The Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin has identified up to 450 victims of alleged and proven child sexual abusers ministering under its authority.

The revelation comes as the Government-appointed Commission of Investigation reports to the Minister for Justice.

Dermot Ahern said that he is ‘anxious that the matters dealt with in the report are put into the public domain as quickly as possible.

‘Equally, I am concerned that nothing should be done which would harm the prospects of the perpetrators of these horrific acts of depravity against children being brought to the justice they deserve', he said.

The Minister can ask the High Court to decide whether publishing findings about the men risks prejudicing criminal proceedings against them.

Minister Ahern is referring the report to the Attorney General for advice on how best to proceed.

The Minister said that he is determined that this matter will be dealt with ‘as expeditiously as possible’.

Mr Ahern said that he has forwarded a copy of the report to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews.

A spokesperson for the Diocese said it had identified between 400 and 450 people that allege they were abused by one of 152 clerics since 1940.

Judge Yvonne Murphy's three-member Commission has been investigating a representative sample of 46 priests who have had complaints made against them over three decades since 1975.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the examination of church and State responses to complaints will horrify and shock.

He and other witnesses have seen sections of the report referring to his evidence.

The priests served under a succession of Archbishops from John Charles McQuaid to Cardinal Desmond Connell.

Last year, the Cardinal withdrew a court challenge to Archbishop Martin's surrender of documents to the Commission, which Cardinal Connell considered legally privileged.