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A man walks past the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park in Dublin

Leading Irish Catholic priest: Child sex-abuse scandal 'goes right to the top in Rome'

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A man walks past the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park in Dublin

One of Ireland's best-loved priests, Father Brian D'Arcy, has called for the resignation of clergy who knowingly covered up for child sex-abuse priests.

Five bishops who once served in the Dublin Archdiocese when the abuse was taking place and took no action have faced resignation calls over the Murphy Report, which found child sex-abuse rampant.

D'Arcy, a well-known media figure and commentator, said the findings of the Murphy Report were "absolutely sickening." And he said that when he served on the Council of Priests in Dublin during the 1990s, he never even "heard a hint" of accusations of abuse

"This is not just in the Diocese, this goes right to the top in Rome," he said.

"I must have read about a dozen reports from all over the world, from Boston right through to the Ryan Report, the Ferns report, the Dublin report and reports from Australia, and they seem just the same," he told the the "Eamonn Keane Show" on Newstalk Radio

"Yesterday, I just felt physically sick. This morning I have to get up and I try to read it again and I still felt physically sick and I still am physically sick having read the kind of abuse that was perpetrated on innocent children by people who, in a sense were colleagues of mine, because I did spend quite a number of years working within the Dublin Archdiocese in Mount Argus."

Opposition leader Enda Kenny head of Fine Gael has already called on the Bishops to step down.

"In my view, from the point of view of personal leadership, of Church integrity, to have any semblance of moral authority to lead, people who were in positions and are still in positions should not continue in those positions," said Kenny.

However, Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick, who was named in the Murphy Report as being involved in the cover-up, has resisted calls to resign.

"I certainly was never involved in a cover-up. I was not involved in covering up," he said. "I don't think I was aware of the scale of it. I am horrified at the scale of it (the report)."

Meanwhile, the Church continues to reel from the Murphy Report last week, which found child sex-abuse rampant in Dublin Archdiocese.

Eighty new cases of alleged abuse by priests in Irish dioceses will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, it has been learned.

The files have been sent by a new police team which is specializing in investigating clerical sex-abuse cases.

The cases are said to be drawn from all over the country and to involve clergy at all levels.

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza has given an assurance that Pope Benedict is committed to rooting out the Irish pedophile priest problem.

He said Benedict had "told all the Irish bishops during their meeting with him" in Rome of his abhorrence of child sexual abuse.

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