The files on deceased clergy are to be opened as part of an independent inquiry into allegations of child abuse by the late Dean of Manchester.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has ordered that all relevant files on clergy who served in the Diocese of York from before 1950 to the present day be scrutinised by an independent reviewer.
The inquiry was launched last month following allegations against the former Dean of Manchester, Robert Waddington.
It is being led by Judge Sally Cahill QC and will also look into the Church's handling of the allegations against Waddington.
Last month, the Church of England General Synod voted to acknowledge and apologise for past failures in safeguarding and take steps to ensure victims are heard and supported.
Dr Sentamu said: "The damage done by the sexual abuse of children is immense, and the passage of time does not in itself bring healing.
"Where young people are shown to have been betrayed by individuals in a position of trust and by the institution's failure to protect them, it is for the Church to acknowledge the hurt which has been done, to offer a full apology, and to prove, so far as is possible, that policies and practices are improved such that the same systemic failure could never be repeated."
The Archbishop's Chief of Staff, the Reverend Malcolm Macnaughton, said: "Our priority now is to respond well to those who have the courage to come forward to say what happened to them.
"We want them to know that their story will be listened to, and that where the Church has been at fault this will be acknowledged.
"Because of policies now in place we believe that today's young people are in a much safer position – but there is no room for complacency. So the message is – if anyone has information about known or suspected abuse – please do not hesitate to come forward."