The Pope has begged for God's forgiveness for the "open wound" of church abuse in Ireland as he called for "firm and decisive" action to secure "truth and justice".
Speaking at the Knock Holy shrine in Co Mayo this morning, Pope Francis addressed around 45,000 people the day after he held a meeting with survivors of clerical sex abuse and expressed "pain and shame" over failures to tackle the scandals.
Pope Francis was speaking as he began his second day of engagements in the first Papal visit to the Republic in nearly 40 years.
During his address, Francis said no-one could be failed to be moved by stories of young abuse victims who were "robbed of their innocence" and "left scarred by painful memories".
The pontiff said: "This open wound challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice.
"I beg the Lord's forgiveness for these sins and for the scandal and betrayal felt by so many others in God's family.
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"I ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for the healing of the survivors and to confirm every member of our Christian family in the resolve never again to permit these situations to occur."
Popr Francis also urged Christians everywhere to support the peace process in the north in remarks that drew loud applause from the crowd.
45,000+ people at Knock, say organisers. @Pontifex’s references to abuse drew applause from the crowd but Northern Ireland section got loudest applause.— William Scholes (@ScholesWilliam) August 26, 2018
The Pope offered a "warm greeting" to the people of the north and said while his itinerary did not include a trip over the border, he offered an assurance to people in the region of his "affection". "I ask Our Lady to sustain all the members of the Irish family to persevere, as brothers and sisters, in the work of reconciliation," he added.
I ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for the healing of the survivors of abuse and to confirm every member of our Christian family in the resolve never again to permit these situations to occur.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) August 26, 2018