Cardinal Sean Brady has admitted that he is "ashamed" of the way he handled the investigation of allegations of sexual abuse by Fr. Brendan Smyth. Brady has also apologized again for his lack of action against clerical child abuse.

Brady has pleaded with the public to allow himself a two month period of "reflection."

Pope Benedict will be sending a letter to the Irish Catholic Church tomorrow. The letter will be read out in every parish in Ireland.

The Lenten Letter is the first papal document that addresses the issue of pedophilia in the Catholic Church.

The pope said he hoped that the letter would "help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal".

Speaking yesterday at Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, Brady said: "This week a painful episode from my own past has come before me. I have listened to reaction from people to my role in events 35 years ago. I want to say to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on my part that I apologize to you with all my heart.

“I also apologize to all those who feel I have let them down. Looking back I am ashamed that I have not always upheld the values that I profess and believe in.” Brady said.

Brady went on to say that he and his colleagues should be taking responsibility for their actions.

“We as bishops, successors of the Apostles in the Irish church today, must acknowledge our failings. The integrity of our witness to the Gospel challenges us to own up to and take responsibility for any mismanagement or cover-up of child abuse. For the sake of survivors, for the sake of all the Catholic faithful as well as the religious and priests of this country, we have to stop the drip, drip, drip of revelations of failure.”

Brady believes that the 2012 Eucharistic Congress in Dublin is God "calling us to a new beginning."

"None of us knows where that new beginning will lead. Does it allow for wounded healers, those who have made mistakes in their past to have a part in shaping the future?” said Brady.

Victims of clerical child abuse have again urged the Cardinal to resign from his position.

Marie Collins asked the Cardinal to "do the honorable thing and step down".

Dublin abuse victim Andrew Madden said “if the Catholic Church in Ireland is to be led by a man who accurately reflects it in its current state, then perhaps it is only right and fitting that it be led by a man who has participated in the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by a priest.”

Deputy First Minster of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness has also called for Brady to resign.