Federal government launches investigation into Pennsylvania dioceses

San Jose Diocese releases names of priests accused of abuse

The US justice department (DoJ) has opened an investigation of child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic church in Pennsylvania, it emerged on Thursday, using subpoenas to demand confidential files and testimony from church leaders, according to two people familiar with the investigation. McSwain sent out grand jury subpoenas last week to Pennsylvania dioceses as part of a federal investigation of clergy abuse in Catholic churches. The abuse allegedly was covered up by church leaders.

A representative for McSwain declined to comment on Wednesday, as did a Justice Department spokeswoman.

It comes two months after the Pennsylvania attorney general's office released an explosive grand jury report charging that bishops and other church leaders had covered up the abuse of more than 1,000 people over a period of more than 70 years.

However, the report said only two priests could be charged because of time limits on legal action for such crimes.

Washington's recently retired archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, served as bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988-2006, and came under fire after the grand jury reported suggested that he had permitted at least one priest accused of sexual abuse to remain in ministry after an accusation had been made.

Seminarians at New Jersey's largest Catholic university have been the target of expletives and insults as a result of recent priest sex abuse scandals.

"We have the full weight and attention of the United States federal government investigating the Roman Catholic Church", said Shaun Dougherty, 48, of Johnstown, who told authorities he was molested by a priest as a boy in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. "And it is long overdue".

"The abuse scarred every diocese". In the Diocese of San Jose, we have worked diligently to create a safe environment in which to worship, learn, and gather in our parishes, schools and other institutions.

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"The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has received a subpoena issued by a federal grand jury, which requires the production of certain documents".

The move by the Justice Department to launch an investigation, even one limited to a single state, marks a major escalation in the government's response to allegations that the church spent decades hiding the extent of the sexual abuse problem among its priests, and allowing pedophiles to continue to work and live in communities.

The three Catholic dioceses in northeastern and central Pennsylvania say, just as with the grand jury investigation, they are fully cooperating with this one.

"The diocese sees itself as a partner with law enforcement in its goal to eliminate the abuse of minors wherever it may occur in society, ' the statement continued".

The Harrisburg Diocese also says it has been served and will cooperate fully. Beginning in 1993, SNAP has repeatedly called on the Justice Department to investigate the church. "We will most certainly be seeking jail time for Father Poulson".

"Pope Francis has to be deeply concerned about what the federal investigation will reveal within the Diocese of Buffalo".

Bishop Richard Malone was frustrated the subpoena did not list specific names or the overall reason for the subpoena, the source added. "But it needs to be done", said David Hickton, the former USA attorney in western Pennsylvania who considered accusing the Altoona-Johnson Diocese of criminal or civil racketeering in 2016 but left office before the investigation was completed.

"A subpoena was provided and after some discussion, an agreement was reached to produce documents", communications director Kathy Spangler said.

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