THE head of the Catholic church in Dublin has said Catholicism cannot be renewed without confronting the abuse suffered by innocent children in the past.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the entire church is this year examining itself and is "called to do penance" following the revelations about sexual and physical abuse.
Speaking at a lenten ceremony to bring new people into the church, Dr Martin said God alone could "reheal" the church.
"The entire church in Dublin is called again this year to renew itself through an examination of our lives and our experience," he told the event in Dublin's pro cathedral.
"Then this year is a moment in which the whole church in Dublin is called to do penance and seek reconciliation concerning terrible facts about the abuse of children and how they were responded to. We have to reject any temptation to think that renewal in the church can be achieved without recognising the hurt of the past, the damage done to innocent children and how that damage was ignored.
"Lent is a time when we must all look at our responsibilities for the society and for the church which allowed such a situation to take shape."
Forty-four people took part in yesterday's 'Rite of Election' ceremony, bringing them a step closer to joining the church. Of these, 41 were seeking recognition to be initiated in to the church through Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. Three others, who were in other Christian denominations previously, presented themselves to receive Communion.
Dr Martin declined to speak further to the media after the event finished.