Other states followed suit after Pennsylvania’s bombshell report last month.
Attorneys General from all over the United States have adopted an aggressive stance in their investigation of the Roman Catholic clergy for sexual abuse. These actions cascade into further investigations related to malfeasance. Subpoenas are now being issued to access documents.
The Catholic Church now faces an important test unfolding over the next few months. The American units of the Vatican will be put under the microscope by Attorneys General of a minimum of five states, and a number of others are also mulling to open up decades-old secret diocese files. For devout Catholics, this is the first time they have witnessed their church to be subjected to criminal investigation.
New York was the first to issue subpoenas, followed by New Jersey. The latter announced a dedicated criminal task force to investigate charges of sexual abuse allegedly done by the local Catholic clergy. Missouri and Nebraska followed suit. New Mexico started its own investigation during the first week of September.
The initiator was Josh Shapiro, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. He announced in August the results of a deep grand jury investigation where about 300 priests abused 1,000 children in six Catholic dioceses in the state. The crime was done over a long time, spanning approximately 70 years. The report predictably created an uproar, with numerous Catholics all over the United States putting forward a demand that their own dioceses should open files to the relevant criminal investigators. Only by doing this, they reasoned, will it be possible to find out whether such extensive cover-ups were done all over the country.
The Attorney General of New York State issued subpoenas to eight dioceses on September 6. New Jersey followed suit. This hard approach by the authorities bombards the already much-battered Catholic Church. Pope Francis is yet to recover from a seemingly never-ending crisis linked to abuse by bishops and priests across the world, ranging from the U.S. to Australia.
— Linda Dono (@LindaDono) August 30, 2018
A few Attorneys General made a statement on September 6 that they were emboldened to take action due to the eye-opening Pennsylvania report. They said they want to bring complete transparency to their respective state constituents. Barbara Underwood, the New York Attorney General, said the grand jury report by Pennsylvania brought to light depraved and disturbing acts done by the Catholic clergy, the actions helped by a cover-up and culture of secrecy.