A judge is authorizing a class-action lawsuit against the Catholic archdiocese of Quebec brought by victims of alleged sexual abuse.

The class action was filed in 2020 and covers alleged sexual assaults committed from 1940 to the present day.

Montreal law firm Arsenault Dufresne Wee, which is representing the plaintiffs, says the lawsuit is the first class action targeting all the members of a specific archdiocese who allegedly committed sexual assault.

The class action covers anyone who was sexually assaulted -- including heirs of victims -- by clergy or lay personnel who were under the responsibility of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Quebec or the Roman Catholic archbishop of Quebec.

The Quebec archdiocese covers a region that includes the greater Quebec City area and neighbouring Chaudiere-Appalaches, Charlevoix and Beauce regions.

Arsenault Dufresne Wee welcomed the ruling in a statement and said that more than 88 alleged victims have come forward.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Bernard Godbout heard arguments in April and authorized the lawsuit in a written ruling issued Thursday.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2022.