The Justice Department has issued subpoenas to at least five of the eight dioceses in Pennsylvania as part of a federal probe into child sexual abuse inside the Roman Catholic Church.
Officials at six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses - Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Scranton and Harrisburg - have confirmed to NPR that they have recently received and are now complying with federal subpoenas for information.
"The Diocese will co-operate fully with the request, just as it co-operated fully with the information requests related to the statewide grand jury", the statement said.
Lawyers for a group of people who say they were sexually abused by priests are filing suit against every Catholic diocese and bishop in Illinois, along with the Illinois Catholic Conference, alleging that the defendants conspired to hide a public hazard by failing to disclose the names of clergy members accused of sexually abusing children.
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 state is believed to have the highest number of grand jury investigations into child sex abuse in the church nationwide, according to U.S. media.
The subpoenas follow a state grand jury report in August that detailed hundreds of allegations of children being sexually abused by priests in dioceses across Pennsylvania. The grand jurors said that the rest of the cases were too old to be prosecuted, because of statutes of limitations.
Shapiro said at the time that it was largely based on documents from secret archives kept by the dioceses, including handwritten confessions by priests.
There was no indication the Justice Department is planning a more ambitious and expensive investigation of clergy abuse nationwide. The sexual abuse of children and young people is an appalling crime and a sin.
The report alleged that more than 300 predator priests abused more than 1,000 children in the Commonwealth over several decades. Sources tell CBS News the diocese of Buffalo, New York, is also a target.
The Diocese of Allentown said in a statement that they will cooperate with the subpoena.
The federal prosecutor's office in Philadelphia, which is in charge of the investigation, said that "the US Department of Justice generally does not confirm, deny or otherwise comment on the existence or non-existence of an investigation". Many other priests are dead.
Numerous other church officials, the report found, participated in a systemic cover-up of the abuse that included shuffling priests around to other parishes and, in some cases, obstructing police investigations.
The report also led to the resignation last week of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington. The Belleville and Rockford dioceses, the suit said, have not named a combined 53 priests accused of child molestation since 1950. Talks on such legislation in the General Assembly have so far failed to reach a deal, and state lawmakers' two-year session is nearing its end.
Shapiro declined to comment Thursday on the federal investigation.
Lynn became the first USA church official ever prosecuted for the alleged cover-up of child molestation by priests when he was arrested on child-endangerment charges.
In 2011, the Philadelphia district attorney's office brought a landmark cover-up case against Monsignor William Lynn, a longtime aide to two Philadelphia cardinals. At trial, he said he had merely followed orders from above.