Cardinal Sean Brady's Christmas message to Catholics at home and abroad came after Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that the Church hierarchy carried the responsibility of restoring trust in the institution.
"The institution of the Church in Ireland has taken a huge battering in terms of its reputation and it'll have to be rehabilitated by those in authority in that area to do so," said Mr Cowen, speaking on radio.
Mr Cowen also said a special garda unit was examining the Murphy report and warned that churchmen would not be immune from criminal charges.
"Our job is to ensure that everyone is amenable to the law, and any issues that arise out of that report will be dealt with appropriately by the gardai if necessary."
Cardinal Brady said that in Ireland this Christmas "many are experiencing the fullness of difficulties with the economic recession, the unprecedented flooding and the horrendous scandal of child abuse.
"And yet, it is precisely into this agonising, here and now of our world, our country and our Church, that Jesus comes with his blessing," he added.
"He comes to tell us the outstanding good news of God's healing love and mercy, for He is God's word of ever-faithful love, coming to bring us fresh joy and hope."
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