A LEADING priest has called for the Catholic Church to halt the recruitment of clergy in light of the child sex abuse scandals.
Fr Aidan Troy, who came to international prominence when he walked with Ardoyne schoolchildren through loyalist protests in north Belfast, said the Church needed to "halt recruitment, reform and reorganise".
He said the hierarchy had been responsible for a "wholly inadequate response to the horrendous abuse that has been uncovered" and that they should not engage in "window dressing", but instead take radical action.
Fr Troy was the parish priest of the Holy Cross church in north Belfast during 2002 when ugly scenes of sectarian hatred and violence saw Catholic parents having to escort their children to school under heavy security in a hardline loyalist area.
Now based in Paris, he said that he was "ashamed" at the Church's reaction to the Ryan report into child sexual abuse in institutions run by the religious orders.
"It has been more about improving the Church's image than tackling fundamental problems," he said.
"In the 1970s I was sent around schools to recruit pupils to the priesthood. I couldn't do that now. Back then, parents were delighted if their sons chose to become priests. Now, most would understandably oppose it and try to talk them out of it."
A spokesman for the Catholic Church said a national office for the safe-guarding of children had been set up by the Church, missionaries and religious orders.
"An inadequate response may have been correct some time ago, but not in recent years," he said.