A shamed former bishop at the centre of a major clerical abuse scandal has begged for forgiveness "on bended knee" for failing to protect children and investigate paedophile priests.
Under immense pressure to speak out over his lack of interest in exposing abuse, one-time Vatican aide John Magee said he was ashamed people had suffered under his watch.
"I fully understand why they are angry - I let them down by not fully implementing the guidelines which were available to me," said Newry-born Magee.
"I deeply, deeply regret not ensuring that the guidelines, which were my responsibility to implement, were not complied with and I ask for forgiveness for the way in which I have carried out this critically important aspect of my work."
Dr Magee was singled out for deliberately misleading authorities in the Cloyne Report, an inquiry into children's claims that priests were abusing them.
Bishop Magee, who lives in Mitchelstown in the Cork diocese, offered to meet victims privately. But he also warned that nothing he can say will ease their pain and distress.
Reiterating a statement he issued in the wake of the Cloyne report earlier this summer, he said he took full responsibility for the diocesan failures to manage effectively allegations of child sexual abuse.
He repeated his apology to victims first made in Cobh Cathedral on Christmas Eve in 2008.
Dr Magee, a former papal secretary, insisted that he had not been aware of the full extent of the failure to protect children and expose paedophile priests until the report was published.
The Catholic Church's own watchdog in Ireland, the National Board for Safeguarding Children, warned in 2008 that child protection policies in Cloyne were "inadequate and in some respects dangerous".
That scathing review prompted Judge Yvonne Murphy to follow up the devastating inquiry into the Dublin archdiocese by exposing its horrifying handling of allegations against priests.
The former bishop's resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict in March last year.