The Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Elphin is asking for forgiveness on behalf of the Church for the way in which so many women and children were treated in mother and baby homes.
It follows the publication of the report of the Commission of Investigation into the homes.
The report found 9,000 children died in mother and baby homes between 1922 and 1998.
15 per cent of the approximately 57,000 children who were in the 18 institutions investigated by the commission died during their time there.
In his response to the report, Bishop Kevin Doran said while there were no mother and baby homes in the Diocese of Elphin, he had no doubt that women from the diocese were resident in mother and baby homes elsewhere.
For that reason, he said he wanted to join with other bishops and religious leaders in asking forgiveness on behalf of the Church for the way in which so many women in need and their children were hidden away and treated as if they did not count.
Bishop Doran said there has always been a tendency to stigmatise children whose parents, for one reason or another, were perceived to fall short of the expectations of society.
While Commission of Investigation report points to a serious failure on the part of the civil authorities to adequately equip, maintain and oversee the running of the homes, Bishop Doran said it is a source of deep sadness and shame that church people contributed to creating and maintaining such a culture.
He said no child should ever be treated less favourably because of the social, employment or marital status of his or her parents.
Bishop Doran said no report can change the past, but a good report, taken seriously, can and will change the future.
He added that publication of the report brings with it a public recognition of the pain and isolation that so many women and children experienced.
He also said he hoped that, as well as providing some answers to the families of babies who died in the homes, it will be the beginning of a path to truth, peace and healing.