As many as 382 minors were sexually abused by clergy in Poland between 1990 and 2018, according to findings presented today by the Catholic Church in Poland, one of the most devout countries in Europe.

The report follows investigations into widespread child abuse by clergy in other countries - notably in Chile, the United States, Australia and Ireland - that have shaken the church to its foundations.

"This is an especially painful, tragic issue as it is connected with consecrated people, who devoted themselves to serving the church, other human beings. They have social trust and this social trust was so tragically violated," Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski said at a news conference.

Polish bishops last year asked victims of past clerical abuse for forgiveness and began collecting data to "identify the causes of these deeds and assess their scale".

The report said as many as 198 of the victims were below the age of 15.

Last month the Polish charity "Have no fear", which supports abuse victims, delivered its own report to Pope Francis in which it calculated - purely on the basis of media reports collated since the mid-1950s - that at least 384 minors had been sexually abused by clergy in Poland.

Activists say the real figure is probably much greater.

The charity has called for the creation of a panel with the power to investigate the real scale of the problem, secure access to church documents regarding the abuse of minors, and, finally, to dismiss bishops found responsible for covering up sexual crimes.

German Catholic Bishops accused of 'stonewalling' by child abuse victims

Meanwhile, Germany's Catholic bishops have ended a three-day meeting with an admission that they must urgently confront their church's child sex abuse scandal but victims accused it of continued "stonewalling", especially on compensation.

Speaking to reporters, the head of the country's bishops, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, conceded: "We carry responsibility toward those affected around the world - no-one among us can still negate the problem or treat it as a taboo."

To the thousands of German victims and to other critics, Cardinal Marx said, "we see and hear you ... we have understood".

The era of silence "is over", he stressed, weeks after a Vatican summit also addressed the issue. He admitted that it should have been dealt with "perhaps 20 years, 30 years ago".

But Cardinal Marx also cautioned that "the process of cleansing is not finished in three days, it's a continuing path". He offered no timetable for concrete reforms.