Some 216,000 children have been victims of abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in France since 1950, the head of a panel investigating abuses by Church members says.
Jean-Marc Sauvé was speaking at the unveiling of a comprehensive report on sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church.
When abuse by lay members of the Church is factored in, the figure could rise to 330,000, according to him.
According to one victim, the report marked a watershed moment in French history.
The French scandal is the most recent to rock the Roman Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals all over the world, often involving children.
The French Catholic Church commissioned the investigation in 2018.
It spent over two and a half years poring over court, police, and church records, as well as speaking with victims and witnesses.
Mr Sauvé, a senior civil servant, stated that the Catholic Church had “showed a profound and even cruel indifference towards the victims” until the early 2000s.
Out of a total of 115,000 priests and other clerics, the commission discovered evidence of at least 2,900 to 3,200 abusers.
According to the nearly 2,500-page report, the “vast majority” of victims were pre-adolescent boys from a variety of social backgrounds.
“After the circle of family and friends, the Catholic Church is the environment with the highest prevalence of sexual violence,” according to the report.
According to Hugh Schofield of the BBC, the revelations will be difficult to digest and will have people in France reeling.
The majority of the cases considered by the panel are thought to be too old to be prosecuted under French law.