Taoiseach Enda Kenny has launched an unprecedented attack on the Vatican, accusing Catholic hierarchy of putting the Church ahead of child rape victims.
In a damning assessment of Rome's attitude to paedophile priests, Mr Kenny claimed the latest inquiry into clerical abuse cover-ups has exposed a dysfunctional, elite hierarchy determined to frustrate investigations.
The Holy See was also warned that religion does not rule Ireland.
"For the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago," he said.
"And in doing so, the Cloyne report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.
"The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and 'reputation'."
The Taoiseach's attack, which opened a special Dail parliament debate, followed the publication last week of the fourth major report in six years into the Church's cover-ups of clerical abuse.
Cloyne Diocese in Co Cork is the latest part of the Church to be exposed with former bishop John Magee - a Vatican aide to three Popes - singled out for misleading investigators and "dangerous" failures on child protection. His resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict last year.
The Taoiseach went on to describe the Vatican of having a "calculated withering position" on clerical abuse, which he said was "the polar opposite of the radicalism, the humility and the compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded".
Mr Kenny said the Vatican's reaction to evidence from victims of abuse was to have it parsed and analysed by a canon lawyer.