POPE Benedict XVI was the first Pontiff to apologise to victims of clerical sex abuse, but a much-anticipated pastoral letter to the Irish church three years ago was sharply criticised by victims.
This is because it failed to address the long history of concealment by Irish bishops of sexual, physical and emotional abuse by priests, nuns and Catholic orders over decades, with accusations that the Vatican had dodged responsibility for failing to tackle the issue.
The letter was published in March 2010, and in it the Pope acknowledged the sense of betrayal by victims and their families.
There had been "serious mistakes" among bishops in responding to allegations of paedophilia, he said, telling victims: "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry.
"Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated... I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel," he wrote.
The letter also criticised procedures in selecting candidates for the priesthood and the actions of bishops who failed to report paedophile priests to the gardai because of the need to avoid scandal.
There was reference to "a misplaced concern for the reputation of the church and the avoidance of scandal".
"Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing," he wrote.
But it failed to acknowledge victims in other countries despite the church openly saying that it was a global problem.
He also did not call for the resignation of any bishops, despite a series of government reports highlighting how many had failed to confront abusive priests. He said those guilty of abuse must "answer before God and properly constituted tribunals for the sinful and criminal actions they have committed".