A LONG-AWAITED Vatican report on the child abuse scandals in Ireland is published today.
The investigation was ordered by Pope Benedict XVI in the wake of revelations in the Ryan and Murphy reports of decades of abuse and cover-ups involving the clergy.
The Pope promised the document two years ago in his letter to Catholics in Ireland, saying he was "truly sorry" for the outrages.
He also expressed horror and dismay at the contents of the child abuse reports.
Today's brief document was compiled following visits to Ireland by teams of Vatican-appointed Church leaders from abroad.
The Pope assigned six teams to assess the implications of the abuse scandals in each of the country's four archdioceses.
The Church leaders also focused their intention on religious orders and congregations based in Ireland and also further afield.
Victims, as well as Catholics worried about the abuse controversies, were involved in the process.
The Vatican said the purpose of the Apostolic Visitation was to offer assistance and to contribute to the spiritual and moral renewal of the Church in Ireland.
Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, who visited the Dublin archdiocese, has said that, as leaders in the Church, they must accept their responsibility for the failings.
It is understood the document could recommend changes to the way dioceses are structured, with possible amalgamations to come about as a result.
The report, published in Rome, marked another milestone in Ireland's relationship with the Vatican.
Last September, the Holy See rejected criticisms by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore, that it sought to interfere with the reporting of clerical child abuse cases to gardai.
Responding formally to allegations by the Government following the publication of the Cloyne report, the Vatican said it was "sorry and ashamed" for the sexual abuse of children in Ireland by priests.
But it said Mr Kenny's comments in which he claimed the Vatican attempted to "frustrate" a garda inquiry were unfounded.
The Pope was said to be visibly upset by accounts of abuse published in the Ryan report in 2009.
Cardinal Sean Brady reported the Pope as saying that this was a time for deep examination of life in the Irish Church.
Months later, the former Papal Nuncio to Ireland said the findings of the Murphy Commission shocked and dismayed the Vatican.
Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza made the comment following a meeting with the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin.