Pope Francis has offered an apology to victims sexually exploited by the clergy of the Catholic Church.

Speaking on Sunday in Ireland, the Pope restated the church’s determination to “be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice”.

According to Reuters, Pope Francis spoke to a crowd that featured tens of thousands at the Knock shrine in the west of Ireland, on Sunday morning.

He said: "None of us can fail to be moved by the stories of young people who suffered abuse, were robbed of their innocence and left scarred.

"This open wound challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice. I beg forgiveness for these sins and for the scandal and betrayal felt by so many others in God's family.”

His apology was greeted with applause from the crowd.

Last week, the Pope had written a letter addressed to all Catholics, asking the faithful to help root out "this culture of death", just as he vowed that there would be no more cover ups.

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