Irish screen star Gabriel Byrne has branded Pope Francis a ‘figurehead’ who does ‘the bidding of the masters behind him.'

Known for his public criticism of the Catholic Church in the past, Byrne says little will change in the church under the new pontiff.

The comments were made in an hour long interview for the "Michael Des Barres Show" and have been reported on a number of websites including Yahoo.

Byrne uses the interview to sound off about the recently inaugurated Pope.

The “In Treatment” star said: “Like Barack Obama, a bit like Tony Blair, he’s a figurehead, a CEO, a man who does the bidding of the masters who hide behind him.

“Pope Francis may have set a different tone by doing Christ-like things such as bathing the feet of prisoners and embracing a severely deformed man but not much within the Catholic Church will change.

“Can one man change an institution? I feel the answer is no. He can initiate certain reforms in the Vatican but unless he radically alters the policies of the Catholic Church there won’t be a change.”

Byrne made headlines in 2010 when he revealed he been molested when he served as an altar boy at a Christian Brothers school. He was also abused later in life during his time as a seminary student.

Byrne told a TV show in Ireland that he didn’t feel the impact of the sexual abuse immediately.

He said: “But I suppose when I think about my later life and how I had difficulties with certain issues, there is the real possibility they could have been attributable to that.”