Lawyer Ursula Raue, who has been commissioned to investigate the abuse cases, told the DPA news agency in an interview that abuse by members of the clergy took place in Jesuit educational establishments as early as the 1950s.
She did not name the exact number of known abusers.
Berlin’s prestigious Canisius secondary school made headlines when it was revealed at the end of January that at least two priests had repeatedly abused students in the 1970s and 1980s. It is now thought that at least 59 former students were victims of the abuse.
Since the first revelations, the scope of the scandal has spread across the country as more and more people have come forward.
“The subject of abuse if not new,” said Raue. “But the recent developments go further than any of us thought.”
She said that while the revelations are disquieting, she is glad that “this last societal taboo topic” is being discussed in public.
The investigation into the Jesuit abuse cases will take some time, Raue said, adding that she has still not looked at all the files she has received. She is now investigating whether cases of abuse were known early on and covered up by the order.
The Catholic abuse scandal has rocked the church, with new cases coming to light almost daily. The scandal has even reached Pope Benedict XVI, who has been criticised for his actions regarding abuse cases while he was a bishop in Germany.