An independent commission is urging the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland to offer an unequivocal apology to victims of sex abuse.

The inquiry was set up in 2013 following a series of scandals. Disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien stepped down in February 2013 after three priests and a former priest made allegations of inappropriate behavior.

The commission described support for survivors Tuesday as an "absolute priority," and recommended that the church's safeguarding policies and practices be completely rewritten and subjected to external scrutiny.

The investigation's chair, Very Rev Andrew McLellan, described the report as "a chance — an unrepeatable chance — to make things better."

"If this opportunity is not taken, the public credibility of the Catholic Church in Scotland will be destroyed," he said.