The Roman Catholic Church in Uruguay is apologizing for sexual abuses committed by priests 20 years ago that went unpunished because the statute of limitations expired.

Uruguay's Episcopal Conference said in a letter on its website Thursday that it feels "pain and shame" about the "abhorring acts."

The letter comes after news reports on abuses by priests in the South American country.

The Episcopal Conference says the church received reports last year of three cases of people abused by priests while in their teens.

Assistant Bishop Milton Troccoli says the allegations led one man to leave the priesthood and another was removed after an investigation. He says it was too late for criminal charges in those cases, and the victim in the third case did not want it pursued.