HIA inquiry: Catholic Church admits 'catastrophically' failing child abuse victims
The Catholic Church has admitted that some children in its care were "tragically and catastrophically" failed.
Fr Tim Bartlett, representing the Diocese of Down and Connor, was giving evidence to Northern Ireland's Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry.
It is currently examining claims of abuse at a County Down boys' home.
"The diocese would not wish to offer any excuse at this stage. Only apologise," Fr Bartlett said.
'Very evil people'
He told the hearing at Banbridge courthouse that the concept of caring for vulnerable children was "noble".
However, he accepted that some children were abused because of the actions of some Catholic Church figures and the inactions of others.
Fr Bartlett told the inquiry that "good people made very fundamental mistakes and some very evil people capitalised on that and manipulatively, manipulatively, used that situation for the most grotesque ends."
The Down and Connor priest was greeted warmly by some survivors of abuse at the end of his testimony.
Fr Bartlett works as an episcopal vicar for education in Diocese of Down and Connor and is also a member of the Catholic Council for Social Affairs.
The HIA inquiry was set up in 2013 to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period, up to 1995.
A total of 13 Northern Ireland institutions are being investigated.
It is currently examining abuse claims at Rubane House boys' home, which was in the Diocese of Down and Connor.
The home was operated by the De La Salle religious order.