US opens federal investigation into Catholic Church abuse

Federal authorities launch probe into Pa. Catholic church

Federal authorities launch probe into Pa. Catholic church

After a scathing report alleging decades of sex abuse by priests in Pennsylvania, dioceses across the state said that they had received federal grand jury subpoenas.

The probe comes on the heels of a bombshell grand jury report in August that accused 301 "predator priests" of preying on young children in Pennsylvania for decades.

A spokesperson for a non-profit group that focuses on preventing child abuse released a statement today.

Lennon said SNAP had asked the federal government three times since 2002 for a nationwide investigation of 15,000 active or retired Catholic clergy accused of being sexual predators. This time, they may be right.

Lynn became the first US church official ever prosecuted for the alleged cover-up of child molestation by priests when he was arrested on child-endangerment charges.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who oversaw the state probe, declined to comment on the federal investigation.

The report was the product of an 18-month investigation into six of the state's dioceses - Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton - and follows other state grand jury reports that revealed abuse and coverups in two other dioceses.

"The Diocese will cooperate fully with the request, just as it cooperated fully with the information requests related to the statewide Grand Jury", the diocese said in a statement.

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. McSwain sent out grand jury subpoenas last week to Pennsylvania dioceses as part of a federal investigation of clergy abuse in Catholic churches.

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The report resulted in charges being filed against only two priests.

Former Erie Diocese Priest David Poulson, 64, pleaded guilty to sex crimes involving children on Wednesday. Shapiro said at the time that it was largely based on documents from secret archives kept by the dioceses, including handwritten confessions by priests. "The cover-up was sophisticated".

In August, a grand jury released a report about such accusations. "The archdiocese will cooperate with the United States Department of Justice in this matter", Ken Gavin, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, told CNA.

Authorities alleged Poulson sexually assaulted a boy repeatedly in church rectories at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Fryburg and St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Cambridge Springs. He used the tools of the priesthood to further his abuse.

David Poulson, 64, who had been a priest in the Diocese of Erie for four decades, pleaded guilty to corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children - third-degree felonies ― on Wednesday in Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas. "State prosecutors don't have jurisdiction over movements that occur across state lines; they only have jurisdictions within the state itself".

In September, US Catholic bishops said they would set up a hotline for accusations of sexual abuse against bishops and other church leaders, or allegations of cover ups by such people.

She said such action would be important. "Typically, these type of matters are covered by the local county district attorney or the state attorney general".

The Pennsylvania grand jury report was nearly 900 pages. State officials have opened nine grand jury investigations into a variety of allegations, including some directed at Catholic dioceses, private schools and even its state university in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.

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