SYDNEY (AFP) - The Catholic Church in one Australian state has revealed that at least 620 children have been abused by its clergy since the 1930s, sparking a fresh call Saturday for an independent inquiry into abuse. The Catholic Church in Victoria revealed the number in a submission to a state parliamentary hearing on Friday but said the instances of abuse reported had fallen dramatically from the “appalling” numbers of the 1960s and 1970s. “It is shameful and shocking that this abuse, with its dramatic impact on those who were abused and their families, was committed by Catholic priests, religious and church workers,” Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said. Last year Pope Benedict XVI told Australian bishops that their work had been made more difficult by the clerical abuse scandal which has rocked the church as he exhorted them to “repair the errors of the past with honesty”. The full submission was not released publicly but the church said most of the 620 criminal abuse claims it had upheld over the last 16 years related to incidents 30 to 80 years ago, with very few related to abuse that has taken place since 1990. Hart said the church had taken steps to redress the issue, including a programme implemented in the 1990s involving an independent investigation, an ongoing programme of counselling and support, and compensation.