The Primate of All Ireland says the church needs to seriously consider the way its authorities dealt with clerical sex abuse.
Cardinal Sean Brady made the comments during a service at St Patrick's Church in Dundalk in Louth today.
Brady said he had spent a lot of time listening to how abuse survivors suffered at the hands of the clergy.
The Primate of All Ireland said he was realised it was not easy for them to share their experience but said the listening would have to continue.
Brady said the church needs to consider seriously the way its authorities dealt with what had happened.
He also reiterated his acceptance that the country's bishops failed, sometimes grievously, in their response to the crime of child abuse.