The Most Rev Justin Welby said it was something he dealt with daily and it was becoming clearer that “for many, many years things were not dealt with as they should have been dealt with”.
Abuse survivors must now be shown justice and the Church must be “absolutely transparent” every step of the way, he said when interviewed yesterday.
Asked if he was braced for the inquiry to uncover “bad stories”, Archbishop Welby replied: “I would love to say there weren’t, but I expect there are. There are in almost every institution in this land.
“This is, it’s something I deal with every day and it is becoming clearer and clearer that for many, many years things were not dealt with as they should have been dealt with.
“And we must show justice to survivors of abuse. That is the first and absolute principle. And we must be absolutely transparent in every possible way and we have to keep saying how utterly devastated we are with the terrible things that were done in the past and how sorry we are.”
It comes after the Home Office was again forced to defend the appointment of Baroness Butler-Sloss to run the inquiry amid claims she refused to go public about a bishop implicated in a scandal.
Lady Butler-Sloss told a victim of alleged abuse she did not want to include the allegations in a review of how the Church of England dealt with two paedophile priests because she “cared about the Church” and “the press would love a bishop”, it was claimed.
It put fresh pressure on the former High Court judge, who has faced calls to step down after reports that her brother Sir Michael Havers tried to prevent ex-MP Geoffrey Dickens airing claims about a diplomat in parliament in the 1980s.
Lady Butler-Sloss insisted that she has “never” put the reputation of an institution ahead of justice for victims.
Home Office minister James Brokenshire pledged his support for the former judge, saying her “integrity shines through”.
He also told how a panel of experts would sit alongside the baroness in the investigation, but he did not reveal if they would have equal powers.
It emerged at the weekend Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, the former Solicitor general of Scotland, was linked to the child abuse scandal threatening to engulf Westminster. Evidence emerged which suggests the former Tory MP, who died in 1995 aged 61, may have visited a brothel at the heart of police and parliamentary investigations.