The decision was taken after a long period of deliberation on all the evidence
The Vatican has rejected an appeal by former Cloyne priest Dan Duane against his laicisation.
Mr Duane was dismissed from the clerical state following a Canon Law trial over his abuse of teenagers and minors.
Mr Duane, from Mallow, Co. Cork, appealed the decision of the canonical court in Ireland to dismiss him from clerical ministry to the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s Supreme Court and eventually Pope Francis.
The appeal has now been rejected by the Church’s highest court and this has been confirmed by the Pope. No further appeal is possible.
The decision was taken after a long period of deliberation on all the evidence provided.
Reacting to the definitive judgement, Bishop William Crean of Cloyne said: “We are most grateful to the survivors of abuse who had the courage to come forward to tell their stories. This long and painful process for all involved has now reached completion. We regret that the process took so long.
“On behalf of the priests and people of the diocese may I once again extend my deepest sympathy and sorrow that they had to suffer so much from a person in whom they had placed their trust. I apologise to them once again and to all who have suffered abuse of any kind at the hands of clergy,” Dr Crean said.
The bishop said he wanted to “assure the people of Cloyne that the most comprehensive child protection measures are in place in the diocese to ensure that these evil acts never again occur”.
“We can never be complacent and the work continues on a daily basis, by hundreds of people, to ensure that our children and young people are safe from harm,” the bishop said.
The Vatican's decision has already been communicated privately to the survivors of abuse in this case.
Since his appointment to Cloyne in late 2011, Dr Crean has pledged that healing for the survivors of abuse will be a key part of his ministry.
Cloyne had been without a bishop since Bishop John Magee, a former secretary to three Popes, resigned in 2010. A year earlier, following sharp criticism of his handling of clerical sex abuse, Bishop Magee requested an apostolic administrator for the diocese. A government inquiry begun in 2009 later reported that Bishop Magee covered up allegations of abuse against priests in his diocese.
In May 2014, the Church’s independent child protection watchdog the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) in Ireland revealed that, after past failings, Cloyne was following robust procedures. The diocese was commended for work to reach out to survivors of abuse.