Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton has defended Government criticism of the Vatican following the publication of the Cloyne Report on clerical child sex abuse.

Mr Bruton said the Government still strongly believes that some Church documents gave comfort to those who were obstructing the pursuit of justice for victims of clerical child sex abuse.

His comments come a day after the Vatican published a statement within which it rejected criticism of the Holy See made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil last July.

Following the publication of the Cloyne Report, Mr Kenny told the Dáil that the Vatican had tried to undermine investigations into clerical child sex abuse allegations "as little as three years ago, not three decades ago."

Mr Kenny also accused the Vatican of downplaying the rape and torture of children to protect its power and reputation.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Mr Bruton said the Government would study the Vatican's statement before giving its response.

But he said it was clear there had been huge failings by the Church in terms of cases which were not reported to the civil authorities and where there were cover ups.

He also said some cases showed a culture where the priority was not the protection of children but the protection of the institution of the Church.

Meanwhile the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has reiterated that the Taoiseach needs to explain what he was referring to when he spoke in the Dáil in July.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, Dr Martin said he would like to know exactly what Mr Kenny had meant by, what he called, a very specific allegation.

He said it was important to know so that we could move forward without having suspicions that there was some other unknown agenda.

The Taoiseach has said he plans to read the Vatican's response in detail.