ROME (Reuters) - The Vatican rejected Saturday accusations from the Irish parliament that it had sought to cover up child sex abuse by its priests and undermine child protection laws.
In its first formal response to the rebuke by the Irish parliament, the Vatican said it was "sorry and ashamed" for the sexual abuse of children by priests but added that the accusations were "unfounded."
"In this regard, the Holy See wishes to make it quite clear that it in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne," the Vatican said in a statement.
"Furthermore, at no stage did the Holy See seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties."
In July, the Irish parliament passed a motion deploring the Holy See for "undermining child protection frameworks" after a letter to Irish bishops appeared to diminish Irish guidelines on reporting sex abuse by referring to them as "study guidelines."
The accusation was contained in a report on child sexual abuse by priests in the diocese of Coyne in county Cork.
"In a spirit of humility, the Holy See, while rejecting unfounded accusations, welcomes all objective and helpful observations and suggestions to combat with determination the appalling crime of sexual abuse of minors," the Vatican said.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)