ST. LOUIS — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley says the Archdiocese of St. Louis has agreed to open its files for an investigation of potential clergy abuse.
Hawley told reporters in a teleconference Thursday that he is asking the three other Catholic dioceses in Missouri to similarly open their files. Representative of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Diocese of Jefferson City pledged cooperation with any investigation by the attorney general.
Jefferson City's bishop, Shawn McKnight, sent a letter Thursday to Hawley welcoming a review of his diocese's files.
McKnight said in the letter that he is committed to transparency and protecting the vulnerable in a letter read to parishioners this past weekend.
Before Hawley's announcement, he said he planned to release a full report including information on both current events and historical information. McKnight said in his Thursday letter that he would suspend the release to allow Hawley time to begin an investigation.
"I have already committed to transparency in my statements and letters to the faithful," he said in his letter. "I look forward to receiving a favorable reply to this request."
A message seeking comment from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau was not immediately returned.
Hawley's announcement came amid renewed concerns that followed the release of a report in Pennsylvania citing abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests since the 1940s, along with cover-up by church leaders.
Missourian reporter Annalise Acuff contributed to this report.