Taoiseach Enda Kenny has strongly criticised the Vatican for what he said was an attempt to frustrate the Cloyne inquiry, accusing it of downplaying the rape of children to protect its power and reputation.
Mr Kenny was speaking during Dáil statements on the report.
Never before has a Taoiseach used such language in criticising the Catholic Church.
Mr Kenny told the Dáil that the Cloyne Report highlighted the 'dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.'
The rape and torture of children had been downplayed or 'managed' to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, which are its power, standing and 'reputation'.
The hierarchy had proved either unwilling or unable to address what he called the horrors uncovered in successive reports, a failure which he said must be devastating for so many good priests.
Mr Kenny said that the Catholic Church needed to be truly and deeply penitent for the wrongdoing it perpetrated, hid and denied.
'Instead of listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal,' Mr Kenny pointed out that the Vatican's reaction had been to parse and analyse it, with the eye of a canon lawyer.
'This position is the polar opposite of the radicalism, the humility and the compassion that the Church had been founded on.'
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said what was done was not just to avoid scandal - it involved the wilful refusal to respect basic moral and legal responsibilities.
Mr Martin said no-one had any excuse for not knowing what to do when there was even a suspicion of child abuse.
Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the report shows it had learned nothing since the Fr Brendan Smith scandal.
The all-party motion on the Cloyne report condemning the Vatican's role in child protection was discussed in the Dáil this afternoon.
The motion 'deplores the Vatican's intervention which contributed to the undermining of child protection frameworks and guidelines of the Irish state and the Irish bishops.'
One of the main findings of the report was that the diocese failed to report nine out of 15 complaints made against priests, which 'very clearly should have been reported'.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, speaking in a personal capacity, has said that there was nothing in the advice given by the papal nuncio in 1997 to encourage bishops to break Irish laws.
He said that the Vatican's advice to Irish bishops on child protection policies could not be interpreted as an invitation to cover up abuse cases.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the comments were disingenuous and he said he expected a more considered, formal response from the Vatican.