Pope Benedict XV has told Catholic bishops from Ireland that they must deal effectively with problems caused by priests who sexually abuse children.
The Pope addressed the bishops in Rome
The Pope said the wounds caused by abuse run deep.
He said that the abuse was all the more tragic when it was committed by members of the clergy.
"It is an urgent task to rebuild confidence and trust where these have been damaged," the Pope said.
"You have had to respond in recent years to many heartrending cases of sexual abuse of minors," he added.
"These are even more tragic when the abuser is a cleric.
"In your continuing efforts to deal effectively with this problem it is important to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it occurring again."
However, he said that such crimes should be seen as exceptions in Ireland.
"The fine work and selfless dedication of the great majority of priests and religious in Ireland should not be obscured by the transgressions of some of their brethren," he said.
"I am certain that the people understand this, and continue to regard their clergy with affection and esteem."
The Pope was meeting with the bishops in Rome and the comments were published by the Vatican.