Taoiseach Enda Kenny has met with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.
The Fine Gael leader’s meeting with the Pontiff is his first since he castigated the Vatican for its inaction in dealing with the issue of child abuse in Ireland.
He is in Rome as part of a two-day meeting of the Centrist Democrats International group hosted by the Italian leader, Mario Monti.
The group is affiliated with the European People’s Party, of which Fine Gael is a member.
Mr Kenny was among a group of European political leaders who met Pope Benedict at his residence at Castel Gandolfo.
Last July in the Dáil the Taoiseach launched an unprecedented attack on the Vatican, accusing Catholic hierarchy of putting the Church ahead of child rape victims.
In a damning assessment of Rome’s attitude to paedophile priests, Mr Kenny said investigations into the cover-up of clerical abuse had exposed a dysfunctional, elite hierarchy determined to frustrate investigations.
He also warned the Holy See that religion did not rule Ireland.