CARDINAL Desmond Connell has asked for forgiveness from child sex 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.
The cardinal said, from the time he became aware of this history, he had experienced distress and bewilderment that those placed in a position of sacred trust could be guilty of such heinous offences and caused such appalling harm to vulnerable young people.
“The abuse of children is an unspeakable crime,” he said.
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 gardaí, although it was later revealed he was aware of at least 28 at the time.
Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Seán Brady said he was shocked and ashamed by the abuse of children.
“I want to apologise to all those who have been hurt and their families. I also want to apologise to all the people of Ireland that this abuse was covered up and that the reputation of the Church was put before the safety and wellbeing of children.”
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