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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A day after protesters gathered outside Missouri government offices demanding an investigation into the Catholic Church, state Attorney General Josh Hawley announced he would be launching an investigation into clerical sex abuse. It comes on the same day the Illinois attorney general announced its own investigation into the Chicago archdiocese.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Thursday, "The Catholic Church has a moral obligation to provide its parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests," going on to announce a probe into all six dioceses in the state.
In Missouri, Abp. Robert Carlson, head of the St. Louis archdiocese, told Hawley he would offer him access to diocesan secret archives containing allegations of sexual misconduct by clergy.
In a letter Thursday, Carlson told Hawley he was "aware of the public's requests to your office," going on to invite an "independent determination of our handling of allegations of clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Louis."
Hawley expressed hopes in a public press conference that other states would also volunteer to open their secret archives for review by their states' attorneys general.
The Associated Press is reporting that the dioceses of Jefferson City and Kansas City-St. Joseph said they will cooperate with the investigation. A representative for the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau did not respond to AP's requests for comment.
The move comes little more than a week after an explosive grand jury report was published in Pennsylvania naming 300 alleged predator priests in six dioceses, who abused more than 1,000 individuals.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in an interview with NPR the next day that he has had "many private conversations over the last 48 hours with other state attorneys general and prosecutors in other states who have expressed interest in doing the kind of work we did in Pennsylvania."
Church Militant confirmed with New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood last week that she was also looking into the possibility of launching a grand jury investigation into Catholic dioceses in New York.
"The Attorney General has directed her Criminal Division leadership to reach out to local District Attorneys — who are the only entities that currently have the power to convene a grand jury to investigate these matters — in order to establish a potential partnership on this issue," Underwood's office told Church Militant.
The Nebraska attorney general has also made public calls for abuse victims to step forward, hinting at the possibility of launching his own investigation. His announcement comes in direct response to reports of homosexual predation and harassment in the diocese of Lincoln.
The threat of multiple grand jury investigations being launched across the nation, as well as speculation of a possible RICO prosecution from the Department of Justice — a move that would have enormous financial consequences for the Church in America — have caused the Vatican to send an investigator to the United States. Archbishop Charles Scicluna, whose previous investigation into sex abuse cover-up in Chile led to the Chilean bishops' mass resignations, is reportedly being sent to the United States for an apostolic visitation.
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