Head of Irish Catholic Church Cardinal Sean Brady was on Wednesday under growing pressure to resign after he was forced to apologise for his role in the child abuse scandal that has hit the church.

His apology came after victims' groups said he had “unclean hands” following revelations that as a priest in 1975 he tried to hush up cases of sexual abuse involving another priest, Brendan Smyth, who then went on to commit more offences and was finally convicted many years later.

Cardinal Brady acknowledged that he was present at a meeting where two victims — aged 10 and 14 — were asked to sign oaths of secrecy while the offending priest was sent to another parish.

The Church has failed to explain why the police were not informed.

As pressure mounted, Cardinal Brady said he was “ashamed” and wished to apologise to those who felt “let down”.

“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 apologise to you with all my heart. I also apologise 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,” he told a St. Patrick's Day mass. Reacting to calls for his resignation, he said he would be “reflecting carefully as we enter into Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost”.

The Pope, meanwhile, said he was “deeply concerned” that the Irish church had been “severely shaken” by the crisis. The Catholic Church across Europe has been hit by revelations of widespread child abuse.

Vienna Boys' Choir

AP reports from Vienna:

The Vienna Boys' Choir says it has heard from eight possible abuse victims following an initial report of allegations last week.

The famed institution says the men range in age from about 40 to over 70. They contacted the choir through a hotline set up after a local newspaper reported that two former members, both now adults, said they were sexually abused.

Tina Breckwoldt, who is responsible for the hotline, declined to disclose whether or to what extent the abuse allegations are sexual, physical or psychological and whether they target adults or other choir members.

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