Australia's Roman Catholic Church has admitted to over 600 cases of sexual abuse dating back as early as the 1930s.
The Catholic Church revealed that they had record of at least 620 children being abused in a submitted report at a parliamentary hearing in Victoria on Friday, Agence France Presse reported.
"It is shameful and shocking that this abuse, with its dramatic impact on those who were abused and their families, was committed by Catholic priests, religious and church workers," Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said in a statement.
More from GlobalPost: Horace Mann, elite NY private school, had long history of sexual abuse
The inquiry into the church's activity was sparked after 40 suicides occurred in the state of Victoria, the Telegraph reported.
Judy Courtin, who is researching abuse in the Catholic Church, told the Telegraph that it often takes victims decades to confess to having been abused, and that she is not surprised it took a government investigation to force the Church to release its statistics.
The Church said it was shamed by its slow reaction to the abuse allegations.
“We were very slow to take victims seriously, to listen to what they said and what had happened to them, to believe their accounts,” said the church’s spokesman, Father Shane Mackinlay, according to the Telegraph. “Our submission [faces] the truth of those sort of numbers and the horrific extent and the horrific consequences for each of the victims represented by the numbers.
"Where there was absolutely dramatic and appalling rates of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s, that's dropped off extraordinarily," he added.
More from GlobalPost: Ireland: Pope calls sexual abuse in the Catholic Church "a mystery"
However, support groups for victims of the abuse say that the Church has underreported the number of abuses, and have demanded independent investigations into the Roman Catholic Church, Press TV reported.
"The church has never lifted a finger to stop their pedophile priests," said Chrissie Foster, whose daughters had been raped by their priest; one later committed suicide, AFP reported.