Pope Benedict’s envoy, a Senior Vatican Cardinal, Marc Ouellet, has apologized to child victims of sexual abuse while visiting Ireland as part of the International Eucharistic Congress.

The Cardinal spent two hours speaking to victims on the remote island of Lough Derg, according to Reuters. It is said his actions were aimed at highlighting “the Vatican's concerns over its deteriorating status in Ireland”.

He said, “In the name of the Church, I apologize once again to the victims, some of which I have met here in Lough Derg.”

“We have learned over the last decades how much harm and despair such abuse caused to thousands of victims. We learned too that the response of some Church authorities to these crimes was often inadequate and inefficient in stopping the crimes.”

Over the past decade, the Catholic Church in Ireland has been rocked by a series of horrendous sexual abuse reports uncovering the extensive clerical abuse in Church institutions.

Last year Ireland announced that it would be closing the embassy to the Vatican as relations have hit an all time low over the Church’s handling of the abuse.

Last month Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate of All-Ireland, apologized for how the Church dealt with the sexual abuse scandal. However, he declined to resign from his position after a BBC documentary reported his failings.

Survivor groups in Europe and across the United States, including One in 4 and SNAP, have provided support for sexual abuse victims and this has meant that new disclosures have been encouraged.

Cardinal Ouellet’s visit coincides with the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, a gathering which takes place every four years. This is the first time since 1932 that Ireland has played host to this religious congregation.

Cardinal Marc OuelletGoogle Images