restore confidence.”
A ‘culture of cover up’ has been denounced by victims’ groups in the wake of the investigations. The Church’s prominent role in Irish life was one reason why abuses were allowed to go unchecked, according to one report.
Catholic-run orphanages and schools are at the centre of a scandal that has already seen four bishops offer their resignations.
The Pope is to write to the Irish people about the crisis that comes amid separate clergy abuse scandals in the US and in his homeland, Germany.