The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has expressed regret for accusing the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland of “losing all credibility” over its handling of child sex abuse cases.
Williams, the spiritual leader of Anglicans worldwide, made the comments in an interview with the BBC.
His remarks represent unusually frank criticism of another church and drew an stern response from Archbishop of Dublin Diarmiud Martin.
“A major Church leader has to be more careful about the things he says,” Martin said in an interview.
“Obviously the Church in Ireland has lost credibility, it’s very damaging to those who are trying to restore credibility to be simply wiped off with a general comment like that,” he added.
Williams later telephoned Martin to apologise for any offence caused to the Church in Ireland.
Catholic officials there have been criticised for allegedly covering up of sexual abuse by priests in the 1970s.
Among them is its head, Cardinal Sean Brady, who is said to have been present when victims took a vow of silence not to tell anyone about their ordeal.