Cardinal Desmond Connell has expressed deep regret for mistakes he made in seeking to come to grips with child sexual abuse by priests in the Dublin archdiocese.

In a pastoral letter being made available at masses this weekend the Cardinal is asking for forgiveness for failing in significant ways to deal appropriately with the scandals.

Cardinal Connell said the Church's failure to deal more compassionately with victims was due to a lack of understanding rather than neglect.