An explosive report into how Catholic church leaders handled clerical abuse allegations in the Dublin archdiocese could be released as early as next week, once the outcome of a High Court hearing on Thursday is known.

The court is due to consider a request from justice minister Dermot Ahern for direction on whether he can publish the report of the Dublin archdiocese commission to inquire into child abuse.

The report, which archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has previously said will "shock us all", is understood to outline a litany of failures to limit the exposure of vulnerable children to serial clerical sex abusers.

It is also expected to criticise leading figures in the archdiocese for failing to act when alerted about suspicions of child abuse by priests, and to highlight how they instead sought to move clerics to other parishes.

The commission has investigated how clerical sex abuse allegations involving a sample of 46 priests were handled by church leaders in Dublin between January 1975 and April 2004.

The justice minister refer­red the commission's report to the High Court on 31 July, after seeking legal advice from the attorney general. Ahern had concerns that the naming of certain people in the report could prejudice any criminal proceedings against them.

Three of the cases investigated by the commission involve men who are currently before the courts on child abuse charges, with the first trial not expected to take place before next April.

As a result, the High Court has been asked by the minister to decide whether the details of its findings in relation to these men can be published without prejudicing the trials.

The court is due to hear the case in full next Thursday and could issue its preliminary decision at that stage, although the hearing is expected to be held in camera.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to speculate as to when the report will be published and stressed it would await the decision of the High Court before deciding how to proceed.

However, Ahern has repeatedly stressed he wishes to see the matters dealt with in the report "put in the public domain as quickly as possible".

Depending on the High Court's direction, it is understood he could provide some of those identified in the report with pseudonyms or even publish it without including any reference to these three men.