Some 216,000 children have been victims of abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in France since 1950, the head of a panel investigating abuses by Church members says.
Jean-Marc Sauvé was speaking at the release of a lengthy report into sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church.
He said the number could rise to 330,000, when abuse by lay members of the Church was included.
One victim called the report a turning point in France’s history.
Speaking at the report’s unveiling, he condemned the church’s hierarchy and called the institution dysfunctional.
Mr Sauvé, a senior civil servant, said the Catholic Church had shown “cruel indifference” to victims.
The commission found evidence of 2,900 to 3,200 abusers – out of a total of 115,000 priests and other clerics.
The report was based on Church, court and police archives as well as interviews with victims.
The inquiry was commissioned by the French Catholic Church in 2018, following a number of scandals in other countries.
The BBC’s Hugh Schofield says the revelations will be very hard to absorb, and will have people reeling in France.
Most cases assessed by the panel are thought to be too old to prosecute under French law.