The Bishop of Clonfert, Dr John Kirby, has apologised for saying he once regarded child abuse as "a friendship that crossed a boundary line."
Bishop Kirby is an Athlone native who heads a diocese that includes areas such as Ballinasloe and Taughmaconnell.
He issued a special message which was circulated at Masses in all 24 parishes of the diocese over the weekend.
In the message, Bishop Kirby said he "made serious mistakes in the early to mid-1990s by moving two priests who had abused into different parishes".
He added: "As bishop, I take full responsibility for my actions. Whilst I am not aware of any abuse allegations from the parishes to which they were moved, it is important for you to know that I operate very differently now and will continue to do so in the future."
The next section of his statement dealt with the controversy which arose from comments made after the publication on September 5 of a diocesan child safeguarding audit.
In an interview with Galway Bay FM, the Bishop said he didn't have a proper understanding of paedophilia in the past, comparing it to "a friendship that crossed a boundary line."
In his statement last weekend, he said: "In one media interview on 5 September last, I may have given the general impression that I was somehow minimising the gravity of the criminal activity which we know to be child sexual abuse. This was never my intention and I wish to apologise, especially to all survivors, on this point.
"The fact is that I reported the allegations to the civil authorities in the 1990s within days of becoming aware of the issue because I knew that crimes may have been committed.
"What I failed to appreciate sufficiently at that time was the addictive and repetitive compulsion of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, my words last week, separated from their context, came across negatively.
"I am very sorry for any anxiety or embarrassment that I may have caused to people in Clonfert or throughout the country."