Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said many priests and people felt hurt by a cartoon in yesterday's Irish Times newspaper, relating to the publication of the new child protection legislation.
The cartoon, captioned 'More Singing Priests' depicted priests singing while reading the new Children First Bill, with the words "I'd do anything for children (But I won't do that)".
The proposed legislation makes it mandatory for people in certain positions to report incidents of harm and the risk of harm to the Child and Family Agency.
In his homily at Holy Thursday Chrism Mass at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, Archbishop Martin said he was a strong believer in freedom of speech but objected to anything that would unjustly tarnish all good priests with the unpardonable actions of some.
Diarmuid Martin said there were great priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
He said: "I know that many priests and people feel hurt by a cartoon in yesterday's Irish Times. I am a strong believer in freedom of speech and of the vital role of satire in social criticism, but I object to anything that would unjustly tarnish all good priests with the unpardonable actions of some. We have great priests in this Archdiocese, we must stand by them."
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has apologised to the Cathoic Bishop of Dromore Dr John McAreavey for misrepresenting his views on abortion.
West Belfast Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said letters sent out to his constituents had seriously misquoted Dr McAreavey in regard to a fundamental area of church moral teaching.
Mr Maskey said he apologised unreservedly for the literature which was issued in the names of party Stormont Assembly member Sue Ramsey and councillor Matt Garrett.
Dr McAreavey said he accepted the apology but strongly criticised the content of the letters.
He said how any political party could have been mistaken about the pro-life position of the church defied belief.