Justice Department Launches Investigation Into Pennsylvania Roman Catholic Dioceses

Survivors of child sexual abuse hug in the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, while awaiting legislation to respond to a grand jury report on abuse in the Catholic Church. (Marc Levy/AP)

The U.S. Department of Justice is launching a federal grand jury investigation into Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania just months after a state-level investigation unearthed decades of allegations of widespread child sexual abuse by hundreds of priests that impacted more than 1,000 children over several decades.

The Associated Press reported on the investigation on Thursday (Oct. 18), citing two anonymous sources within the Justice Department.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia also confirmed to Religion News Service that it is aware of the inquiry and is cooperating with investigators — including handing over documents.

“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has received a subpoena issued by a federal grand jury, which requires the production of certain documents,” Kenneth A. Gavin, the archdiocese’s chief communications officer, said in an email. “The Archdiocese will cooperate with the United States Department of Justice in this matter.”

The Diocese of Pittsburgh also confirmed the probe.

“The Diocese of Pittsburgh has received the subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice and will cooperate fully with any and all investigations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in Pennsylvania,” a representative said in an email.

The Department of Justice declined to comment, saying the agency generally does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service, Jack Jenkins