DUBLIN: Two Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland resigned on Christmas Day in the wake of a damning investigation into decades of church cover-up of child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese.

Dublin Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field offered an apology to child-abuse victims as they announced their resignations during Christmas Mass. Priests read the statement to worshippers throughout the archdiocese, home to a quarter of Ireland’s 4 million Catholics.

Earlier this month two other bishops, Donal Murray of Limerick and Jim Moriarty of Kildare, quit following the November 26 publication of a three-year investigation into why so many abusive Dublin priests escaped justice for so long. The government-ordered investigation found that Dublin church leaders spent decades shielding more than 170 paedophile priests from the law. They began providing information to police only in 1995 — but continued to keep secret, until 2004, many files and other records of reported abuse.— AP