Roman Catholic leaders in Britain apologized on Thursday for child abuse by clergy, saying the scandal has brought shame on the church.

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, the head of the church in England and Wales, said the crimes of some priests were a “profound scandal.”

“They bring deep shame to the whole church,” he said. “But shame is not enough. The abuse of children is a grievous sin against God.”

Archbishop Nicholas expressed the church’s “heartfelt apology and deep sorrow to those who have suffered abuse, those who have felt ignored, disbelieved or betrayed.”

“We ask their pardon, and the pardon of God for these terrible deeds done in our midst. There can be no excuses,” he said.

Archbishop Nichols made the apology in a statement issued on behalf of bishops, to be sent to parishes across the country.

The Vatican has been rocked by a worldwide clerical sex abuse scandal in which the church hierarchy is accused of covering up for paedophile priests for decades.

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