A Galway-based Catholic Bishop who moved two priests who abused children to different parishes in the 1990s has apologised for appearing to minimise the gravity of their crimes.

In a weekend message to the diocese of Clonfert, Bishop John Kirby said that it was never his intention to do so in a recent media interview.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One on 5 September, Bishop Kirby said his understanding of paedophilia in the mid-1990s was that it was "a friendship that had gone astray or wrong".

In a message published today, the Bishop says that unfortunately the words he used on air, when separated from their context, came across negatively.

He said he apologises for any anxiety or embarrassment that he may have caused to survivors of abuse and to others in his diocese and throughout the country.

The interview was in response to a revelation by a church-appointed watchdog that he had moved the abusers between parishes.

Today's statement does not refer to repeated calls for his resignation, but emphasises that he reported the allegations against both priests to the civil authorities within days of becoming aware of them.

He says he did so because he knew they may have committed crimes.

The bishop admitted that moving the two clerics was a serious mistake and said he takes full responsibility for his actions.

Bishop Kirby said that while he is not aware of any abuse allegations from the parishes to which the men were moved, he operates very differently now and will continue to do so.

He said he cannot apologise enough to survivors of abuse for the pain they suffer and utterly condemns both priests' actions. He added that they were taken out of ministry.