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Virginia Launches State-Level Investigation Of The Catholic Church

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

The attorney general of Virginia announced Wednesday that his office is investigating Virginia’s two Catholic dioceses concerning sex abuse and cover-ups.

Attorney General Mark Herring announced the “ongoing investigation” one day after D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said his office is launching an investigation into whether D.C.’s Catholic Church has violated laws governing non-profit organizations by covering up sexual abuse cases. Herring said that he launched the investigation in response to Pennsylvania’s grand jury report on sexual abuse in six of its dioceses. (RELATED: DOJ Opens Investigation Into Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse Investigation)

HAYMARKET, VA - OCTOBER 20: (L-R) Democratic U.S. House candidate and Virginia State Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-33rd District), Virginia State Attorney General Mark Herring (C), and Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem (D-13th District) participate in the annual Haymarket Day parade October 20, 2018 in Haymarket, Virginia. Wexton is challenging incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) for the House seat that has been in Republican hands since 1981. Wexton is currently leading Comstock in the polls. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

HAYMARKET, VA – OCTOBER 20: (L-R) Democratic U.S. House candidate and Virginia State Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-33rd District), Virginia State Attorney General Mark Herring (C), and Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem (D-13th District) participate in the annual Haymarket Day parade October 20, 2018 in Haymarket, Virginia. Wexton is challenging incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) for the House seat that has been in Republican hands since 1981. Wexton is currently leading Comstock in the polls. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“It made me sick to see the extent of the damage done, the efforts to cover it up, and the complicity and enabling that went on by powerful people who should have known better and should have done more to protect vulnerable children,” Herring said of the Pennsylvania report, according to The Washington Post.

“We shouldn’t assume the behavior and the problems are limited just to Pennsylvania or to one diocese. If there has been abuse or cover-up in Virginia like there was in Pennsylvania I want to know about it, I want to root it out, and I want to help survivors get justice and get on a path to healing,” he added.

Virginia’s investigations mark the 14th state-level investigation into the Catholic Church in 2018. Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear also announced his intention to launch an investigation into possible sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church in his state.

The series of state investigations, which have reached a historically high number, have garnered praise from abuse survivors and victims’ advocates whose trust in church officials’ ability to self police, even at the highest level of church authority, has drastically plummeted since the release of Pennsylvania’s report and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s allegations that Pope Francis directly contributed to covering up allegations of sexual abuse.

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