The head of the NSPCC in Belfast is to take charge of the Catholic Church's Irish child protection board.
Ian Elliott has led a major reform programme for Northern Ireland's child protection services.
The National Board for Child Protection is to monitor the implementation of the church's child protection measures.
Last October, Pope Benedict XVI told Irish bishops they must deal effectively with problems caused by priests who sexually abuse children.
"I see my role as helping the church to move beyond apology," Mr Elliott said.
"Mistakes are tragic when not learned from, and it's imperative that - in future - we don't put the rights of anyone above the rights of the child."
He said that he would embark on face-to-face meetings with churchmen and women and involved laity, to support them in addressing the issue of child protection.
Bishop Colm O'Reilly, who chairs the One-Church Committee, welcomed the appointment,
He said that "the church is extremely pleased to have secured a person of Ian's proven integrity, expertise and stature to head up this most important role at this moment in the church's history, north and south".
The whole issue of clerical abuse has been a long-running trauma in Ireland.
Most recently, the church said nearly 150 priests and members of other religious orders have been accused or suspected of abuse since 1940 in the Dublin archdiocese.
The most notorious abuse has occurred in children's homes and orphanages run by priests and nuns.
Fifteen-thousand people have applied for compensation for abuse suffered in them.
Irish taxpayers are eventually expected to pay compensation approaching $1bn (£0.5bn; 0.76bn euros).