More than 3,600 children were sexually assaulted by Catholic priests in Germany over nearly seven decades, local media reported on Wednesday, citing a study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference.
The damning report, which Cardinal Reinhard Marx is to present officially on September 25, deals another blow to the Church after clerical child abuse has been uncovered worldwide.
According to the study, 1,670 clergymen in Germany committed some form of sexual attack against 3,677 minors between 1946 and 2014, Spiegel Online reported. Most of the victims were boys.
More than half were 13 years old or younger at the time of the abuse, the study concluded after examining 38,000 documents from 27 German dioceses.
The study also noted that some records had been "destroyed or manipulated", warning therefore that the scale of the abuse may be even greater.
Predator priests were often transferred to another location, with information on their criminal history not provided to the new site.