The Pope will join the event on Saturday

The event that brings the Pope to Ireland officially opens today.

The World Meeting of Families promises believers a chance to reflect on the importance of the family in the church, but the celebrations have been marred for many by clerical sex abuse revelations.

Bells will ring out this evening in Catholic cathedrals across Ireland's 26 dioceses to mark the start of the event.

The Pontiff will join the event on Saturday, and will celebrate its closing mass in the Phoenix Park in Dublin on Sunday.

Held every three years, this major international event brings together families from across the world to celebrate the importance of marriage and the family as the cornerstone of society and the Church.

However preparations have been overshadowed by revelations about the church's handling of child sex abuse cases.

Yesterday the Vatican issued a statement promising no effort will be spared to prevent abuse and its cover up within the church.

But victims groups have labelled the response as 'disappointing' and say it makes no attempt to introduce mandatory reporting of crimes.

The last time the Pope came to Ireland was 1979 - his visit this time brings him to a much changed cultural landscape - it's still unclear if he will use his trip to personally apologise to abuse victims here.