The Justice Department has opened a probe to investigate child sexual abuse within Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia confirmed to Fox News.
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has received a subpoena issued by a federal grand jury, which requires the production of certain documents," a statement read. "The Archdiocese will cooperate with the United States Department of Justice in this matter.”
Federal prosecutors served subpoenas to the church last week after a grand jury report released in August found priests in the eastern state molested more than 1,000 children.
The Archdiocese of Erie confirmed it has received a subpoena from the Justice Department, and "its counsel is in conversation" with federal investigators.
Hundreds of priests were said to have molested more than 1,000 children — and possibly many more — since the 1940s, and senior church officials allegedly covered up the abuse, according to the report.
The grand jury put the number of abusive clergy at around 300. In nearly all of the cases, the statute of limitations has run out, meaning that criminal charges cannot be filed. More than 100 of the priests are dead, and many others are retired or have been dismissed from the priesthood or put on leave.
“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing. They hid it all,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference at the time.
Now the Justice Department is investigating to see if any federal crimes were committed by priests, bishops, seminarians and others.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain, of Philadelphia, demanded bishops turn over any evidence that anyone in their ranks took children across state lines for illicit purposes, sent sexual images or messages via phone or computer, instructed anyone not to contact police, reassigned suspected predators, or used money or other assets as part of the scandal.
Fox News' Frank Miles and Jake Gibson and The Associated Pres contributed to this report.