A 'significant number' of the allegations related to incidents said to have taken place in the 1970s, the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) said, with more than half going back 30 years or more.
Of 51 alleged abusers, 30 are clergy or religious, seven volunteers, six parishioners and five employees, the commission said in its first annual report.
Allegations made last year have so far resulted in one police caution or warning, three convictions and one jail sentence, the report said.
No further action was taken by the statutory authorities in 29 cases, the report said for reasons including insufficient evidence and the death of the alleged abuser.
The Church said 17,000 Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks were undertaken in 2008 on employees, volunteers, religious and others in contact with children and vulnerable adults with 83 returning relevant convictions.
The commission was set up last year following a recommendation in a review of the Church's progress in implementing child protection procedures headed by Baroness Julia Cumberlege.
The new body was established alongside the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service, replacing the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults.
The Catholic Church in England and Wales underwent sweeping reforms to its child protection procedures following intense criticism about the way it had handled abuse scandals in the past.
The Nolan report in 2001, ordered by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, former leader of Catholics in England and Wales, made a series of recommendations aimed at stamping out paedophile activity in the church.
Between 1995 and 1999, 21 of the 5,600 Catholic priests in England and Wales were convicted of offences against children.
Bill Kilgallon, chairman of the NCSC, said the proportion of abusers was small but the effects were serious and long lasting.
He said: 'There has always been a very small proportion of people who abuse whether in the church, in teaching or in any other profession but the damage that they do is serious and long lasting and that is the important perspective that we have to take on it.
'That is why we need as rigorous a system as we can established to try to prevent that behaviour and we need to have a good system of support for victims.'
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