A top Vatican official says Pope Benedict XVI will speak with a "clear and decisive voice" when he addresses clerical sex abuses in Ireland in a forthcoming letter.

Benedict is expected to release his letter soon in response to decades of systematic abuse in church-run schools and other institutions in predominantly Roman Catholic Ireland.

The abuse scandal has since spread to other European countries, most significantly Germany, the pope's homeland.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella told an Italian newspaper that the zero-tolerance policy that Benedict wants to implement is a "moral obligation."

Fisichella was quoted as saying Monday that measures introduced in the U.S. church, similarly rocked by an abuse scandal years ago, are making a difference.