Pope Benedict XVI wants to hear what the Catholic people of Ireland think, according to the inspector sent by the Pontiff to the Archdiocese of Armagh in the wake of the clerical child abuse crisis.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor made his comment to RTÉ News in advance of a public meeting in Drogheda, Co Louth, with local Catholics.

The meeting, which lasted just over an hour, was attended by approximately 100 people.

It was convened by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who is the former leader of the church in England and Wales. A spokesman said he had already met with some victims of abuse in the archdiocese.

Tonight's gathering was the first public consultation by any of the Papal visitors appointed last May to investigate the clerical child abuse scandals in the country's four largest dioceses, in orders, and congregations here and in Irish seminaries.

Beforehand, one participant said the church leadership was unlikely to recover the trust of the people while another expressed confidence that an upswelling of prayer would help to heal victims.

Another expressed confidence in the church's current child protection procedures.

A dozen people spoke from the floor, most of them women. Similar meetings are scheduled for north Louth, Armagh city and Cookstown, Co Tyrone, over the next three evenings.