The New York Attorney General's office issued a blanket subpoena to every Roman Catholic diocese in the state requesting documents and testimony pursuant to a major sweeping sex crimes investigation.
New Jersey, a state where disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick held sway, is expected to announce a similar investigation later on Thursday, The Washington Post reports.
Both states say they are commissioning a "criminal task force" to study Church records for evidence of sex abuse by Catholic clergy as well as evidence of cover-ups among the Church's hierarchy in each state.
"The subpoenas are part of an ongoing civil investigation by the attorney general’s Charities Bureau, which is looking into whether the nonprofit dioceses covered up sexual abuse of minors," the Post reports. "Separately, the criminal division is working with district attorneys in the state who might convene grand juries to investigate crimes committed by priests."
New York AG Barbara Underwood announced the subpoenas, which went out at all eight New York dioceses Thursday morning, on a conference call with "victims and witnesses of child abuse committed by clergy."
New Jersey says it is setting up a similar sex crimes task force aimed both at discovering claims of sexual abuse by clergy and investigating whether Catholic clergy took pains to cover up abuse scandals, hide abuse from authorities, or ignored claims of abuse in their respective archdioceses.
Both states' investigations come on the heels of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that found more than 1,000 instances of sexual abuse in a handful of Pennsylvania archdioceses committed by more than 300 priests. That discovery led to accusations that Washington, D.C. archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl knew about instances of abuse when he was in charge of the Church in Pennsylvania and failed to act.
Further allegations against Wuerl have followed, most set forth in a letter from Catholic Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano to Pope Francis. In the letter, Vigano accused Wuerl and other prominent American clerics of knowing that McCarrick abused and sexually assaulted young priests and seminarians and protecting McCarrick instead of enforcing regulations reportedly placed on the now-disgraced cardinal by then-Pope Benedict XVI.
New Jersey may find evidence that links back to McCarrick, too. Earlier this week, Newark's Cardinal, Joseph Tobin, fell under scrutiny after telling a journalist that he'd heard "rumors" of McCarrick's behavior but didn't think to investigate whether the rumors were true.
New York is also likely to investigate McCarrick more fully. Other statewide investigations have cropped up in Missouri and Ohio, though the Ohio investigations appear led by law enforcement rather than the Ohio Attorney General.
If any credible allegations surface, they likely won't be actionable. As with the Pennsylvania grand jury findings, the incidents are far beyond the statue of limitations for prosecution. But among both Catholics specifically and Americans generally, there seems to be a desire for immediate transparency, even if no one will go to jail.