(Celtic cross at Ballinskelligs Priory, 18 March 2008/Ulrich Hartmann)

A Vatican report on the sexual abuse of Irish children by Catholic clergy accused Ireland’s religious leaders of negligence and called for more reforms there to avoid a similarly “shameful” scandal in the future.

Irish bishops assured Vatican investigators that they would promptly notify civil authorities of new sexual abuse cases and would make changes to Catholic education and seminary life.

“With a great sense of pain and shame, it must be acknowledged that within the Christian community innocent young people were abused by clerics and religious (nuns) to whose care they had been entrusted,” the report, released on Tuesday, said. “Those who should have exercised diligence often failed to do so effectively.”

The Vatican investigation is the latest attempt by the Irish Church to tackle a crisis that has badly tainted its reputation.

Years of crisis over sexual abuse have included several damning government reports, the resignations of three Irish bishops, a papal letter to Irish Catholics and a diplomatic falling out between Ireland and the Vatican. That led to Dublin closing its embassy in the Holy See.