Priest 'ashamed to wear collar'
A leading Catholic priest has said he is devastated that clerical sex abuse may have led people to suicide.
Father Aidan Troy admitted that after four decades in the priesthood he is ashamed to wear his collar because of the litany of scandals.
The cleric told the Console suicide prevention conference in Dublin: "Who knows how many good people lost their light in their life because of the clergy."
Fr Troy said while the church has played an enormously positive role in Ireland's history through healthcare, pastoral care and education, a huge problem has been revealed.
"Underneath that undeniable goodness, there is decay, sin, criminality and an inability to deal with ordinary decent human living," he continued.
"Over 40 years as a priest, it was a privilege to wear my collar. Now I find it difficult to go out with my collar on every morning."
Fr Troy shot to worldwide prominence 10 years ago as he shielded Catholic schoolgirls from loyalist protesters in Belfast.
He has also been heavily critical of the church's handling of clerical abuse, but revealed his inspiration does not come from the internal world of church politics.
"I don't care whether it's the government or the Vatican who are right in their diplomacy," he added. "My inspiration comes from the value of human life, the prospect of human life."