At least 1,259 people working for the Protestant Church of Germany have committed sexual abuse in the last decades and at least 2,225 victims were affected by the abuse according to an independent report published Thursday.
The findings are drawn from an examination of documents and records from regional churches and the Lutherans' diaconal relief and social welfare organisation, Diakonie.
The authors of the report estimate that the actual number of perpetrators is likely to be much higher, with nearly 3,500 people who have committed sexual abuse, German news agency dpa reported.
Martin Wazlawik from Hannover University, who oversaw the study on sexualised violence in the Protestant Church in Germany, described the disclosed figures as "the tip of the tip of the iceberg."
The Protestant Church commissioned the study in 2020, allocating 3.6 million euros for its funding.
The objective was to analyse the internal structures of the church that contribute to violence and the abuse of power.
The EKD, representing 19.2 million Protestant Christians in Germany through its 20 regional churches, expressed its remorse to victims during the presentation of the study in Hannover.
Bishop Kirsten Fehrs of Hamburg, head of the Council of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD), offered a heartfelt apology to the victims.
“As an institution, we have also been guilty of countless crimes against countless people,” Fehrs said, adding that she was “deeply shocked” by the overall picture presented by the study.
The revelation follows the Catholic Church in Germany disclosing staggering numbers of sexual abuse by its clergy in 2018.
A church-commissioned report from that year indicated that between 1946 and 2014, at least 3,677 individuals experienced abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy, with more than half of the victims being 13 years old or younger, and nearly a third serving as altar boys.