Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, chairman of the German bishops' conference, personally apologized Tuesday for “failure and pain” following an extensive report that German clergy had abused thousands of children between 1946 and 2014.

“For too long in the church we have looked away, denied, covered up and didn’t want it to be true,” said Cardinal Marx at a news conference in Fulda, as reported by Reuters. “For all the failure, pain and suffering, I must apologize as the chairman of the Bishops’ Conference as well as personally.”

“Those who are guilty must be punished,” he added.

The report detailing the abuse in Germany was leaked to the German press Sept. 12.

The report, commissioned by the German bishops in 2014 and officially released Sept. 25, found allegations against 1,670 German clerics, or “4.4 percent of all clerics from 1946 to 2014 whose personnel records and other documents were reviewed in the dioceses.” Nearly 63 percent of the 3,677 alleged victims were male.

According to the German bishops' conference, the aim of the study, in which all 27 dioceses of Germany took part, was “to obtain more clarity and transparency about this dark side in our church, not only for the sake of those affected, but also in order to be able to see the misdemeanors for ourselves and do everything possible to ensure that they do not repeat themselves.”