Fr. Sean McDonagh, an expert on ecology and the environment, said on Tuesday that Ireland’s four Catholic archbishops, attending a meeting with Vatican officials this week, should hold the Vatican responsible for the clerical abuse.

Speaking to the Irish Independent newspaper this week McDonagh, a co-founder of the Association of Irish Priests, said the Irish delegation who are in Rome this week should join forces with a nine-member international team of investigators to seek the truth from the Vatican.

Said McDonagh, "I believe the Irish archbishops and the team of visitors should begin by scrutinizing Rome's own handling of sex abuse allegations.”

McDonagh spoke to the Independent about his views on the Vatican covering up the scandal involving Fr. Marcel Maciel, a Mexican priest who molested several children.

McDonagh described it as "one of the greatest failures in terms of accountability any where in the church".

The Irish delegation is led by Cardinal Sean Brady and the investigators by the senior English churchman, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.

Brady was also accompanied by Archbishops Diarmuid Martin, Dermot Clifford and Michael Neary.

In March Pope Benedict said he was to seek an investigation into the Irish abuses cases and this week a timetable is expected to be drawn up.

Also in Rome this week are the hand-chosen church men from the U.S. and Canada who have been given the assignment by the Vatican to delve deeper into the findings from the Ryan and Murphy reports and present them to Pope Benedict.

As well as their investigations into the reports, the selected group are to examine the current child protection schemes and to see if they can come up with better solutions.