A survey of the country's 27 Catholic dioceses found that 30 of the perpetrators had been tried and sentenced but at least 10 cases were still outstanding and many more never saw court because the statute of limitations to prosecute had passed.
This latest revelation follows the shock admission just over a week ago that at least two Roman Catholic priests at the elite Canisius Catholic school in Berlin had systematically abused children in 1970s and 1980s.
The scandal then spread with the church's admission that a third priest had been suspended after admitting to abusing a student.
Only three German dioceses, Limburg, Regensburg and Dresden-Meißen, refused to respond to Spiegel's survey. A spokesman for the Dresden-Meißen diocese said he “didn't want to fuel the current discussion.”
But the secretary of the German Bishops' Conference, Hans Langendörfer, said: “The revelations show a dark side of the church that appals me. We want to tackle this issue openly.”
Some Catholic groups have demanded changes to the guidelines for dealing with sexual abuse in light of the discoveries, Spiegel reported. This has included calls for an independent ombudsman to examine abuse claims.
The issue is set to dominate the next meeting of the German Bishops' Conference, which begins on February 22.