Almost 7,000 survivors of institutional, clerical, and religious abuse and members of their families have availed of a counselling service funded by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland.

That's according to the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Armagh Bishop Michael Router who is Director of the counselling and support service 'Towards Healing'.

In a Homily at Knock today, Bishop Router said that in the past twenty-five years, almost 7,000 people have availed of the service.

"For too long they suffered in isolation, without being heard, acknowledged, or helped," he said.

He added that the service "provides support that endeavours to empower survivors to reclaim and rebuild their lives".

He said the Church had sometimes lost touch with what it is about and had ignored the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

"When that happens, we can neglect to display the compassion that should be the kernel of how we operate."

He said a Church without compassion only hurts and alienates people and robs them of confidence and hope.

Bishop Router was speaking at the Armagh Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock.